“Every day was a joy. The ride we were on.”
That is how Gene Stephenson remembers his time coaching Shocker baseball or maybe it can just be summed up with just one word.
“Passion,” an emotional Stephenson said. This is the ending he deserved: inducted into Wichita State’s Hall of Fame this weekend and then heralded at half court of the Shocker basketball game Saturday, Stephenson became enshrined as a legend.
“It is a great joy,” Stephenson said, and those are pretty humble words for a man that led the Shockers to more than 1,800 wins and a national championship over the course of 36 years. Maybe you would expect someone to talk about their accomplishments on a day like this, but Stephenson decided to tell players, former and current, that all you have is today.
“Tomorrow is a mystery, expect like I said for the grace of God you don’t even know if you have it,” Stephenson said.
He was axed by the team in 2013, but now he is back and forever a part of the organization, and don’t think for one second he doesn’t still live as a proud Shocker every day.
“When I come up over that hill by Oliver,” Stephenson said, “and I am down, anytime if I am down, and I looked up over that hill and I saw that stadium that has been there since 2015, I just went WOOO!”
A family on the diamind and a family off of it: that will always be his message to every man who suits up as a Shocker.
“We only simply ask that you be the best son you can be.”