The Doc I never met

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This weekend features the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo, otherwise known as the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo.

The annual event is one of the final events in the Central Plains Region; this season, it’s the final event, and the College National Finals Rodeo will be secured. There are several events where the fight for the final qualifications will come down to the final run in Saturday night’s championship round in Guymon, Okla.

Quite possibly the best part of this weekend’s festivities is honoring Dr. Lynn Gardner, the longtime rodeo coach at Panhandle State. I never got to meet the man, who many friends have called their mentor, a second father, the person most responsible for who they are today.

I’ve been blessed enough to write posthumously about Doc, and each time I do, I wish I’d spent time with him. For instance, I’veĀ  learned a little more about Dr. Garry Brower, the longtime coach at Fort Hays State University, and Dr. Don Mitchell, who retired a decade ago after serving in the same capacity at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

But I married a Panhandle State alumnae, so I get to hear stories from her and many others who knew Doc Gardner so well.

“The thing I loved most about him was that he treated everybody very equal and fair, and therefore he garnered a lot of respect from everybody,” my wife said. “He was amazing.”

“Amazing” seems to be a common word among those who describe Doc. That’s pretty spectacular.


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