Harris named ‘Man of the Year’
Baldwin City has the Kansas State Man of the Year right here, but, not surprisingly, he's pretty modest about it.
Kit Harris, Baldwin High School wrestling coach, earned the honor Sunday, which was presented by Wrestling USA Magazine. It goes annually to the person in the state who has done the most for the sport of wrestling.
"Kit was my selection for '04," said Richard Fergola, president of the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association (KWCA). "I look for someone who works hard on wrestling, not just their team. Kit was definitely worthwhile."
As usual, Harris doesn't take all the credit, but he is appreciative of the award.
"It's a good feeling to be recognized and honored for this award," said Harris. "Wrestling is just one example of an activity that can teach a lot of valuable life lessons to kids. I enjoy being a part of that process ... influencing and guiding in that experience. It's educational.
"There sure have been a lot of Baldwin folk who have helped me out in hosting events and supporting me in various ways," he said. "They are a huge part of this award, probably more so than they realize."
The list of Harris' wrestling involvement is lengthy. Coaching credits include: five years as Kansas National Team coach; 10 years coaching freestyle/Greco Roman club teams; five years as head BHS wrestling coach; one year as Kansas Cadet Director; one year coaching Southern Plains staff; two years coaching Kansas Cadet National Duals team; and two years each as assistant and head wrestling coach at Washburn Rural.
As for coaches associations, Harris has been plenty busy there, too. Among those are: three years as KWCA president and another three as vice president; one year as academic chair; and four years as rankings coordinator. He has also served one year as USA Wrestling-Kansas cadet director.
Also along the way, Harris has coached 11 of 23 BHS all-time state placers, six of the nine state finalists, two of the three state champions; was named Class 4A Coach of the Year in 2002; was named Lawrence Journal-World All-Area Coach of the Year in 2002; and was selected for Coaches Development Seminar in fall of 2003 at the Olympic Training Center.
Harris has been heavily involved in hosting numerous wrestling events, including three of the last five Kansas State Freestyle/Greco Roman Tournaments; four similar tournaments in Topeka; three years of the Washburn Rural Championship Duals; three years of the Baldwin Invitational Tournament, which he started; and one year with the BIT junior varsity tournament.
Other involvement includes various roles with youth wrestling and wrestling officiating. He has started the Winner's Circle at BHS and leads the BHS wrestlers in a host of volunteer efforts.
His philosophy goes beyond wrestling, too.
"I always try to take time to talk about character in teaching or coaching ... the value of being a good person, treating people right," said Harris. "This is important above all else. My parents impressed upon me that being successful in something is meaningless unless you were a good person along the way.
"I want to be a good teacher and coach, but not nearly as much as I want to be a good father and husband," he said. "My family's support is important. They need me and I need them."
The Man of the Year award often goes to long-time wrestling coaches, but Fergola believes Harris deserves it now.
"Those (older coaches) are people that need to be honored, but Kit is heavily involved and needed to be recognized," said Fergola. "I made sure he got the award this year because he deserves it."