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McPherson College Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

posted Oct 02, 2009 in ALUMNI

Each year, McPherson College recognizes former student-athletes that have upheld the highest ideals of the College through their performance on the field of competition and in the classroom as students, and who have continued to excel in life, as well as coaches who have inspired athletes in competition and in life.


This year’s inductees to the McPherson College Athletic Hall of Fame are: Jack Vetter, Ishmael Kimbrough, Janis Cordell Mertes and Gerald Holman.

Janis Cordell Mertes ‘78
Janis “Sam” Cordell was a letter winner in every varsity sport available to women during her undergraduate career at McPherson College, lettering in volleyball, tennis, basketball, and track and field. Janis was part of two KCAC tennis championships (1976, 1977), one KCAC basketball championship (1975), and one KCAC track and field team championship (1977). One of her greatest accomplishments as a Bulldog was in 1978 when she was selected McPherson College “Female Athlete of the Year.”

Mertes’ success began her freshman season when she finished second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game on the 1975 KCAC Champion women’s basketball team. That same year she took second in the javelin at the Tabor College Blue Jay Invite and third at the Wichita State University Relays, prior to the women’s track team winning the ACCK championship.

An All-KCAC basketball selection in 1977 and 1978, Cordell averaged 15 points per game during each of those two seasons.

Along with basketball, Mertes was successful on the tennis court. Her most successful season came in 1977, as she finished second in the KCAC meet in doubles and third in singles to help the Bulldogs win their second KCAC title in as many years.

Not only successful on the playing field, Janis graduated magna cum laude from McPherson College in 1978 with a bachelor of arts in physical education. After graduation, she accepted a job with the Neodesha School District as a physical education teacher and coach. After spending two years at Neodesha, she moved onto the Maize School District where she has spent the last 26 years as a coach and physical education teacher.

Community involvement has always been important to Janis, devoting her time to coaching, organizing events and serving the greater good of the Colwich community. From 2006 to 2008 she helped deliver hot meals to needy homes and every winter helps to organize meals for the homeless.

Mertes currently resides in Colwich, Kan., with her husband, Mark.

Jack Vetter ’42
Jack Vetter lettered four years in both football and track and field at McPherson College. Vetter came to McPherson as a 190 pound freshman out of Kansas City, Mo., and would go on to earn first team All-Kansas Conference honors in 1940 and 1941, along with being named a member of the 1941 Kansas All-Star Team.

Vetter found himself sidelined for a majority of his sophomore year with a back injury, but came back strong in his junior campaign. He was a punter and fullback for the Bulldogs and as a running back was named first team All-Kansas Conference. The highlight of the year was handing Ottawa University their first conference loss in three years. In the 6-0 McPherson win, Vetter tossed a 14-yard game winning touchdown pass to Dick Callen. The pass turned out to be the only touchdown pass thrown by the Bulldogs in the 1940 season.

Despite seeing limited playing time late in his senior season due to a leg injury, Jack earned first team All-Kansas Conference honors for the second straight year. Vetter found himself involved in another big moment in McPherson College football history as he scored McPherson’s winning touchdown in the Bulldogs 7-0 Homecoming victory over the College of Emporia.

Vetter’s success as a football player was starting to become recognized across the state of Kansas as he was named to the Kansas all-star team for the USO benefit game to be played at Fort Riley against Army. After the USO game, Vetter received offers from the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Vetter eventually decided on the Brooklyn Dodgers, but not before finishing his degree at McPherson College and competing in track and field for one more season. Vetter lettered in track and placed third in the Kansas Conference Championships in the discus.

Vetter’s signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers made him the first McPherson College athlete to sign and play for a professional team. After playing one season with the Dodgers, Jack enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942. Vetter earned the rank of captain and was a recipient of the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in World War II and the Korean Conflict.

Jack has been active in his church, serving as the church chair and a deacon for many years. Jack is the father of three children; Jack (deceased), Chuck and Marcia. He and his wife Charlotte currently reside in McPherson, Kan.

Gerald Holman
Gerald (Jerry) Holman coached the McPherson College men’s tennis team for 12 seasons, from 1972 to 1983, compiling an overall record of 80 wins and 71 losses. He led his squads to eight winning seasons and twice won the ACCK championship.

Jerry’s coaching career took off in 1975 when he coached Mark Melhorn to his first KCAC singles championship, and Melhorn and Steve Burkholder to a KCAC double championship. Under the direction of Holman, the tennis team at McPherson College would see continued success, producing nine KCAC individual champions (7 singles champions, 2 doubles champions).

In his career, Holman produced nine individual conference champions, three District #10 champions, and three NAIA National Tournament qualifiers. Holman received the first KCAC “Coach of the Year” award for men’s tennis in 1978, the year his team finished 11-4 and second at the KCAC meet.

Holman has always been active in the community, serving as a fund raising consultant for local churches and various small colleges, organizing local tennis tournaments and providing tennis instruction for people of all ages.

A member of the McPherson Church of the Brethren, Jerry has served as a deacon and bible study leader. He has served McPherson College as the director of development along with being the head tennis coach. He is the father of Craig Holman, class of 1999 McPherson College Hall of Fame inductee, and Sheree Holman Bowman.

Jerry and his wife Eloise are both currently retired and reside in McPherson, Kan.

Ishmael Kimbrough, III ‘02
Ishmael Kimbrough was a four-year letter winner in track and field, and a two-year letter winner in football at McPherson College. Still the McPherson College record holder in the long jump at 24’2 1/4”, he was a five-time KCAC individual champion and a three-time NAIA National meet qualifier.

Kimbrough’s successes as a Bulldog began during his sophomore season when he broke the McPherson College long jump record and tied the KCAC record with an NAIA national meet qualifying 24’2 1/4” long jump. That year he also won an individual championship in the triple jump at 47’0”. Ishmael’s record stood as the KCAC conference record for 19 years before being broken in 2009.

Over the next two seasons, he won the KCAC twice in the long jump and once in the triple jump, qualifying for the NAIA national meet each time.

Kimbrough graduated from McPherson College in 1993 with a bachelor of art in history. He later earned a master of arts in American history from Emporia State University. Over the past 10 years, Ishmael has served as a professor of history at Bakersfield College, Bakersfield, Calif.

Always working towards helping others, Ishmael has been organizing and conducting a forum between law enforcement agencies and the local community. The purpose of the round-table is to bridge the divide that keeps members of the community and police officers from working together to reduce crime. He is also an active member of Terrio Kids, an agency that helps physically challenged children participate in athletics.

Ishmael is the father of three children; Carissa Brook Lyons-Kimbrough, Grant Kimbrough, and Whitney Cox. He currently resides in Bakersfield, Calif.


Named one of America’s best colleges by the U.S. News and World Report for two consecutive years, McPherson College offers its students amazing opportunities. Over 90 percent of MC seniors completed an internship experience during the 2008-09 academic year, as well as 50 percent of the entire student body. Students at MC have an exceptionally high graduate school acceptance rate. McPherson College offers the nation’s only four-year degree in automotive restoration, and has received national recognition for the program including support from enthusiasts such as “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. The city of McPherson has consistently been ranked in the top 40 of the “Best Small Towns in America.” McPherson College prides itself on providing a career-oriented, liberal arts experience to all students. For more information visit www.mcpherson.edu.


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