New public-private partnership to benefit Kansas student athletes

Sunflower Bank, Salina, Fort Hays State University's Kansas Youth Leadership Academy, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame announced at a news conference Feb. 1 a new partnership for Kansas high school student athletes.

Sunflower Bank committed to a $45,000 sponsorship of “Leadership On and Off the Field: Leadership Development for the Student Athlete,” a program created by KYLA and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. It is designed to instruct students on how to transfer their leadership skills from the sports arenas to the classroom and to other areas of life.

"As part of our commitment to the state of Kansas, we're proud to support the leadership development of student-athletes and help them grow into future leaders in our communities, large and small," said Mollie Carter, president and CEO of Sunflower Bank, at the news conference at Sunflower Bank's headquarters in Salina.

"State and public resources can only go so far," said Dr. Curt Brungardt, director of Fort Hays State University's Center for Civic Leadership, which houses KYLA. "We are honored that a private company has agreed to use its own resources to support our program."

The program consists of several conferences that include hands-on application and discussion centering on five basic themes: leadership concepts and skills; competition and sportsmanship; team dynamics; character development; and active citizenship.

"Sometimes young athletes are unaware that they're already demonstrating exemplary leadership skills," said Cathie Klein, director of KYLA. "Our goal is to help them transfer these skills from their given sports arenas to the other areas of their lives."

KYLA, created in 2001, is now a statewide program and is funded in part by the McDonald's restaurants of Kansas. Its mission is to encourage young Kansans to live safe and healthy lives with strong character and to be active community members who serve as life-long citizen leaders.

The first Leadership On and Off the Field conference is scheduled for March 27 and 28 at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame museum in Wichita.

Bill Snyder, former Kansas State University football coach, will serve as one of three conference speakers. Other speakers are Bob Anastas, founder and former executive
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director of Students Against Drunk Driving (now Students Against Destructive Decisions), and Will Baker, a business executive for Target Corporation and former baseball player for Mesa State College in Colorado. "The State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is very pleased to be a partner for KYLA's Leadership On and Off the Field program," said Ted Hayes, executive director of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

"We are especially grateful to Sunflower Bank for the leadership role they have taken in providing this generous sponsorship for a statewide program of this stature," he said. "The Hall of Fame mission, 'To honor, to educate, to inspire,' is widely presented for the benefit of the Kansas youth, and now, with Sunflower Bank's lead gift and the overall leadership of Dr. Brungardt and the KYLA staff, our mission has been provided the perfect venue for reaching out to more future Kansas leaders than ever before."

"We're excited to begin working with Sunflower Bank," said Brungardt. "Its staff has the expertise needed for this program and the entrepreneurial vision to know how to give back to its communities. Sunflower Bank truly is a Kansas company with a moral compass."

FHSU's Kansas Youth Leadership Academy can be contacted through Sarah Piper, public relations, at (620) 786-4986, or by e-mail to Contact with Sunflower Bank is John Hanley, (785) 827-5564, or by e-mail to

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