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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

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A tip of the ball cap to Eck Stadium
Former WSU players take pride in baseball program and donate generously to keep it strong


Cooper family
Eck Stadium

Why would former players in Wichita State’s baseball program want to part with their hard-earned dollars to help the university complete its five-phase renovation plan for Eck Stadium?

We asked four of them that question, and each gave strikingly similar answers: So that players today and tomorrow can have the same kinds of experiences they had as student-athletes.

“Those were some of the best times of my life,” says Mike Brandley, a left-handed pitcher who helped take the Shockers to three College World Series appearances in the 1990s. “I want other student-athletes to have that kind of success, so I felt I needed to support them financially.”

Here are snapshots of the four players and their reasons for supporting the Eck Stadium project, one of the top priorities of the Shock the World Campaign for Wichita State University. The contributions of all four will be recognized with naming opportunities in the stadium complex.

Frank and Linda Schulte
Frank and Linda Schulte

Frank and Linda Schulte

Schulte has great memories of his years on the Shocker baseball team, from 1980 to 1984. He pitched for the team that went to the College World Series in 1982 and took second place. In the years that followed, he remained good friends with his pitching coach, Brent Kemnitz, who now works on the development staff for WSU Athletics.

“When he approached me and told me about this project to complete Eck Stadium, I felt like it was the right time and the right project to get involved,” says Schulte, who graduated in 1986 but returned to WSU to earn a geology degree in 1991. Today, he runs the family oil business in Russell.

“This is a way for me and my family to give back to a program that did a lot for me,” he says.

Bryan and Mary Oelkers
Bryan and Mary Oelkers

Bryan and Mary Oelkers

Oelkers, who was inducted into the WSU Shocker Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, played for WSU from 1980 to 1982.

“Without a doubt, the highlight of my overall baseball career was being a part of the team representing Wichita State in its first ever College World Series appearance,” says Oelkers, a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins in 1982. He played professionally through 1989.

Now a senior vice president at MasterCard in the St. Louis area, Oelkers says being able to play baseball at Wichita State was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“While it may sound corny, (former WSU baseball coach) Gene Stephenson, Brent Kemnitz and the atmosphere that surrounded me during my days as a part of the Shocker baseball team were instrumental in helping me become who I am today and having the success I have enjoyed,” he says.

“Because of the long-term impact it had on my life, I have a sense of obligation to continue this tradition of great baseball and building the lives of young men.”

Mike and Michelle McDonald
Mike and Michelle McDonald

Mike and Michelle McDonald

McDonald’s career as a first baseman and left-fielder for the Shockers ended on an extremely high note: Winning the National Championship at the 1989 College World Series. He played four seasons while working toward a bachelor’s degree in finance, then played a year in the San Francisco Giants minor leagues.

Today, McDonald is back in his home state, Oklahoma, working as executive vice president and CCO for Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma. As a kid, he says, it was his dream to play college baseball for one of three schools – Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma or Wichita State.

“Thanks to Gene Stephenson, (assistant coach) Loren Hibbs and Brent Kemnitz, WSU was the only one of those three colleges that gave me that opportunity,” McDonald says. “The baseball program had a tremendous impact on my life and I was able to complete my college education, so my wife and I decided it was time to give back to the university and to the baseball program that had given me so much.”

Mike and Jeanne Brandley
Mike and Jeanne Brandley

Mike and Jeanne Brandley

In his second season of playing for WSU, Brandley entered Shocker lore by pitching a no-hitter – that is, until the very last out in a game against Southern Illinois in 1993. He settled for a one-hitter after allowing a double and striking out the final batter in a 7-0 win.

The left-handed pitcher helped take the Shockers to three College World Series appearances. Along the way, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health services organization and policy, then a master’s degree in physical therapy. Today he is the COO for Senior Care Centers in Dallas.

Brandley says he wants to see the Shockers return to the high level of play he experienced as a student-athlete. For him, that means helping provide top-notch facilities, equipment and resources to give the team an edge in both recruiting and competing.

“I was proud of what we achieved and I’d like to see other student-athletes have that same experience,” he says. “It takes a lot of hard work to be a student-athlete. It’s like you’re working a full-time job and going to class. If I can help support them with good facilities to play in, to work out in and to study in, then that’s meaningful to me.”

For more information

If you would like to support the Eck Stadium project, contact Brent Kemnitz, WSU assistant athletics director, at 316-978-5302 or bkemnitz@wichita.edu.

Brent Kemnitz