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Faith, Family and Basketball Brings Panhandle Players Together

By Annawynn Drury on 04/03/2017 Aggies Jake Regier and Payson Slater spend their summers coaching youth teams throughout the Panhandle area. The Honey Badgers have grown to a group of five teams for young boys and girls to expand their basketball skills.-Courtesy photosAggies Jake Regier and Payson Slater spend their summers coaching youth teams throughout the Panhandle area. The Honey Badgers have grown to a group of five teams for young boys and girls to expand their basketball skills.-Courtesy photos

Goodwell, Okla.—While most seniors anxiously await graduation day and see it as the starting point for getting out in the world and making a mark, some find their calling earlier in life. The later rings true for Jake Regier and a special group of basketball players.

Jake is a junior at Oklahoma Panhandle State University studying physical education with a minor in education. He grew up near Forgan, Okla., so he is no stranger to the Panhandle. Jake is very involved on and off campus. He is a shooting guard on the basketball team and he has been on the team for three years. "Some of my favorite memories from this year were the new teammates that I grew close to and playing with some of my best friends who are from the area."

On top of being a full time student-athlete, Jake recently got married to Monti (Sappenfield) Regier. She plays on the women's basketball team and these two are a dynamic duo for Aggie Athletics. "It has been an amazing experience to travel with her and play college basketball at the same time." Jake married into a family of athletes, "When I married Monti, I gained many nieces and nephews as she is the second youngest of eight kids. One of my nephews Jaedon Whitfield is on the basketball team with me, so I joke that we have the first uncle/nephew duo in college basketball. In addition to his athletic involvement, Jake is the youth director at Victory Memorial United Methodist Church in Guymon, Okla. "I work with some amazing youth every week." He also serves as the Vice President of the Association of Student Athletics at Panhandle State.

Jake looks forward to graduation next May in 2018. He plans to stay in the Panhandle area and give back to the community by coaching and teaching. "I love this area and I hope to give back to the kids what so many teachers and coaches gave to me." What is most amazing is he is not waiting until graduation to make a difference.

Currently, Jake and Payson Slater, another Aggie Basketball player and an active leader in his church in Hooker, Okla., started a basketball program in the summer called the Honey Badgers. The two athletes take the best players from the Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma area and take them to tournaments throughout the summer to compete at higher levels while getting exposure and playing time logged in the summer. The Honey Badgers adopted the philosophy of "Faith. Family. Basketball" and provide an excellent outlet for the panhandle youth in the summer months. Jake said, "The motto helps us as leaders and the kids remember to keep our priorities in the right order."

Monti Regier who is also very involved on and off the court helped create a girl's league of Honey Badgers that travel and compete during the summer. Together, Jake, Monti, Payson and another Aggie athlete Jace Kerr have expanded the program and coach in the summer months. "It has been a blessing to be around the best basketball players in the Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma every summer," Jake commented. In all, there are four boys' teams with players that come from all across the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma.

The work these students have put into the community has sparked such a powerful change, Jaedon Whitfield, Dee Alston, Chandler Bryer and Bowen Nyberg who are all on the Panhandle State Men's Basketball Team were part of the original Honey Badgers Team. This group of young men really illustrate the importance of teamwork on and off the court. Jake's high school friend, Jace Kerr, transferred to Panhandle State from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) so they all could play together this last year. Jace actively works with the Honey Badgers team and helped coach them the last two summers.

Erin Whitfield, Jaedon's mother and Monti's sister, has supported the Honey Badgers from the start. She celebrates with them, seeing a community's dream come true. "All of these boys have had a dream of playing together in college and building a program that all the local people can be proud of." It is amazing how the hard work of these young men and women brings a community together. Addison Munsch, another Aggie Women's Basketball star went to school with Jaedon at Boise City. The athletic community at Panhandle State pulls the small towns of the panhandle together to play as one, and create opportunity for the youth across the panhandle.

Dr. Tim Faltyn, Panhandle State's President, recognizes the work of these young men and women and accredits their success to the hard work and dedication each student athlete put in. "The thing I love about athletics is that it teaches young men and women how important it is to make good decisions. They learn that if they make good decisions in the dorms, classrooms, in who they hang out with, in their spending, in their relationships with teammates and others, that good things can happen…just like on the court. This story is proof that for students who have found their passion in life, it is a lot more about momentum than motivation. You can change the world when you get things moving in the right direction and make decisions to sustain the momentum you've built."

Jake, Payson and their growing group of Honey Badgers are great examples of the high quality students found at Panhandle State. They have created a momentum that is quickly moving in the right direction, and will leave an impact on the community for years to come.