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Bethel to celebrate Flickner, volleyball with Hall of Fame honors, 40th-year events

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College is honored to recognize Diane Sanders Flickner as its 2013 Athletic Boosters Club Hall of Fame inductee.

Flickner will be recognized as part of this year’s Fall Festival celebration, Oct. 4 during the Hall of Fame Induction Banquet. 

Flickner retired in July 2013, after 35 years of coaching, teaching and administration at Bethel (she was athletic director, 1990-2011).

After beginning her teaching and coaching career at Buhler High School, Flickner (who married Dennis Flickner, longtime Newton High School teacher who also retired this year) came to Bethel in 1978, where her Thresher volleyball teams compiled a 400-147 overall record and a 169-21 KCAC record during her 11 years as coach.

During that time, they won eight KCAC titles. Flickner’s 1981 Bethel team was one of the best ever to compete for the Threshers, winning the 1981 KCAC championship with a 16-0 conference record, earning national recognition as a Top 10 team in overall Division II rankings, winning the NAIA District 10 Tournament and placing third at the NAIA National Volleyball Tournament in Athens, W.Va.

After she became athletic director at Bethel in 1990, Flickner was honored numerous times as NAIA District 10 and KCAC Athletic Director of the Year. She was instrumental in developing and implementing Bethel’s Champions of Character program for student-athletes.

Flickner was associate professor of health and physical education with teaching emphases in public school health and physical education, curriculum design, sport sociology and sport management.

Being at a Mennonite college yet unfamiliar with Mennonites back in 1978, Flickner recalled, she felt a bit like the proverbial fish out of water. But she adds without hesitation that she stayed so long because “Bethel is worth it,” for many reasons.

Chief among these, she said, are the people she worked with over the years – from the Thresher Stadium design committee to the various coaches, from her colleagues in the health and physical education and athletic training departments and Faculty Welfare Committee to maintenance, administrative office and development staff (“I can’t say enough about those who work behind the scenes”).

“So many of those I worked with are gone [from Bethel] now,” Flickner said. “That’s what happens when you’ve been here so long. Brad [Born] and also John Sheriff were so helpful with advice and guidance on letting go when it’s time.”

In addition to people, Flickner says she’ll remember “a joy of working here being ‘doing more with less’ and being creative. The fun things, like breaking Guinness world records and Booster Club activities.

“And finally, being a Thresher and being committed to Bethel College. I’ve had the best time of my life.”

“As younger faculty come through at this time of year, interviewing for open positions, I think of … how rare it is to have 35 years at one institution,” said Bethel President Perry B. White at Flickner’s farewell reception. “There are a lot of places [she] could have gone – to a bigger city or more money – but [she] gave her life to students at Bethel College.

“The impact of all those lives touched is awe-inspiring. Few people leave that kind of legacy.”

The 2013 Bethel Hall of Fame Induction Banquet is open to the public. Tickets are available, for a donation of any size, at Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center.

The Oct. 4 dinner, to be held in the Schultz Student Center cafeteria, begins at 7 p.m. with a fall sports review and a basketball preview. The induction ceremony follows. For more information, call 316-284-5205.

The Bethel volleyball program is celebrating its 40th anniversary during this year’s Fall Festival. In addition to the Hall of Fame induction honoring former coach Flickner, on Oct. 5, there will be a special time for current and former volleyball players, coaches and managers to reconnect, and a 40th-anniversary program, all beginning at noon in the Fine Arts Center; and a 40th-anniversary reception in Thresher Gym immediately following the varsity game, Bethel vs. Kansas Wesleyan, which starts at 2 p.m.

For a complete Fall Festival schedule, go to www.bethelks.edu/fallfest, where you can view and print a festival program.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14.

In sports, Bethel competes in the 10-school Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu and www.bethelthreshers.com.