* Some Monday thoughts, including my memories of former Lyndon High basketball coach Nick Dawson, who died today after suffering a stroke.
Dawson, who was 77, was honored Friday night when the Lyndon gym, where he accumulated many of his 542 career victories, was named in his honor. His signature is engraved on the court and during the ceremony he received a standing ovation from the crowd that was there mostly to see him.
After the ceremony, Dawson started walking to the spot near mid-court where he normally sits for games, according to his son-in-law, Dan Harty, who is a Wichita police officer.
Within minutes, Harty wrote in an e-mail, Dawson suffered a stroke and was taken to a hospital in Topeka, where he died Monday morning.
“It was a magical night for him,” Harty said.
I got to know Dawson over the years when I covered high school sports, and wrote a feature about him for The Eagle in 1996, when he was in his 33rd season at Lyndon, which is about 25 miles south of Topeka.
Dawson began his coaching career at Dennison and his son, Nick, is a former Eagle All-State player. Dawson told me 16 years ago that he had plenty of offers over the years to leave Lyndon, but never came close to doing so.
“When I’d have those (job) interviews years ago, I’d get to thinking about it and realize I had a pretty good team coming back here the next year,” Dawson said. “I had a lot of friends in town, things like that. Pretty soon the decades go by, not the years, and you think, ‘Well, you know, this isn’t a bad little place.’ ”
* Such a tragic story out of Kansas City over the weekend. I was too torn by the events to really develop much of an opinion on whether Sunday’s Chiefs game against Carolina should have been played or moved to another day. If pushed, I would have preferred the game be played tonight. But if the Chiefs’ players and coaches were OK with playing the game as scheduled at noon on Sunday, just more than 24 hours after the incident, then who I am to argue?
* I caught a lot of flak from Kansas State fans about my Saturday column, in which I wrote that I was leaning toward voting for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for the Heisman Trophy. Many K-Staters brought up the character issue, citing Manziel’s arrest last summer after an incident outside of a bar in College Station, Texas. Manziel was charged with three misdemeanors, one of which was carrying a false ID. Do K-Staters remember 1998 when their quarterback at the time, Michael Bishop, was arrested in a similar incident in Manhattan? Bishop never faced charges. Neither was a big deal, in my opinion. Bishop finished second in the Heisman voting in ’98 to Texas running back Ricky Williams and I suspect most Heisman voters aren’t holding the “character issue” against Manziel. Nor should they.
* I quickly went through all 35 college football bowl games and decided I’m going to watch four. Maybe five. I hate the college football postseason. I truly do. Kansas State should be playing for something more than a Fiesta Bowl championship. You can’t convince me the Wildcats and at least five other teams aren’t worthy of being in a playoff to decide a true national championship. This boils me.
* And on that note, I’ll sign off. I’ll just say one more time that I respect coaches like Lyndon’s Dawson, who find their happiness in small towns. I’ve been to a lot of small towns in Kansas and always come across folks who love where they are and wouldn’t trade places with anyone. It’s sad that Dawson is gone, but uplifting that he carried his spirit and his love for Lyndon long after he finished coaching.
That’s a great quote, and a life lesson, from a fantastic basketball coach who was happy in his little neck of the woods.