April 2, 2014
By Mark Janssen
As we introduced on Tuesday, for those relatively new to the Kansas State sports scene the name of Larry Dixon may not mean a thing. But for those who followed the Wildcats in 1968 and 1969, he was an all-star on campus.
He was K-State's "Mike Man" as a part of the Wildcat cheer squad for the 1968 and 1969 football years, and for the 1968-69 basketball campaign.
DIXON BEHIND THE MIKE: Between the cheerleaders, yell leaders, Phil Hewitt's band... and now the first-ever "Mike Man," the Wildcat Nation was rocking-and-rolling with the likes of Lynn Dickey, Mack Herron and Clarence Scott on the football field, and with the colorful first-year basketball coach named Cotton Fitzsimmons and his cast of talents that included Jerry Venable, Steve Honeycutt and Gene Williams.
While not having too many specific memories of his "Mike Man" days other than having a "tremendous time," a favorite of the fans was when Dixon carried an Aubrey Nash medical kit onto the court. Through K-State eyes, the Kansas Jayhawk had faked an injury the week before so he didn't have to shoot free throws.
"A K-State fraternity came to me with the medical kit and asked me to use it," said Dixon. "The fans loved it."
Overall, Dixon said, "My job was to get the crowd going to give the team an extra push when things got tough. If I had one 'X' factor, it was convincing the students how important they were and that they could play a bigger role than they might think. My job was to create short chants... not long ones. Basically, it was just to create noise."
Dixon created so much noise in a 60-55 victory over Norm Stewart's Missouri Tigers, that "... I was told that Norm Stewart went to the Big 8 Conference and said I was creating too much noise riling up the fans and that it could create a riot situation. Something like that happened in the Big Ten, so I did basketball only one year, but was allowed to do football another season when I was working on my master's."
'MIKE MAN' TO EDUCATOR: Dixon earned a degree in Business Education, a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Doctorate in Administration Foundation through Kansas State.
After K-State, Dixon served as director of the Douglass Community Center in Manhattan, which he says, "... when you talk about memories and an impact on my life, I am so grateful for that opportunity and the relationships established in that part of the community."
In 1975, Dixon returned to K-State to work with the Upward Bound program that was a federal program designed to help high school students from disadvantage homes or first generation college students from low-income backgrounds.
Dixon then became a Junction Citian serving as an assistant principal at the high school in 1979 for five years, and working at the alternative school for two years, before becoming the principal of Junction City High School in 1992.
Next was a stop in the Geary County schools superintendent's office as an assistant and associate superintendent.
"I never wanted to be the superintendent because of all the politics and the lack of opportunities to work with the kids," said Dixon, who today has a learning center that carries his name.
The now 66-year-old Dixon became semi-retired in 2008, but worked as a consultant for two years before turning his concentration toward the Army Youth Program in Your Neighborhood (AYPYN) program with the United States Army.
The nationwide program is designed to provide after school programs - Spanish, Robotic, Key, etc. - for students of Army parents, who are schooling off-base.
THE PURPLE PATH BETWEEN THEN AND NOW... NEW JERSEY TO KANSAS STATE: Dixon's story is one of the high school Friday Night Hero turned cheer-squad member at Kansas State. It's a story of the high school classroom sluffer to Dr. Dixon at Kansas State.
"It's the old Kansas State story of one being blessed to be around great people. I would have never dreamed that Kansas State would influence me the way it did," said Dixon. "I credit Kansas State to turning me into the person that I am. I was very blessed by Kansas State."