Kansas Pregame & Nex-Tech Wireless are joining forces to recognize the individuals behind the scenes who help area school sports teams achieve success. Administrators, team managers, assistant coaches, booster club members and more.
Please email nominations for the Nex-Tech Wireless Fall Supporting Cast to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 23rd, 2021, and check out our Spring Supporting Cast below.
Goessel Athletic Director, Brian Lightner, is a perfect example of someone who excels at his position, and in no year prior has the value of having a fantastic AD shined quite so brightly.
“Throughout this COVID-influenced school year, Mr. Lightner has been a steady leader in our athletic department,” coach Garrett Hiebert said. “He has done a great job communicating to our community, athletes, and coaches about COVID-related guidance from KSHSAA and schedule changes. Mr. Lightner has definitely gone the extra mile to keep our school community informed, keep our athletes safe, and give our teams the opportunity to compete as often as possible.”
Lightner, like many other Kansas ADs, doesn’t wear just one hat. He has a considerable variety of teaching and coaching experience throughout his career. Currently, he is the 6-12 AD, an assistant track coach, and a math teacher.
Just a quick review of Goessel’s school board meetings shows the spectrum across which Lightner works. He successfully pushed for a new speaker system for the track/football stadium, a new wireless sound system for the high school gym, has pushed heavily for a change in math curriculum and updated textbooks, and continues to champion a number of other important causes throughout the school.
He also helped Goessel girl’s cross country to its first ever state championship in 2016 as the team’s head coach.
No particular activity has seen Lightner’s passion shine through more than track and field.
“He has advocated for the building and maintaining of quality track facilities at Goessel,” Hiebert said. “He also helped facilitate the purchase of an FAT timing system in 2015. He expertly runs the meet entry and timing systems. He has begun posting live results during home track meets as well. Most of all, he communicates effectively with his meet workers and event judges so that everyone is on the same page and he retains quality workers from year to year.”
With the improvements that have been made in the facilities, it’s not surprising there has been an uptick in use as a center for track and field meets.
“Mr. Lightner does a great job in his role as AD throughout the school year, but the spring is his time to truly shine,” Hiebert said. “Between junior high and high school, Goessel is scheduled to host eight track meets. The entire junior high track schedule will be contested at Goessel’s home track.”
The largest of those meets hosts up to 20 teams making Lightner a busy man in the latter months of the school year.
Since before man first landed on the moon, Terrell Olson has been officiating high school sports. The Kansas officiating legend began his career in 1968 and has spent many of his evenings since patrolling fields and courts alike.
This past fall, the veteran white hat finally decided to call it a career after 52 years. To his credit, Olson has presided over 19 state basketball championships and numerous playoff football games. In many competitions, he had the opportunity to officiate with his sons, Travis and Troy.
Olson’s joy on the sideline was magnetic enough to draw them both into the officiating ranks. Travis, now a veteran official for the last 28 years, recalls how his father’s career inspired him.
“My dad and all of his buddies, seeing how much fun they had when they went on officiating trips,” Travis recalled. “Hanging out with the guys and the thrill of the game. A way to stay in the game after your playing days and getting to do that with guys that are in it for the same reason.”
Travis remembers the time officiating with his father fondly, if not at times having a bit of a learning curve.
“It was awesome,” Travis said. “Sometimes it could get a little tense, just because of the different stages we were in our careers.”
Travis also noted an important trait of his father’s: “He remembers everything,” making the reality of being a budding referee under an expert all the more daunting.
Travis noted a few prominent officiating opportunities over the years including Friday nights in Smith Center during their 79-game win streak in the latter half of the 2000s, the early 2000s with the towering Pruitt brothers of Beloit taking on rival Belleville in a noisy, cramped gymnasium, a football sub-state come from behind victory with Wichita Heights surging back from a 31-3 halftime deficit to take the game 37-34 over Dodge City.
The great matchups Olson got to call are too numerous to list, but Travis reflected particularly on the Dodge City vs. Heights game.
“It is these types of games that kept my dad in it for so long,” Travis said. “At the end, in the locker room, dad told us, ‘Boys, that may be the best football game I have ever worked!’”
As Olson enters retirement from officiating he’ll continue running the family farm and being a dedicated grandpa.
“I don’t think he really wanted to retire, but he really wants to watch his grandkids play sports,” Travis said.
But Travis is quick to note his father’s modesty.
“My dad is not one to do this for the awards or recognition,” Travis said. “I would love for him to garner some of them, but he is the last person to seek those out or want the recognition. Remember, if you go to a game and don’t remember the officials or anything they did; that’s a well officiated game.”
But after 52 years, it’s time an official like Olson receives some well-deserved recognition.
Over the past 10 years, Otis resident Everett Royer has photographed more central and western Kansas sports action than just about anyone in the state.
The Fort Hays State alum began his sports photography career as a kind of “side hustle” in 2009 alongside Mitch Weber, who at the time was the head photographer with FHSU sports. Since then he has been a regular on the sidelines of high school and college games throughout Kansas, camera-in-hand.
Royer has covered virtually ever sport offered in his area and the shots from these events can be found on his website, KSportsImages.com.
Kansas Pregame publisher John Baetz said the quality of Everett’s photos are just one important piece of what Royer brings to the table.
“Everett always hustles to get what I need as quick as possible, and, he does a great job of organizing and naming photos, which is absolutely essential for us at Kansas Pregame because we put out dozens of pages in each magazine and scrambling to find details about the photos we use takes time that we just don’t have,” Baetz said. “For someone who started shooting high school sports as a side gig a little over 10 years ago, Everett is the consummate professional and combines outstanding photo quality with outstanding service to his clients.”
A duo that anyone well-read on Kansas sports will be familiar with is Royer, and long-time sportswriter Conor Nicholl, who have worked for multiple outlets since 2014.
“We all have things that we enjoy doing in life,” Nicholl said. “However, those things have more enjoyment when we do them with friends. I love covering high school sports. For me, coverage has more enjoyment when I get to do it with my great friend Everett Royer. We have spent hundreds of hours on the road to games talking about sports and life. We take great pride that we have an opportunity to cover Kansas athletes.”
But Nicholl says it’s more than just photos for Royer.
“He is highly knowledgeable about teams, players, rankings and past matchups, and that always shows in his photos,” Nicholl said.
About Nex-Tech Wireless
Nex-Tech Wireless, owned by Nex-Tech Inc./Rural Telephone, Golden Belt Telephone and Tri-County Telephone is a premiere wireless provider offering high-tech wireless solutions to residents in over 40 counties of central and western Kansas as well as local coverage to 4 counties in Colorado. Nex-Tech Wireless focuses on providing its customers cutting edge technology including data and mobile services, as well as the latest wireless equipment and competitive wireless plans that provide nationwide coverage. For more information, visit