This article, written by Scott Puryear,
appeared in the the Guymon Daily Herald on September
22, 2004, and is used here with permission.
Meet in the Panhandle
By Scott Puryear
Guymon Daily Herald
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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 .
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.
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).
at halftime, Wolf received a citizenship award that
was presented by Bryant on behalf of the Kiowa Nation.
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.
three of us are now bonded by Oklahoma Panhandle State ,
football . . . and friendship.