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Bethel mourns death of former basketball coach Sowers

June 22nd, 2020

Floyd Sowers coaching women's basketball at Bethel

Bethel athletics and members of the campus community are mourning the loss of Floyd Sowers, former head coach of Thresher women's basketball.

Sowers died June 19 in Overland Park, Kan., with his family at his side. He was 72.

According to his obituary, Sowers was born in 1947 in Elkhart, Ind., and was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. At Wakarusa (Ind.) High, “he was a star basketball player and also got straight As in music – a real-life Troy Bolton.”

The obituary goes on to say, “Floyd was a true promoter, always willing to lead the charge for causes important to him and looking for ways to honor the achievements of others. He had a gift for seeing the good in people and believing in their potential. And he firmly believed that showing up imperfectly was far better than not showing up at all.

“So it is no surprise that when a massive stroke turned Floyd’s life upside down in 2018, people from every corner of his life rallied around him, bringing full circle the lessons of perseverance, second chances and constant learning that he had imparted to them.” 

“Floyd made a great impact on women’s basketball here at Bethel,” said Athletic Director Tony Hoops. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this time of loss.”

Sowers took over the reins of the women’s basketball program in 1989.

He became the first coach in the program’s history to eclipse 100 career wins. His 106 victories are the second-most among the 14 head coaches who have been part of the women’s basketball program.

Sowers coached three NAIA All-Americans, six NAIA Scholar-Athletes, and numerous All-KCAC performers during his time at Bethel. He resigned from the position after the 1998-1999 season.

He also made a positive impact on hundreds of student-athletes during his time at Bethel.

Vanessa Schroeder, current assistant volleyball coach at Bethel, wrote on social media, “I learned many things in the four years I played basketball for Coach Floyd Sowers.

“One of the greatest things this man of faith taught me was about giving people second chances. What a great thing to take into my teaching and coaching career.”

Sowers helped broaden his team’s world perspective by taking them to play basketball in Europe, growing their ability to adapt to different styles of play.

Among his survivors are his wife, Bonnie Sowers, of Overland Park, three daughters – twins Katie Sowers and Liz Sowers, and Stephanie Sankar – and three grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for June 5, 2021, at Rainbow Mennonite Church, Kansas City, Kan.

See the obituary, including suggestions for memorial donations, at

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see 

In sports, Bethel competes in the 13-member Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and the NAIA. See  Josh Booth

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.