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Aggie and Lady Aggie Sports
Scott Puryear, Sports Information Director
Oklahoma Panhandle State University
P.O. Box 430, Goodwell, OK 73939
580-349-1340 scottp@opsu.edu

 

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(From left) Scott Puryear, Ty Sellers and Junior Wolf share in the celebration of last Saturday’s OPSU Homecoming football victory.  (Rusty Landrum Photo)


This article, written by Scott Puryear, appeared in the the Guymon Daily Herald on September 22, 2004, and is used here with permission.

Three Friends Meet in the Panhandle

2004-09-22
By Scott Puryear
Guymon Daily Herald

The late Carl McKinnon (a successful Guymon businessman and avid football fan) loved to speak of the many players he had seen at several schools over several decades. McKinnon and I were quite close and he told me that the toughest football player he had ever seen was Junior Wolf, who played at Oklahoma Panhandle State in the late 1950s.

I was able to track down Mr. Wolf in Oregon and we began an e-mail dialogue which continued over several months. With the help of OPSU President Dave Bryant, we arranged to have Wolf come to Goodwell and be a guest of honor at the school’s Homecoming. When he accepted the invitation, he also mentioned that he wanted to meet Aggie quarterback Ty Sellers, whom he had been following via Aggie Sports press releases on the Internet. Sellers, a junior, is in the process of challenging both the school’s all-time passing and rushing records.

Last Friday, when I first met Wolf, I stood as straight as possible, but at 6’2,” I still looked up at him slightly and though twenty years my senior, his grip was stronger than my own, and I was thrilled to shake his hand. If one wonders what a football All-American of half a century ago looks like today – they need to look no further than Junior Wolf. 

Wolf was a rugged 6’4” and 190-pound two way player at OPSU, earning All-America honors in 1958. To this very day, no player in any division of the NCAA has eclipsed his record of eight rushing touchdowns in a single game. One of the favorite stories told by old time Aggie fans concerns a game when Wolf had five teeth knocked out and continued to play until the contest was over, then went to the dentist.

Now living in retirement after a distinguished career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wolf returned to his alma mater for Homecoming last weekend, accompanied by his wife, Dona. At 220 pounds now, he’s still fit and we joked about getting him a uniform for the Aggie game on Saturday.

The Wolfs arrived in Goodwell Friday afternoon, and after their meeting with Bryant, it was my honor to be their guide as we toured the OPSU campus. Later we went to the Aggie practice field to watch the team as they prepared for the game with Wayne State University (on the following day). 

We stood on the sidelines for a few minutes during practice and one could see the word being spread about who I was standing with. Most OPSU players are familiar with Wolf because a photo from his playing days and his All-America certificate hang in a place of honor in the trophy case in the Aggie field house.

Sellers spotted Wolf, and after speaking with his coach, he ran over to meet the Aggie star of the 1950s. They shook hands, then embraced. “I’ve very much been looking forward to meeting you,” Wolf said. 

OPSU’s head football coach, Ryan Held , had been expecting us and invited Wolf to address the team. The big man spoke in a quiet but strong voice and many times motioned with his huge hands. 

He didn’t talk much about football, rather, he spoke of the challenges that people may face in their lives. He spoke of his own challenges in the 1940s and ‘50s growing up in the poverty surrounding many people of Native American ancestry (Wolf is Kiowa). The members of the Aggie team knelt around him and listened intently as he spoke further on friendship, courage, and the importance of getting an education. He also told them that he felt very fortunate to have received his own education at Oklahoma Panhandle State .

It was emotional and it was inspiring and as Wolf shook hands with the young men on the team, I was very proud to be the one who had escorted him to meet them. 

On Saturday, Wolf and another Aggie All-American, Jerry Linton (1963), served as Grand Marshals at the OPSU Homecoming Parade. Later, at halftime of the game that the Aggies won 44-34, both Linton and Wolf received football helmets signed by the entire OPSU team (now 3-1 on the season).

Also at halftime, Wolf received a citizenship award that was presented by Bryant on behalf of the Kiowa Nation.

After the game, amid players, parents, fans, and students on the field celebrating the Aggie victory, Wolf walked out near the team. Sellers jogged over to him. They posed for a couple of photos, then stood very close and only they could hear what was being said before they embraced, each with tears in their eyes. Most of the people nearby had tears in their eyes as well, including this writer. 

The three of us are now bonded by Oklahoma Panhandle State , football . . . and friendship.

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