SE: Hall of Fame Spotlight: Connie Teaberry

K-State Athletics will honor a group of 10 outstanding individuals this weekend with their induction into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. This group marks the 11th class in the history of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and will be honored with an induction ceremony on Friday, Jan. 29, before being recognized at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Ole Miss at 1 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum the following day. Stay tuned to the K-State Sports Extra throughout the next few weeks for more information about each of this year’s K-State Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees. 

When Connie Teaberry arrived at K-State in 1988, she may not have known exactly who would be coaching her in the high jump, but what she did know was she was exactly where she wanted to be. 

Teaberry was recruited to K-State by former Wildcat track and field sprint coach Darryl Anderson, a 1983 K-State graduate and six-year Wildcat track and field assistant coach. However, despite the fact she was yet to meet her jumps coach, everything about K-State just felt right.

“When they recruited me, they let me know that they were in the process of hiring a coach, but, honestly, my choosing K-State is a testament to the program,” said Teaberry, who is currently in her 12th season as the head coach of the Northern Illinois track and field program. “The coach wasn’t in place when I came on my visit, but everything else was in place: the academics, the assistant coaches who were there, the team. There are probably not a lot of student-athletes who would choose a school knowing their coach was not even there yet, but there were so many other pluses with the university and the people surrounding the program that it made my decision easy.”

And as time played out, Teaberry, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was quick to find her decision was the right one. The talented high jumper began her exciting career with the Wildcats the same year current Wildcat head coach Cliff Rovelto – a coach she has now appropriately dubbed “the guru of jumps” – was hired at K-State.

In her four years with the Wildcats, Teaberry was an eight-time letterwinner in track and field (four indoor, four outdoor) and earned four-consecutive Outdoor All-American honors in the high jump (1989-92). She was a two-time Indoor All-American (1990, 1992) and won two-consecutive indoor Big Eight titles (1991-92).  

Her time at K-State is well remembered and will be celebrated this weekend as she, along with nine other Wildcats, will be inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. 

“Connie is certainly well-deserving of this recognition,” said Rovelto. “She had tremendous success in her four years at K-State, both as a student and as an athlete. She was integral in helping us build a high jump tradition.”

But her success in the high jump wasn’t always easy for Teaberry. Rovelto explained Teaberry was faced with injury and was forced to overcome obstacles if she wanted to achieve greatness. 

“Few are aware, but Connie competed for four years as a Wildcat, winning conference championships and scoring numerous points for K-State at the NCAA Championships, with virtually no ACL in her penultimate leg,” her former coach explained. “Having to train and compete with a knee brace certainly was not an advantage for a high jumper, but she was able to successfully manage and cope with the situation.”

Despite it all, Teaberry never let it slow her down and went on to be among the most successful track and field athletes in K-State history. Her jump of 1.89/6.02-25 – then a school record – at the 1992 Indoor Big Eight Championship currently ranks No. 3 in the K-State record book, while her leap of 1.86/6-01.51 at the Outdoor Big Eight Championship is tied for No. 3 at K-State all-time for the outdoor record.

“The growth I saw working with Coach Rovelto was incredible,” said Teaberry. “I went from jumping 5-9 to jumping 6-2. That change says a lot about the work he puts in with his student athletes; he’s an incredible man.”

Though Teaberry graduated from K-State with a degree in pre-nursing in 1992 and hadn’t planned on going into coaching, she was quick to find out during her time as a graduate assistant coach at Kentucky (1992-95) that she was not only passionate about the profession, but also pretty good at. 

“I had no intentions on coaching, but I just got to the point where, as a graduate assistant, I just loved it,” said Teaberry. “Now I look back and think of all the things I was taught. I use those things now to motivate and teach my student-athletes. I think I’ve taken a lot from Coach Rovelto’s excellent coaching and his style of getting kids motivated, even the workouts; when you learn from the best, you start to implement that into your own program and doctor it to your own student-athletes. It’s a tremendous help.”

Along with school and coaching at Kentucky, Teaberry continued training and went on to become an Olympic high jumper with Team U.S.A. Following her Wildcat career, she participated in U.S.A./Mobil Track & Field Championships and World Championships (1993-95), two Olympic Trials (1992, 1996), the Atlanta Olympics (1996) and the World University Games (1993). 

Prior to taking over as the women’s track head coach at Northern Illinois in 2005, Teaberry was the assistant women’s track coach at Toledo (1995-98), Arizona State (1998-99) and Ohio (2004).

Now heading into her 12th season with the NIU Huskies, Teaberry said she and Rovelto cross paths often at track meets. Most recently, the two had the opportunity to catch up at the 2015 Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. While their focus is always on their competing teams, if they do happen to be coaching at the same meet, they try to spend a few minutes catching up. 

This weekend, though, will be all about Teaberry. It will be all about her Wildcat career and her impact on the K-State track and field program.

“I think when you’re recognized for an award like this, it’s a validation that those before you and those after you kind of acknowledge the hard work that you put in,” said Teaberry. “Being a student-athlete then, and especially being in coaching now, I’ve really started to realize all the hard work that is put in, so being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Kansas State kind of solidifies that all the hard work I put in was worth it.”

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