New Campaign Brings K-State Family Together

During his first tour through the new Vanier Family Football Complex, former K-State great Jaime Mendez (1990-93) took a moment to remember a friend. 
With the hustle and bustle of facility tours surrounding him, he stood in the Wildcats’ football shaped locker room and stared motionlessly at the locker he recently donated.
Through the ‘Family Locker Campaign,’ former Wildcat football players have the exclusive opportunity to leave their legacy by giving back and receiving a plaque prominently displayed on the front of a locker used by a current member of the K-State football team. The names of those who gave to the campaign are displayed at the top of the locker, placed to the right of the current player’s name. 
“This is the one that I purchased,” Mendez said, his eyes welled with tears. “Blair played with me when I was here. We’re from the same hometown. He moved to LA when I moved to LA and he was one of my best friends. He died seven years ago.”
Mendez touched the plaque with his former teammate’s name on it. 
“When they asked me to do this, I said, ‘Sure, but I don’t want my name up there,’” Mendez, a member of the K-State Football Ring of Honor and the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, continued. “My name is already all over this place, so I wanted to do it for him.”
Blair Detelich, a defensive tackle from Youngstown, Ohio, played football at K-State from 1990-93. He was a member of the Wildcats’ first-ever bowl victory – the 1993 Copper Bowl – and was a friend to everyone he met.
He passed away on January 9, 2008. Just four days older than Mendez, Detelich was only 36 years old. 
“It’s just really cool to see it because he wasn’t a star here or anything like that, but he did play here,” said Mendez after snapping a photo of the locker to send to Detelich’s father. “Everybody loved him, everybody knew him.”
Through K-State Athletics’ new locker campaign, current Wildcat football players are given the opportunity to connect with the past – an opportunity numerous members of the K-State football family have gladly taken part in. 
“It has been great to see the tremendous response from our football alumni who have given back in support of their program,” said Matt Giller, K-State’s Assistant Director of Development. “With over 300 members of the Golden Cats and the 95 individuals that gave to this campaign, it truly represents what the word ‘Family’ is all about.”
The campaign is bringing former players together, reuniting old teammates and creating special memories for fathers and sons. 
Dana Dimel, K-State’s co-offensive coordinator who played for the Wildcats from 1984-86, and his son, fullback Winston Dimel, share a plaque on Winston’s current locker. 
“It’s really special because he played here and now he coaches here, so he’s been through everything,” explained Winston about sharing his locker with his father. “To now to be able to go through what he went through and to be able to go through it with him, that’s pretty special. To see his name up there with mine, it really means a lot.”
Like the Dimels, other father-son duos also donated to the campaign and have their names displayed together. Sean Snyder, K-State’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator who played for the Cats from 1990-92, and his son, Tate Snyder (2010-14), share a locker, while K-State radio color analyst Stan Weber (1980-84) and his son, Stanton – currently a K-State wide receiver – also share a locker.
The new campaign gives players from the past the opportunity to continue to be a part of the K-State Family, even after they have hung up their jerseys. 
“I think this is great for everybody that’s played here to stay involved in the university,” said John Chandler, a place kicker for the Wildcats from 1980-83. “Coach Snyder has done a great job of keeping all of us former players active and in the know with everything. So to be a part of a facility like this, even thought it’s a small part, it’s heartwarming.”
Like Giller mentioned, 95 former players have already contributed to the campaign. Sixty-nine players have donated full lockers and 26 players have split lockers with teammates, sons and brothers. Overall, contributions have reached more than $400,000 which all go into direct funding of the Vanier Family Football Complex.
“For me, it was time to make more of a commitment with Kansas State Athletics,” explained Gary “Butch” Olsen, a defensive back for K-State from 1966-67. “I’m a veterinarian, so I’ve always been involved with the veterinary school, but this locker room is fantastic. It’s cool to have your name here, and it’s just cool to feel the aura about this whole facility. It’s a pretty special place.”
Whether it’s remembering old friends or connecting current football players to the past, the Family Locker Campaign has brought the K-State Family together like never before. 
“I think this program, this idea, it is awesome,” said Mendez. “I was really excited when they called me about this piece. I think it’s good to give the old guys the opportunity to do that, to link up with these young men and support them, not only financially, but also to show them the history of some of the guys who played here before.” 
To view the list of former players who have donated to this campaign, please click here. 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.