LINDSBORG, Kan. (BethanySwedes.com) – On Sunday, October 15, 2023, eight Bethany legends were inducted into 2023 Athletics Hall of Honor.
To even be nominated for such an honor, an individual must have had a noteworthy and exemplary career during their time at Bethany College. The individuals selected were former student-athletes or letter winners. For student-athletes, the last year of participation in athletics have been at least eight years before selection into the Hall of Honor. Selection for membership was determined by the quality and caliber of athletic performance and by the individual’s contribution to the team concept of athletic endeavor through leadership, as cited by the coaches and teammates involved.
The first former athlete to be recognized was Idris Ibn Idris.
Idris Ibn Idris attended Bethany College from 2012-2015, after transferring from University of California-Riverside. His athletic honors while a student-athlete in Lindsborg include: three-time KCAC Player of the Week, NAIA National Player of the Week, 1st Team All-KCAC, 2nd Team NAIA All-American, All-Tournament Team at the Bahama House Classic, broke eight individual Bethany College records, and played in the inaugural NAIA All-Star Game in Kansas City.
The on-court success for Idris continues to this day, as he has been playing for the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional since his graduation in 2015. Additionally, he has represented his country of Mexico as a member of the Mexican National Basketball Team. Idris has shared his love and passion for the game of basketball with local youth, through his participation in the ‘Be Utmost’ nonprofit organization.
Idris had this to share about his time at Bethany: “What I remember most about my experience at Bethany is the friendships and relationships I made along the way. The teachers and coaches that pushed me every day to be better, and my teammates who became like my second family while being so far from home. The atmosphere of our packed games and having students from all sports be there in support of us. I remember my time at Bethany being a time that helped me mature both as a basketball player and as a young man. The lessons I learned during my years there have helped shape me and figure out the kind of man I wanted to be.”
Next to be inducted into the Hall of Honor was Keir Swisher, Class of 2002.
Keir Swisher graduated from Bethany College in 2002, after attending Cloud County Community College for two years. A decorated two-sport athlete in football and men’s basketball, Swisher’s Bethany athletic accomplishments include: football team captain in 2000 and 2001, Honorable Mention All-Conference in 2000, 1st Team All-Conference in 2001, Academic All-American in 2001, played in the 1999 National Championship Playoff football game, and was a member of two KCAC Conference Championship football teams in 1999 and 2001. In his two seasons with the men’s basketball program, Swisher shared a KCAC Championship win and played in the NAIA National Tournament with his teammates in 1999.
When asked about his experience at Bethany, Swisher had this to say: “I won over a date with my now wife, Ashley, while at Bethany College over a friendly one-on-one pick-up basketball game where the tennis courts now sit. The road traveled with her has been an adventurous one through me going to medical school, her going to dental school, restoring a home, building a home, beginning our careers, starting a dental practice, a coffee cafe, a brew pub and who knows what will spark us next. The ultimate adventure of raising our boys, Madex (11) and Rowen (9), who can often be found joining in our wild hairs and soaking up the blessing of “to much is given, much is expected” life mentality. The irony of children, your flaws are right in front of you but there is still hope for them. They simply humble us. They challenge us. But the most awesome part is they unconditionally love us right back. Thanks boys. I am a third generation Swede and grew up near campus just one block north. I spent time as a ball boy for Coach Kessinger while in grade school. I am the only Bethany College Athlete to compete in the National Championship Playoffs in football and the National Championship basketball tournament in the same calendar year. I would have loved to add golf to that lineup, but I didn’t find that passion until later in life… and it’s still trying to find me.”
Swisher, or as many know him, Dr. Swisher, currently practices Emergency Medicine with passion at Stormont Vail Flint Hills Campus. In his 14 years in emergency medicine, he has held many leadership roles, including: Co-Medical Director of the Salina Regional Health Center Emergency Department, member of the Board of Directors of Salina Regional Health Center, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Board. Swisher also served as the Chief of Medical Staff at Salina Regional Health Center and many other committees. Currently, he is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Salina. In 2022, Swisher was named the Cloud County Community College Alumnus of the Year. He is a member of Salemsborg Lutheran Church, and he and his wife are Middle School Youth Group Sponsors.
The third person to be inducted was Leland Nelson, Class of 1979.
Leland Nelson attended Bethany College from 1974-1979. He was a member of the Swedes track & field program for four years. Boasting a perfect conference record, Nelson ended his athletic career at Bethany College with four conference championships in the shot put. In his freshman campaign, he broke the school and conference records in the shot put, a feat he would continue to do in each of the following three seasons. His senior year, he added a conference gold medal, conference record, and school record in the hammer throw. In 1976, Nelson was named All-American in the shot put after finishing fifth in the national championships. His best shot-put mark of 55 feet and 2 inches still stands as Bethany’s school record today.
After the conclusion of his career as a student-athlete, Nelson stayed around Lindborg to help Coach Jim Krob with coaching the throwers. He then went on to play competitive softball and was an All-American for the Amateur Softball Association of America Super Nationals in 1989. Nelson was inducted into the same organization’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Today, he continues to work on his farm, which he has done for his whole life.
Our final Hall of Honor inductee was Janice Fiene, Class of 2001.
Janice Fiene attended Bethany College from 1997-2001. She was a seven-time letter winner for the Swedes; four in softball and three in women’s basketball. Fiene’s softball accolades include: 1st Team All-Conference in 2000 and 2001, voted Team MVP by her teammates in 2001, and a member of the 2000 KCAC Championship team while playing catcher. In basketball, she was a member of the 2000 KCAC Championship team and played in the NAIA DII National Tournament Sweet 16 for the Swedes, who had a season record of 28-5. In 1998, Fiene finished third in the Great Bahamas Goombay Shootout Tournament.
After graduating in 2001, Fiene quickly returned to her alma mater and served as Head Softball Coach from 2002-2015, as well as Assistant Athletic Director from 2007-2015. She was named the Bethany College Athletics Alumni Coach of the Year in 2013. After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Fiene took her coaching talents to the NCAA Division II institution Newman University, where she was the Head Softball Coach until 2019.
Currently, Fiene resides in Dodge City, Kan., where she is a special education teacher for grades K-5. She currently holds two coaching positions in Dodge City with Dodge City High School and Dodge City Community College.
This year, Bethany had two coaches receive Alumni Coach of the Year. Our first recipient was Tim Lambert, Class of 1991.
Coach Lambert had an illustrious two years as a student-athlete at Bethany College in the sports of football and track & field. In track, he was All-KCAC in 1990 and 1991, and was the Bethany College Track & Field Newcomer of the Year in 1990. Lambert’s football accomplishments include being named Honorable Mention All-Conference wide receiver in 1989, 2nd Team All-Conference wide receiver in 1990, 1st Team All-Conference punt returner in 1990, NAIA Football Scholar Athlete in 1990, and was named Bethany College Male Athlete of the Year for the 1990-91 school year. In 1991, Lambert graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a two-time Dean’s Honor Roll member.
He has been an educator and coach for the past 32 years, 31 of those as a Head Football Coach. Coach Lambert spent 16 years at St. Francis, six years at Concordia, and the past eight years at Smoky Valley High School. He has complied impressive statistics for any coaching standard. Those include 209 career wins, 26 playoff wins, named the Hays Daily Football Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2000, and coached in two Shrine Bowl games in 2000 and 2018. He also has 27 years of track & field coaching experience.
Coach Lambert and his wife Roxie Lambert (Sander) have six children and two grandchildren. Lambert is currently a teacher and coach at Smoky Valley Schools and is an Elder at Faith Bible Church in Salina.
Our second Alumni Coach of the Year recipient was Josh Gooch, Class of 2008.
Coach Gooch attended Bethany College from 2003-2008. A member of the men’s Basketball program, Gooch was named team captain in his senior season, where the team finished second in the KCAC regular season standings. In fall of 2007, Gooch student taught at Salina Central High School and was offered a teaching position there in the fall of 2008. There, Gooch began his coaching career which would include guiding athletes in the sports of girls’ basketball, cross country, and track & field.
In 2012, Coach Gooch led the Lady Mustangs to their first state appearance in basketball since 1985. The Lady Mustangs returned to the state tournament in 2014 where they finished second in the 5A championships. He also coached at the state cross country meet two years in a row in 2013 and 2014.
Gooch currently coaches boys basketball at Greely County High School, where he has spent the past several years.
Gooch’s coaching accolades also include: 2018-19 Sub-State Runner-Up, 2019-20 NWKL Tournament Champions, 2019-20 Regional Champions, 2019-20 Sub-State Runner-Up, 2020-21 Sub-State Runner-Up, 2021-222 NWKL Tournament Champions (Runner-Up to Ness City, non-league school), 2021-22 Sub-State Champions, 2021-222 1A DII State Champions, 2021-22 1A DII Coach of the Year, 2022-23 NWKL Tournament Champions, 2022-23 NWKL Regular Season Champions, 2022-23 Sub-State Champions, 2022-23 1A DII State Champions, and 2022-23 1A DII Coach of the Year.
Currently, Josh and his wife, Courtney, reside in his hometown of Tribune, Kan. with their three children. He is currently working in the family business; a grocery store they have owned and operated since 1948.
This year, Bethany chose to induct two recipients of Bethany Athletic Association Award of Merit. First to be inducted for the 2023 class was Shannon Everhart, Class of 1974.
Shannon Everhart was very active in multiple clubs and organizations in his time at Bethany College. His involvements included the German Club, Blue Key, B Club, and Gamma Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He was a member of the 1970, 1971, 1973, and 1974 KCAC Tennis Championship teams. He and doubles partner Mike Young played in the District 10 doubles championship in 1973.
Everhart was a long-standing member of the Football Chain Gang, himself a staple on the sideline for the Swedes for many years. The Chain Gang still operates today as a community volunteer group to run the chains for Bethany home football games.
Everhart has been married to his wife Joy (Daniels) for 49 years. They have two children and four grandchildren. After graduation, Shannon went to work for Stress-Cast, Inc., and worked there until his retirement in 2016. Everhart regrets he is unable to attend the events today to share with you the many great memories and friends from his days past at Bethany College.
Our second recipient of Bethany Athletic Association Award of Merit was Warren Johnson, Class of 1977.
Warren Johnson was a two-sport athlete while at Bethany College, competing in football and baseball during this time as a Swede.
After graduation, Johnson’s dedication to Bethany College and Swedes Athletics did not stop. He served on the Football Chain Gang from 2001-2022.
Upon retiring from the Chain Gang, Warren was replaced by his son Tyler, a 2005 graduate of Bethany College.
It is inspiring to read the stories and hear about the success of our cherished alumni. A huge congratulations to all of our inductees!