It’s show time. All-State Week. The final curtain for 450 or so of the state’s best senior athletes from the 2005-06 school year, competing in 13 events over the next six days in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Coaches Association, founded in 1934, kicks off its clinic and All-State Week today.
It’s a week of golf and swimming and wrestling. It’s a week of volleyball and baseball and tennis. It’s a week of girls and boys basketball and, of course, football.
It’s a carnival. A festival. A sporting smorgasbord.
When the coaches began such get-togethers 72 years ago, their group was known as the Coaches and Officials Association and they staged a clinic in Oklahoma City.
Their first All-State football game was played in 1938 at Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill High School.
As the association grew, so did the All-State menu.
The coaches added basketball in 1944 and baseball two years later.
The number of member coaches in the association jumped from 13 the first year to over 300 by the fourth year.
Today, the association has some 7,000 members.
To the first three sports, the coaches added wrestling in 1974, and during the past decade, volleyball, tennis, golf and swimming have been included. Also, All-State cheerleaders and trainers have been brought into the fold.
When the All-State games began, teams were divided into North and South.
A couple of decades ago, the coaches began choosing up sides according to East and West, basically using Interstate 35 as the line of demarcation.
All-Staters are selected by the membership of the Oklahoma Coaches Association. Only seniors are eligible.
Rogers County will be represented this week in six events.
Three sports take center stage on Monday: golf, swimming and wrestling.
Chelsea’s David Moss will take part in the swimming event.
Inola’s Josh Stonecipher, Oologah’s Corey Johnson and Catoosa’s Brett Gray and Randy White are the county’s four All-State wrestlers.
There are no county golfers participating.
On Tuesday, the spotlight shifts to volleyball, tennis and baseball.
Claremore’s Valerie McKinney will play in the tennis match, and Catoosa’s Casey Molencupp will be in the volleyball match.
In baseball, three teammates from the American Legion Rogers County Rangers will be suiting up together. From Oologah, Curt Simpson and Blake Kelley will be joined by Claremore’s Zane williams.
That will just about do it for the area All-Staters.
When girls basketball unfolds on Wednesday, the lone representative from Rogers County will be coach Gary Kennemer of Verdigris. He was the Coach of the Year on the Claremore Progress 2005-06 all-county team, and he will be carrying the county banner when he guides the Small School East girls team.
Even in football, the county has been shut out.
Brian Lepak of Claremore was selected to the All-State team, but he has left for Colorado State where he will be a scholarship player in the fall.
Occasionally, an athlete might be selected to two All-State teams. The athlete, however, can play in only one game.
Claremore’s Zane Williams had expected, had hoped, to be one of those rare athletes, one earning All-State honors in football and baseball during his just-completed senior year.
He had a fine football season, making a talented transition from running back to quarterback, but it was not spectacular enough to merit All-State consideration.
His baseball talents, though, were another matter. As a catcher and as a hitter, Williams had few peers, and his All-State selection was solidified before the Zebras’ season was completed.
He was, naturally, disappointed, but that football let down did not affect his approach to baseball. Unless one considers his focus and drive in the spring as a direct link to the frustration in the fall.
“I was really excited about the start of the baseball season,” he said the other day. “I really wanted to make All-State. That was one of my goals.”
Zane and his twin, Steffen, signed early baseball scholarship agreements to attend Connors State College in the fall.
Entering the baseball season with a scholarship in hand, Zane said, enabled him to take a more relaxed approach to the game.
“I didn’t have to worry,” he said. “I could just have fun.”
He did not permit many opposing pitchers or coaches to have similar stress-free days.
He had an All-State spring.
“It didn’t happen in football, but this kind of makes up for it,” he said.