One of the things that makes Park unique is that it has never had an intercollegiate football program. It does, however, have something that distinguishes it - soccer. Every year as the leaves turn bright with color and the outdoor air becomes cooler, I remember afternoons in the bright sunshine, watching Park men in their canary and wine colored uniforms (Park now also has women's soccer) move across the field, back and forth, advancing a ball with feet and heads toward the opponent's goal defended by a goalie.
Under a photo of the 1961 Park soccer team, the 1961-62 Park Narva staff described the season this way:
"The 1961 soccer season proved to be one of the best in the history of Park College. Under the leadership of Coach Ara Zakaryan and Captain Mel Blades, the team was able to win five games, while losing only two and tying one. Outstanding players for Park were Paul Thackaberry, a senior, who led the scoring with a total of 10 goals, and John Clarke, a senior goalie, who had a total of 85 saves."
A year later the 1962-63 Narva stated: "The 1962 Park soccer team had one of its most successful seasons. Park had a 7 win, 2 loss record and was selected to represent Area 1 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Soccer Tournament at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. Park took third place in the tournament and positions on the All Tournament were awarded to Sinan Kunt and Desire Assa, with honorable mention to Bill Higginbotham. High scorer this year was senior Mel Blades who broke the school record by scoring 12 goals. Team captain was Hal Henderson, a junior, coaches were Ara Zakaryan and Ed Nelson, student manager was Joel Givertz an student trainer, Dave Bromberg."
In my diaries I wrote, on Saturday, October 28, 1961: "Park beat Emporia State this afternoon in a thrilling soccer game. Emporia had beat Tabor."
On Saturday, September 22, 1962: "This afternoon Flo, Barb and I went down to watch the Air Force Academy play Park in the first home soccer game of the season. It was a good game, but we lost 5-2. Four years ago they beat Park 4-1."
Friday, November 16, 1962: "Park is playing in the national soccer tournament during Thanksgiving vacation."
Saturday, September 21, 1963: "We beat Tabor in our first soccer game of the season, our second defeat of our archrival and the first time in seven years we've beat them at home."
And on Saturday, October 5, 1963: "The delegation to the Park-Tabor soccer game in Hillsboro, Kansas, returned at 2:30 this morning. The game was thrilling, a 3-3 tie after three 5-minute overtimes." I, of course, had gone with the students who went by school bus to attend the game.
In 2016 soccer still reigns supreme at Park.
About the diary writer
- Barbara McDowell Whitt
- Kansas City, Missouri, Alexandria, Virginia, United States
- In the first half of the 1960s I wrote nightly entries on the pages of one-year diaries. A 1961-65 Park College Diary is a transcription of those entries. The first entry was on January 1, 1960 when I was a junior in high school. I grew up on three farms within 30 miles of Iowa City with the University of Iowa and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. As the oldest of four daughters, I sometimes referred to my sisters as "the kids" or "the girls." We helped our parents, but we also had good, wholesome fun - a characteristic I took with me to Park. Park College was 300 miles from West Chester, Iowa in Parkville, Missouri, on the Missouri River 10 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, and across the river from Kansas City, Kansas. In 2000 Park College became Park University. Today Park's flagship campus is in Parkville and there are an additional 41 campus centers across the nation. Park was one of the first educational institutions in the United States to offer online learning. Beginning August 10, 2015, 50 years after I wrote my last entry in a one-year diary, I've written Park related Blogger blog posts to keep A 1961-65 Park College Diary "current."