By: D. Scott Fritchen

In the end, Jordy Nelson won the game. The Riley, Kansas native and former Kansas State and NFL star ran a three-run homer from the Brandeberry infield behind the right center wall, and Nelson’s team won 29-27 in an extra inning affair during the second annual Jordy Nelson Legends Classic Softball Game Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.


The softball classic raised money for numerous causes and featured an all-star cast.


They traveled from California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma to participate in this special K-State weekend and fundraising day.


Seven players from the list are in the Ring of Honor – David Allen, Michael Bishop, Arthur Brown, Jaime Mendez, Nelson, Terence Newman and Mark Simoneau. Shalee Lehning’s women’s basketball jersey number hangs in the rafters of the Bramlage Coliseum. Robert Streb has won two PGA Tour events. Blair DeBord was a first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver as part of the 2013 Big 12 Championship team. The list goes on and on.


They came together for a good cause. A portion of the money raised went to the Ahearn Fund to fund a K-State football scholarship for junior linebacker Austin Moore.


“Congratulations to you, Austin,” Nelson said. “I’m proud that you are carrying on the tradition.”


“It means a lot to play Division I football,” Moore told Nelson. “When you finally get to do it, it’s a great experience.”


Moore didn’t arrive in Manhattan with hype. He didn’t have many recruiting stars next to his name. In fact, it had no stars. Its story began in the town of Louisburg in northeastern Kansas, which has a population of about 5,000. He was an all-state running back and an all-league linebacker. As a senior, he helped the Louisburg Wildcats to an 11-2 record and a berth in the 2018 playoffs.


K-State offered Moore a chance to step on it. Moore was quick to oblige. Although Moore admits he spent his younger years as a KU fan — his mother is a KU alum — Moore’s allegiance slowly shifted to purple and white, and he had long been a fan of the K-State tradition.


“I knew it was a group of guys who were hard workers and maybe not the most recruited people,” Moore says, “but they came to work every day and proved themselves on the field.”

 

Some of them have even become legends.

“It’s just a fun time to get a group of guys together and have fans come in and see former players without helmets and in a different atmosphere,” Nelson said. “I know players like to get a bunch of guys together who haven’t seen each other in a while. It’s a great and fun way to raise money for some local organizations here in town that our foundation will be donating after the le game is over.

“Obviously with my story here at K-State and the way I’ve walked here as well as Jon McGraw, I give him all the credit in the world because if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t Probably wouldn’t have He graduated and walked here and I followed his path It’s a different journey to take, it’s a journey that K-State has had a great tradition with throughout the time of l Coach Snyder here and now Coach Klieman is chasing him.. It’s a good thing to give back to college too and honor those guys who took the long way and bet on themselves and got out of the other side.

McGraw was a second-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, who ended his career as special teams captain of the Kansas City Chiefs. McGraw, also a native of Riley, Kansas, has brought increased attention to the K-State lore during his successful career.

“There were guys in Riley County, guys in the community and a great walking tradition at K-State that created the dream for me,” McGraw said. “If you don’t have the dream, it’s not going to start. I had other people who came before me who helped me believe it was possible. Then knowing that I could maybe “To maybe go further and maybe pave the way for those behind me, that was a really meaningful part of my career, to look back and see people like Jordy say it helped him.”

Now, McGraw has returned to Manhattan to help lend a hand to Nelson and his charitable causes.

“I love Jordy and Emily and the family so if they ask for anything I will do anything to help them,” McGraw said. “It’s a good cause and we have quite a few former extras here who have been able to continue supporting other future extras, it’s really good. It’s a great way to give back to the Manhattan community and to the K-State family, who adopted me at an early age, even before I came to K-State. It’s a very meaningful community to be a part of. Coming back and seeing familiar faces and reconnecting is a really special feeling .

The peculiarity floated throughout the stadium.

“Jordy, his name speaks for itself, with all the great things Jordy did when he was here, away from the game, in the NFL, and doing it here,” Bishop said. “It’s a great opportunity for guys like me to come back and see people and see other former players. It’s always a great environment. Everyone who comes back here has had an incredible impact on K football. -State and the K-State nation.Whenever you get the chance to be around people like that, it brightens your day.

“It’s a special group, and it’s a special day. It’s absolutely amazing.”

It certainly sounded amazing to Lehning, a native of Sublette, Kansas, who arrived at K-State in 2005 and ended her career in 2009 as the only player in Big 12 history to reach 1,000 points, 800 rebounds. and 700 assists.

“It’s an honor to be part of this day,” Lehning said. “I was just telling someone earlier that it was super fun to play alongside some of the K-State greats. A lot of those football players are guys I looked up to when I was a lot younger. It’s good to be home. K-State has always been fun for me. You never really miss a beat.

Jordy Softball

“The K-Staters are part of the family. I love them. I have felt nothing but support and truly encouraged not only in my career but also in life. I am grateful to be part of the K-State family. “

That goes for DeBord, who won the Home Run Derby by hitting 19 out-of-the-park home runs. DeBord, a Manhattan native, was not heavily recruited and stayed home to play baseball at K-State. He became a first-team All-Big 12 performer.

“It’s pretty cool,” said DeBord, who is now assistant athletic director at Memphis. “I was already coming back for the 10e anniversary of our Big 12 championship this weekend, and I got a call from a 785 number and the voicemail said, “Hey, it’s Jordy Nelson.” As a K-State guy, that was pretty cool. Growing up in Manhattan, we have several generations of K-Staters in my family. For me, K-State is really a family. It was quite special to play here. It just meant a little more to me.”

Jordy Softball

That also goes for Newman, a Salina native, who wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, but found a home in K-State. Although Newman had not been in Manhattan for several years, it felt like home.

“It’s such a great feeling to be back and to see so many different faces that I haven’t seen in the years and to see a lot of things that a lot of people from before and after my time have put in place with all the new developments around the athletic facilities and on campus,” Newman said. “It’s great to be able to come back to see our alma mater and also be able to contribute and give back to charities and organizations. of Manhattan. It matters, especially when you can be as lucky as many of us. , to be able to give back and help wherever you can, and a lot of guys have come from a lot of different places to do that. It’s amazing that we’re all on the same page that we want to do our part.”

Memories were thick as Newman watched Bill Snyder Family stage.

“That’s where a lot of guys come as boys and grow up to be men,” he said. “A lot of our careers started here. It’s amazing to be back and get a chance to talk with some of the guys I’ve idolized or looked up to who have spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears here.”

Jordy Softball

Sunday was for fun.

“It’s a blast for me,” Nelson said. “A lot of these guys, I grew up watching living here locally and having subscriptions as a kid so I grew up watching these guys play. It’s great to have them all together and sharing stories.”

And there will be more stories and memories to come as the softball classic continues to take off.

Nelson’s challenge? For even greater attendance at next year’s Softball Classic.

“These guys come a long way and we love doing it,” Nelson said. “Hopefully we keep adding people to the stands and they have a great time. Enjoy it, spread the word and we’ll keep doing it.”