The Baker Orange

Grossner honored with community award

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Mike Grossner, Baker University’s head football coach, was recently named as a recipient of the Kansas City Sports Commission’s Community Champion award. Grossner is to receive this award on April 15 in Kansas City.

Although the award will don his name, Grossner believes the entire program is responsible for the honor.

“I am just the benefactor for being the head coach of this football program,” Grossner said.

He led the Wildcats to an 8-3 finish last season, just barely missing the NAIA Playoffs after reaching the second round in 2013 and the first round in 2012. After becoming the head coach in 2004, he immediately recognized a need to improve a once-NAIA powerhouse under Charlie Richard.

“When I first got here, I saw somewhere that we were ranked 98th in the country, and for a good part of last year we were ranked second,” Grossner said. “My staff and I have put in 11 years to raise the awareness of this program.”

The 11 years of hard work has translated into success for the program, with 27 wins in the past three seasons. But according to Grossner, the success in 2014 came despite mounting adversity throughout the year. First, Grossner was diagnosed with cancer before the season started. Then, in the season-opening game against Ottawa University, two of Baker’s top players suffered knee injuries, with one, sophomore Clarence Clark, missing the entire campaign. On Oct. 29, sophomore Sione Maumau died unexpectedly in his dorm room, capping a difficult series of events.

“We battled through some stuff and had a reasonable amount of success, and that’s my understanding of why I got the award,” Grossner said.

He also highlighted the programs high graduation rate and commended current and former players that he has helped become assets on and off the football field.

“The award was for community service for sports and I believe we have done a great deal to put out great products to society,” Grossner said.

He will have a new group of young men to mold after signing 27 players shortly after National Signing Day.

“Since we have 48 incoming sophomores, we could cut down the number of recruits we needed. We could be more selective,” he said. “There were some guys that we would have been all over last year that just didn’t make the cut this year.”

If Grossner has a particular favorite of the current recruiting class, he did lot share.

“We’re excited to see each and every one of our guys, whether it’s this next season or farther down the road,” he said.

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