TOPEKA, Kan. - Five individuals have been selected for induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame Class of 2019. Awards will be presented during 2019 in conjunction with a KSHSAA-sponsored state function/championship, or locally at the inductee's request. The time and location of each induction ceremony will be announced at a later date at www.kshsaa.org.
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The Class of 2019 Hall of Fame inductees include:
OSCAR BIRT, GIRARD – OFFICIAL
Since 1960, Oscar Birt has touched the lives of thousands of student-athletes as a registered track and field official. During this span of 57 years he started over 800 meets at all levels - regular season, league, regional, state and college - and with an average of 50 starts per meet, he fired his starter pistol well over 40,000 times. Via the Missouri Valley Officials Association, he acquired the coveted title of Master Starter. Throughout his career Oscar had one thing in mind and that was to do the best job he could for the student-athletes. When Oscar was the starter, coaches knew their students were going to get a fair shake. His knowledge of track and field was only surpassed by his love for the sport. He never asked an athlete if they won an event. Rather, he asked them what their time, distance or height was that day.
MARCEL CARTER, GAINESVILLE, FL – STUDENT (Shawnee Heights HS, 1985-1989)
Marcel Carter was undeniably one of the best high school sprinters in Kansas. He rewrote the record books nearly every time he stepped on the track for a race, becoming the only male at the Kansas State Track Meet to win the 200m four straight years (1986-1989). In addition, he added two gold medals in both the 100m and 400m, plus the 4x100 m relay. He led the T-Birds to a 5A team championship in 1989, and 29 years later still holds school records in the 100m, 200m and 400m. Following high school he attended the SEC sprint power-house University of Florida, receiving numerous All-American and Conference honors. He became one of the top sprinters in Florida history and in 2000 he competed in the U.S. Olympic trials.
FRED COTTRELL, CONWAY SPRINGS – FACULTY
Winning 12 state titles and five state runner-up finishes spanning six consecutive decades, and coaching 1,400 varsity athletic contests, Coach Fred Cottrell has been a head coach and an assistant coach for 52 years, the past 44 at Douglass HS and Conway Springs HS. There isn’t much he hasn’t coached: football (48 yrs.), track and field (43 yrs.), basketball (29 yrs.), baseball (6 yrs.), cross country (2 yrs.). Fred’s longevity made a meaningful impact in the lives of countless young people. He considered himself a teacher first and saw athletics as an extension of his call as a teacher. Though he had been a head coach at various times, Fred felt he was best suited to be an assistant coach. His charismatic personality and personal magnetism made a huge difference in the lives of so many.
PERRY ELLIS, WICHITA – STUDENT (Wichita Heights HS, 2008-2012)
As a Wichita Heights HS freshman, Perry Ellis set four goals for his high school career: 1. class valedictorian; 2. win four state basketball titles; 3. earn a DI college scholarship; 4. be named a McDonald’s All-American. At the end of his senior year, he checked off all four goals. Perry was a tremendous athlete and an even better person. Additional athletic accomplishments include: four-year starter, four GWAL titles, Heights career scoring leader (2,231 pts.), Heights career rebounding leader (984), GWAL second leading scorer, four-time Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonalds 1st Team All-American. This student athlete had a 4.0 GPA and was recognized as a Kansas Honor Scholar and Governor’s Scholar. Perry had a stellar career at the University of Kansas and was the 2016 Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year.
ERIK NIELSEN – STUDENT (Kansas City-Sumner Academy, 1991-1995)
Erik Nielsen was born with a high musical aptitude and intelligence. Starting with the oboe in fifth grade and the harp soon after, he performed in the symphonic band, pep band, jazz band and orchestra. He also played the xylophone and glockenspiel in marching band. He never received less than a “1” rating in any KSHSAA music festival. He was the principal oboist of the KMEA state orchestra for three years and performed with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. Eric excelled academically as well (4.14 GPA). After high school he earned degrees from the prestigious Julliard and Curtis Music Schools with majors in harp, oboe and conducting. He has played oboe and harp in some of the world’s best orchestras. “Maestro Nielsen” has an amazing career as an orchestral conductor and composer on both sides of the ocean.
The Hall of Fame is housed in the Kansas State High School Activities Association offices, 601 SW Commerce Place in Topeka and is open Monday–Friday during business hours (directions at www.kshsaa.org). The Hall of Fame is also available via the KSHSAA “Gallery of Champions” at http://www.kshsaachamps.org/.
The honorees were chosen from nominations reviewed by a selection committee. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, an individual must have made an unusually outstanding contribution in interschool activities, either as a student with exceptional talent, or as an adult working with youth (such as an activity coach, director or sponsor, an administrator, an official or a contributor). Hall of Fame inductees may no longer be active in the field for which they are nominated (exception: contributor with over 30 years of outstanding service).
Each year schools and communities throughout Kansas submit many nominations of individuals who have made tremendous contributions in the field of interschool activities. Hall of Fame information is available on the KSHSAA website at www.kshsaa.org. Nomination forms are available by contacting the KSHSAA. Any nominations to be considered for induction in 2020 must be submitted prior to November 1, 2019.