<story by Anna Voss>
The Barton Community College Athletic Department inducted three individuals to its Sports Hall of Fame Saturday, February 6, at the Kirkman Activity Center on Barton’s campus. Established in 2000, the 2016 inductee class of Joe Burger, Caley (Carter) Knudsen, and Ray Seib joined fifty-eight previous inductees to the prestigious Sports Hall of Fame.
Two former Cougar coaches Ray Seib, track and field, and Joe Burger, men’s and women’s soccer, along with former dual athlete, Caley (Carter) Knudsen were recognized as the Induction Class of 2016.
Master of ceremonies and Barton Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs led the ninety minute induction ceremony in front of former Barton athletes, supporters, and current student-athletes. With each inductee being presented to the crowd, memories and insight behind the lives were shared prior to the inductee’s acceptance speeches.
Caley (Carter) Knudsen
The first of the three inductees was Caley (Carter) Knudsen. A two-sport athlete at Barton arriving from Great Bend High School, Carter excelled in both volleyball and track and field, Carter set school records and was a part of many national tournament teams.
On the volleyball front, Carter left Barton atop the single season and career charts helping lead her team to consecutive national tournament berths compiling a two-year 98-14 record while earning all-conference and all-region in both of her two seasons.
Lyles Lashley, Carter’s presenter and former Barton track and field coach, remarked on Carter’s ability to lead by example and only arise vocally when called upon to do so.
“If I coached nothing but Caley Carters, I may still have my hair,” Lashley jokingly said, reemphasizing how delightful it was to have Carter on his team.
Carter also helped the women’s track and field team to four national titles while earning a combined five All-American performances at the national championships, two coming in the discus and three from the shot put. Carter still stands on the top ten chart in school history for shot put and discus throws.
“After my two years was up here, I counted, after watching the Olympics several times,” Carter explained. “I was actually on the same team as eight Olympians right here at Barton, so to be in the Hall of Fame when those were my teammates is very flattering because there are some outstanding athletes that came through here.”
Continuing her playing career at Nicholls State University, Carter earned Southland All-Conference Newcomer of the Year, First Team selection, Conference Player of the Year and Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player. She extended her career for six years after college playing in Europe leading the Odense Women’s Professional team to seven championship gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze at the Danish Cup and Danish National Championships.
Carter left her playing days behind in 2010 joining the coaching ranks, most recently as the head coach at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport for the past three seasons.
In closing remarks, Carter referred to Barton as her second home right in her hometown.
“I’m always going to feel at home when I’m here at Barton,” Carter concluded.
Considered “The Godfather” of Barton soccer, Joe Burger began the Cougar soccer programs in the fall of 2001 leading both the women’s and men’s teams.
Leading the women’s program to the region semifinals in his lone season while juggling both programs, the Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native turned the reigns over on the women’s side concentrating on the men’s program. In five seasons guiding the Cougar men, Burger won three conference titles, two national rankings, and led Barton Soccer to its first national tournament berth finishing 7th in only the program’s 2nd year of existence.
“Joe could not be more deserving of this honor,” said Sean Hubbard, Burger’s presenter and former player during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. “From a personal level, he took me, an unrecruited high school soccer player, and developed me into a Division I athlete. My dream was always to play on that level and Joe was a major player in making that happen.”
Even with a startup program in his first season, Burger immediately made an impact earning the first of his two Region VI Coach of the Year honors leading the 2001 Cougars to an 8-8-3 season that came to an end in a shootout in the Region VI title game.
“He took a chance on me and he really took a chance on Barton County,” Hubbard said.
That chance proved just enough as Burger took the program into the national spotlight in just his second season earning the Midwest Regional Coach of the Year and leading the Cougars to a 14-6-4 season in 2002. The Cougars also earned their first trip to the NJCAA Tournament where they lost to the eventual national runner-up.
“You can’t have a good program without surrounding yourself with good people and I absolutely tried to do that in every facet that I did here at Barton County,” Burger said of the familiar faces of Barton faculty and staff. “That’s how you create a culture that you can be successful in.”
Burger coached five NJCAA All-Americans, two Region VI and Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year award winners, three NSCAA/Adidas All-South Region members, two Academic All-Americans, and 24 players earning a combined 55 All-Region VI and All-Jayhawk Conference team honors. Winning over 65% of all their games, Burger’s Cougars dominated the Jayhawk coming out on top in over 80% of their conference games setting a standard still true today.
Challenging the current student-athletes in attendance, Burger urged them to remember two things: why they chose Barton County and take nothing for granted.
“When you go out and play, you represent everybody who came before you and that’s a big burden here at Barton County because there are some great players and great people before you,” Burger said of the athletic programs at Barton.
Also a former Cougar coach, Ray Seib became the third inductee in the Class of 2016. Having coached at Syracuse High School from 1967 to 1976, Seib left Syracuse, Kansas to head up the track and field program for three years from 1976-1979. It was a short three years but Seib catapulted the Cougars into the national spotlight leading to the capturing of Barton’s first two of fifty-four track and field team national championships.
“This is a well-deserved thing for Coach Seib judging by how many people are actually here to support Coach Seib and also the people that are out watching it on the video stream,” said Joel Light, former Barton standout high jumper and presenter for Seib.
He spoke of Seib’s obvious passion and emotion for the sport of track and field; he noted how Seib always makes others feel important.
“He had an ability to make a person feel like they were the most important person in the room,” Light said. “He was a good teacher; he loved the sport and was a true student of the sport.”
Each year Seib’s program made the climb to new levels of greatness and respectability on the national stage. Having three All-Americans in his first season, Seib’s impact led to over forty All-American honors and seven individual championships.
“It takes everybody to have a successful program, to set a foundation of what is to come,” Seib said. “To be a whole person that includes not only the time spent practicing for your event and competing in your event, but the campus life, the student life, the classes that create the atmosphere, that one feels accepted and loved enough to come back, to keep coming back, to stay the course in achieving personal and team success.”
Seib humbly redirected all recognition back to his athletes. Leaving the program in July of 1979 to pursue career and family interests, Seib did not get to fully experience the fruits of his labor that blossomed in the spring 1980 season. Having recruited the entire eight woman team, the Barton women captured both the indoor and outdoor national titles making school history with the first ever team national championships.
In closing remarks, Seib shares an anonymous quote: “Most things said to be impossible are sown only in the mind of the man whose timidity keeps him from making the attempt.”
A native of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, Seib was a two-sport athlete at Adams State College as a member of the basketball team while excelling in the track and field realm as an accomplished javelin and pole vaulter.
“As an athlete, as a person in life, make the attempt,” Seib said. “It’s amazing what can happen.”
The inductees were again honored and recognized between the women’s and men’s basketball games Saturday evening versus Dodge City Community College.
Video replay of the event can be found here