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The Hesston Record
345 Old Hwy 81
Hesston, KS 67062
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Little Girls Making Big Strides

Posted 4/20/2017

Record Staff

Girls are on the run at the Emma Creek Classic on April 29.  Every year, hundreds of women have gathered in Hesston to participate in the 5K race.  For the last decade, Brandy Coker has inspired little girls to lace up their running shoes and take part in the Emma Creek Classic.  With a team of around 100 girls and their mothers and grandmothers, the Hesston Elementary School team is one of the largest in the race.

“I think it’s important for kids to understand the importance of physical activity and the feeling of accomplishment after completing a three-mile run.  It gives us an opportunity to talk about goal setting and pushing through,” she said.

To help her young runners prepare for the race, Coker hosts training sessions every Tuesday for the girls and for their mothers or grandmothers.

“We are outside at King Park and try to add more distance each week.  If its raining, we practice inside and run in the halls. They really love running in the halls,” she said.

Coker added, “We try to make it fun.  We always meet in the gym and talk about setting a pace and what it looks like. We talk about doing the best we can and trying to do a little better than last time,” she said.

As the team captain for the last 10 years, Coker has seen girls start running the Emma Creek Classic in Kindergarten and make great strides over the course of elementary school.

“I love the kids that sign up in kindergarten that walk then sprint and walk then sprint and by the time they are in fourth graders they are running the whole race without stopping. It’s fun to see that growth and competitive drive; to see them setting goals and wanting to do better,” she said.

Coker handles the paperwork for all of her participants, as well as for any family members running with the girls, packaging them all into family groups to be sent home with the children when race packets arrive.

“The paperwork is easy for me.  I’m a very organized person.  The challenge is kids are busy and teachers are busy and finding a day I could have enough supervision with enough teachers that doesn’t conflict with the high school or the middle school or dance classes is tough. Everyone has something going on,” she said.

Coker said teachers volunteer their time to help supervise the girls, and even girls without parents running in the race are able to participate because of the supplemental adult supervision. 

As a teacher and as a makeshift coach, Coker forms special connections with some of her little runners.

“Last year a girl said she was going to stay with me the whole race and she did. At the end of the race she got to beat me at the end,” she said.

An athlete in her own right, Coker said after college she was looking for a way to remain fit and competitive. 

“I would say the Emma Creek Classic has sparked my desire to run in other races.  I always ran, but I hadn’t done a race.  Now I run in races four, five, sometimes six times a year.  I have done several 10Ks and last spring I ran a half-marathon,” she said.

Coker said the last 10 years of coordinating a team has come with a message for her little runners. 

“I want these girls to learn that hard work pays off; goal-setting pays off; trying your best pays off. That can carry over into every aspect of their lives. You will reap the rewards if you work hard,” she said.

As a teacher, the Emma Creek Classic gives her an opportunity to lead by example outside a classroom. 

“It’s a great opportunity to be a good role model for the younger generation and be a good role model for elementary school kids. Physical activity is so important to have in life,” she said.

Once her girls get running, Coker said they often continue and find success in athletics beyond Emma Creek and elementary school.

“I look at the middle school team and several of their kids were my Emma Creek participation kiddos. It’s neat to see some successful Emma Creek competitors running in cross country or track and being successful. Its neat to see kids running in King Park just to get some exercise and stay active,” she said.



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Simien: Athletics Are Fleeting Compared to Christ’s Message

Posted 4/20/2017


Hesston Record Staff

Wayne Simien won an NBA Championship ring with the Miami Heat and played in two Final Fours at the University of Kansas.

Yet the day he fondly remembers July 12, 2003, the day he became a Christian and his life changed forever.

Simien told a full crowd Wednesday, April 12, at Hesston High School about the sacrifices one must make to play big-time sports. Hesston Middle School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsored the event.

“One of the dangerous things bout sports is that it can become a god,” he said. “Basketball was my god because it was the number one thing in my life.”

Simien retired from basketball after two seasons in the NBA and one year playing in Spain. He said he realized the only reason he was playing was because people were expecting him to do so.

“They said I was crazy, especially because I was going into the ministry,” he said.

He and wife Katie have been with the Called to Greatness campus ministry for seven years.

Simien explained the significance of Wednesday during Holy Week. He said everyone could relate to Judas, who traded the life of Christ for 30 pieces of silver on that day. To illustrate his point, he passed around a chain upon which were linked all of his championship rings (except the NBA one). He said he brought it out not as a boast, but rather as a visual aid for how basketball success was his price for turning his back on Christ. Sadly, a round ball filled with air was the driving force in his life, he added.

“Once you get success, it will fall through your fingers like sand, and you’ll be longing for more,” he said.

Simien said his best experience in the NBA was when the Heat pulled off a miraculous comeback in Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks to claim the championship. The team returned to euphoric fans in Miami. Simien said a sobering moment occurred when the team was addressing fans at a packed arena. All anyone could talk about was whether the Heat could do it again next year. Fans were chanting “Re-peat! Re-peat!” He said the pinnacle for fans was for their team to win a championship, but the satisfaction lasted for only two days.

His journey toward Christ began when he was sitting on the steps of campus at KU when a fellow student who didn’t talk or look like him shared how Jesus changed his life. Simien said he thought it was impossible to be a young person following Christ. He started reading the Bible with the student and went to a gathering where he saw other students having fun while practicing their faith.

Simien asked everyone to hold up a finger. He said Jesus had supremacy and needed to be first in people’s lives.

“Every time I’m first in my life, I ruin it; I wreck it,” he said.

Simien gave a shout-out to Hesston at the beginning of his talk. He said El Cerrito was one of his favorite restaurants in Kansas, and is friends with the Schadler, Hershberger and Spencer families.

“I see Ryan all the time,” he said about KU football player Ryan Schadler. “We were texting back and forth earlier in the day.”

Simien also answered a few questions youths before signing autograph for a long line of seekers. One girl asked him, “Why not K-State.”

“K-State never recruited me. Just kidding,” he said. The Leavenworth native added that he was going to college to play basketball, so it came down to KU. He pretended to be interested in the Wildcats so he could attend a football game between Nebraska and Kansas State when both were ranked in the top 5.

When asked by a young boy if he remembered his first points, Simien told of his most memorable shot. Teammate Aaron Miles threw a perfect pass to him on the elbow in the final seconds. He had made the shot thousands of times, but this time the ball bounced around every part of the rim before rolling out, and “tiny Bucknell” had pulled off the upset against KU in 2005.

Seventh-grader Brynn Johnston took heed of Simien’s message. “That you don’t want to put anything in your life before God,” she said. “God is your number one goal, and he always will be.”

FCA sponsor Heather Ferralez said students enjoyed spending time around Simien, who joined them for pizza before his talk. She was “pleasantly surprised” with the turnout, which included people from surrounding counties and area colleges.

A silent auction and baked goods sale raised about $500, which will be used to get another guest speaker next year.

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More Safety Signals Being Added To Lincoln And Ridge Intersection

Posted 4/20/2017

Record  Staff 

In the coming weeks residents will notice additional lights at the corner of Ridge Road and Lincoln Boulevard.  Flashing red lights will be added to the tops of all four stop signs at the intersection within the next 30 days. The total cost of the lights will be $7,448.

The lights will be solar powered and flashing 24 hours. 

At the April city council meeting, council members discussed ways to make the intersection safer, as several drivers have been observed running the stop signs.

However, according to City Administrator Gary Emry the intersection does not have a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) recommendation for a traffic light after conducting traffic studies.  

“The stop signs now are oversized. We still have people running this intersection. This is the next step,” he said.

 Emry added the city looked into adding rumble strips before the intersection. However, cutting strips into the road would cause serious degradation of the asphalt and adding bolt-in strips would complicate snow removal.

Council member Larry Fuqua inquired if the expense was part of the Street Department budget. Emry indicated, ‘this was unplanned so we will push something else.

“At the end of the year we typically have that amount of money in the budget.” 

Mayor Dave Kauffman expressed concern it would take a major accident before a light is installed.

“I get both sides. I think something will happen there at some point. But I would rather do something before hand.  I have no fact to base that on but if someone has their head down texting, they’re not going to see a light anyway,” he said.

Councilman Jason Jones added, “We are doing everything in our power. If something happens, that is out of our control.” 

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