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CoreFirst Bank & Trust Athlete of the Year Award


Athlete of the Year nominations can be made by any person attending or participating in the Sunflower State Games. The nominee must be an athlete participating in the current edition of the Games. The winners, one male and one female will be announced in August. Potential recipients for this award must show outstanding achievement and good sportsmanship both on and off the field of play by embodying what the Sunflower State Games represent, living a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports.


2020 CoreFirst Bank & Trust Female Athlete of the Year

Sandy and Susan Stephens: Lawrence and Leavenworth, KS - Twins Age 70

Adventure Race


Sandy Stephens Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2020 Adventure Race: 1st Place
  • Medals in Orientering and Pickleball
  • National Senior Games Association: 2nd Place with sister Susy
  • World Senior Games in Utah: Medaled

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

The Sunflower State Games are a good motivator to stay active and consequently more healthy.

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

My favorite part of competing in the Sunflower State Games are the people I have met either volunteering or competing in the Games are the best!

Tell Us About Yourself

  • Education: Masters in Education
  • Career: Educator, Coached Volleyball, Softball and Track, Athletic Director, Co-owner (with my twin sister) of a Successful Embroidery Business.
  • Hobbies: Photography, Biking, Pickleball, Geocaching, and Camping.
  • Family: I have 5 wonderful nieces and nephews and 9 awesome great nieces and nephews.
  • Community Involvement: My twin sister and I have photographed the Adventure Race several years prior to participating in it this year.
  • Inspirational Stories: I am proud to see many of my former students and athletes become successful leaders and educators.

Susan Stephens Sunflower State Games Sports and Acccomplishments:

  • 2020 Adventure Race: 1st Place
  • Medals in Orienteering and Pickleball

Tell Us About Yourself

  • Education: Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Eduation and Masters of Science in Special Education
  • Career: 1971-1977 taught pysical education in Cuba, Missouri.  1997-1999 taught special education and mathematics in Hickman-MIlls C-1.  1998-2008 Ran a successful embroidery business with my sister, Sandy, Veteran of Desert Storm.
  • Hobbies: Biking, hiking, photography (milky way photography is a favorite), orienteering, RV travel and camping.
  • Family: Fantastic nieces and nephews!  Great way to have kids in your life!
  • Community Involvement: Help with the Fort Leavenworth Outdoor Adventures program that brings orienteering and adventure races to primarily the US military, many of those attending the Command General Staff College.  Help area adventure race directors by taking photos at their events.  Volunteered at the World Adventure Race Championship.  Made many Covid-19 makss for the homeless veterans.
  • Inspirational Stores: One of my very proud moments of adventure racing during the Sunflower State Games almost ten years ago.  Heat was taking it's toll on me mentally, so I had handed the navigation over to my niece in her first ever adventure race.  She assumed the role without a hitch guiding us into the bike.

2020 CoreFirst Bank & Trust Male Athlete of the Year

Gene Wee: Lawrence, KS - Age 72



Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2020 Orienteering: 1st Place
  • 2014 Cross Country: 3rd Place
  • 2009 Governor's Cup Road Race: 1st Place
  • Medals in Cycling as well as other numerous medals in Orienteering, Cross Country and Road Race.

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

The concept of State Games encourages Kansans to participate in a variety of sports each summer.  While most sports have their own leagues and championships, the Sunflower State Games provides the opportunity for anyone to participate and just for the elites in each sport.  Since so many sports are offered over a two or three week period, you may sign up for your sport but might just try a new sport just because the State Games offers it.  I participate to support the volunteers who devote their time to provide the chance to compete.  And you have a chance to make friends with athletes and volunteers from around the state and Midwest.  I was able to photograph the orienteering events several years and got to know the SSG official photographer, Dewayne Christensen.

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

The chance to see friends and meet new people trying my sport make for a fun day of competition.  I have to say I've enjoyed working with Mitch Gross and Cassie Criger who do an incredible job coordinating the vast number of sports.

Why is SSG important to Kansas Athletes?

The mission of the Sunflower State Games: "To provide Kansas citizens with a wholesome avenue for personal development through sports and physical activity, to recongnize their dedication and achievement, and to provide an opportunity to participate in an Olympic-style event."

Accomplishments outside of SSG?

Particpated in track and field in high school and one year in college (tripe jump).  Got a chance to better know the people in Bordeaux, France, when I played basketball for the Bordeaux Student Club.  Served as the district rep (Kansas) for the Amateur Biycle League of America, then an officla for the U.S. Cycling Federation in the 70s.  Active in the Mt Oread Bicycle Club and served as the newsletter editor (in the 70s).  After bike racing, discovered the sport of orienteering from taking cartography courses.  Helped to organize Orienteer Kansas (1977), being a club leader, surveyed and made maps, competed around the country and Canada, served on the US Orienteering Federation board of director and as editor of Orienteering USA.  When the runLawrence was organized, I learned how to make a web page and became the editor, then got back to doing photography since there was a need for photos.  At work at teh Kansas Union, I helped computerize the room reservation system from the big book manual system.  I put my orienteering cartography training into making the setup floor plans for each room in the three Union buildings.

Tell Us About Yourself:

  • Education: BA and MBA from University of Kansas
  • Career: Kansas Memorial Union, 1969-2014, last job as Event Services Reservations Coordinator
  • Hobbies; road cycling, at one time bike racing (road, cyclo cross), road running, trail running, orienteering, cross country skiing and in the past downhill skiin, photography, editor for several web pages.
  • Family: wife: Dee Boeck and one son: Damon Mar
  • Community Involvement: Co-race director with Dee for the runLawrence Thanksgiving Day 5k the last 16 years; web editor for runLawrence, and Kansas Road Race Records, USATF course measurer, treasurer for Orienteer Kansas and contributor web page; occasionally volunteer as course marshal for the Tour of Lawrence bicycle races.
  • Inspirational Stores: Dee and I did bicycle trip from Lawrence to Montreal in 1978, then compete in the 6 days of orienteering in Quebec and Ontario.  We met as bicyclists and married in 1976 and thought it would be fun to do a cross country bike ride.

Past Female Athletes of the Year

2019 - Kylie Hayes
2018 - Mckinsey West, Emporia
2017 - Kjrsten Abel Ruch, Lawrence
2016 - Kailey Ward, Topeka
2015 - Connie Carpenter, Leavenworth
2014 - Maria Seematter, Marysville
2013 - Gavyn Yetter, Topeka
2012 - Diane Werner, Topeka
2011 - Bailey Atkinson, Topeka
2010 - Nikki Barrett, Waverly
2009 - Laurie Koehn, Hesston
2008 - Joyce Baker, Topeka
2007 - Alice Lackey, Seneca
2006 - Susan Miller, Topeka
2005 - Gay Bauersfeld, Topeka
2004 - Joanie Starks, Lawrence
2003 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
2002 - Melissa Titel, Iola
2001 - Lindsey Carter, Parsons
2000 - Jana Sandall, Goddard
1999 - Emily Bloss, Emporia
1998 - Pam Miller, Valley Falls
1997 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
1996 - Terra Upham, Chapman
1995 - Keely Malone, Lawrence
1994 - Lavina Haefele, Lawrence

Past Male Athletes of the Year

2019 - Brett Schwartz
2018 - Chad Lorenz, Beloit
2017 - Chuck Remboldt, Perry
2016 - TJ Wade, Eskridge
2015 - Kyle Lewis, Topeka
2014 - Jacob Bull, Berryton
2013 - Erich Singer, Topeka
2012 - Michael Rose, Topeka
2011 - Travis Conley, Mission
2010 - Justin Garrard, Ottawa
2009 - Cory Kowitz, South Hutchinson
2008 - Matt Brungardt, Topeka
2007 - Kory Cool - Manhattan
2006 - Ian Grover, Topeka
2005 - Larry Law, Auburn
2004 - Maure Weigel, Salina
2003 - Bill Bunten, Topeka
2002 - Bob Lida, Wichita
2001 - Dean Sheets, Linwood
2000 - David Johnston, Lawrence
1999 - Nathaneal Wheatley, Cherryvale
1998 - Tim Schumacher, Hays
1997 - Dick Wilson, Lawrence
1996 - Kelly Green, Mayetta
1995 - Jim Ratzlaff, Winfield
1994 - Jack Haefele, Lawrence

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