This is the way it works.
Lester “Bear” Jensen is headed into another hall of fame. You may know him or you may not, but it’s notable because he grew up in Norman and lives in Norman now.
Eighty-seven years old and still married to Hazel going on 65 years, Jensen has lived quite a life, one charted by various enshrinements.
He’s in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame for coaching stops at Davis, Pauls Valley and Claremore. He’s in the East Central University Hall of Fame for his athletic exploits between the lines. And the weekend of Feb. 15-16 he’ll enter Cameron University’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his work as a coach and administrator.
But you should know him because he’s seen it all, done it all and remembers it like it was yesterday. Because his enshrinement into one more hall of fame may not be a huge story, the opportunity to catch up with him is huge indeed.
Where’d “Bear” come from?
It was 1938 or 39 and the newspaper he’d been selling, The Oklahoma News was no longer in business, so he and his younger brothers, Bill and Harvey, approached B.M. Shields, who ran The Oklahoman and Times office in Norman. Shields gave them jobs and monikers, too.
“You’re going to be the three bears,” Shields told Jensen.
Maybe it stuck because he was the oldest. Whatever, it stuck so well that earlier this week, phoned for an interview and asked upon answering, “Is this Lester?,” it took him a moment to realize it was.
He graduated from Norman High in 1945, where he played for Arlo “Skivey” Davis. Though state titles were not recognized until 1944, Jensen remembers being ranked No. 1 in 1943.
“We lost one game, to the Amarillo Golden Sandies,” he said. “We used to play them every year.”
What he remembers most about that game was there being 25 Tigers and 75 Sandies, a number committed to memory because he counted them.
“They were the only high school in Amarillo at the time,” Jensen said.
He remembers his senior year well, mostly because so many players got hurt, including star running back Bill Remy, whose bloodline would eventually fill Norman pitches with some of the nation’s best female soccer talent.
“He was a fine football player,” Jensen said.
A star on the grid and the diamond, Jensen was part of NHS’ state-champion 1945 basketball team, too. Though, he’s not too proud to admit, he came off the bench on the hardwood.
He went to Oklahoma to play football for Dewey “Snorter” Luster, because, apparently, every football coach back then had a nickname.
He was an All-Big Six pick as a freshman (and you can look it up in the Sooner football media guide), but chose to exit for East Central, in Ada, when Luster departed following the 1945 season to make way for Jim Tatum.
The story there revolved around Frank Crider, who had an NHS stop on his resumé, but had become a veteran assistant at OU under Luster. Crider decided to take the head coaching job at ECU when Tatum replaced Luster and Jensen decided it would be a good idea to join him.
After starring at ECU, Jensen stayed as an assistant coach before taking the football reins at Davis High School. His 1951 team tied the state title game with Thomas, but lost on “penetrations,” a penetration being entry inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, the Red Zone before it had a name.
He spent two seasons at Pauls Valley before taking over Claremore’s football program, where he won only two games his first season, 1954, before going on to post a 74-25-4 mark over 10 seasons.
Next stop, Cameron, in Lawton, where Jensen became head football coach and athletic director in 1964. He led the football program for 10 seasons and went 60-35-4. His first bunch of Aggies finished the season ranked No. 1 and won an invitation to the Junior Rose Bowl played inside the actual Rose Bowl, in Pasadena.
As AD, a position held until 1981, he oversaw Cameron’s transition from a two-year school to a four-year school, and when the Aggies needed a baseball coach in 1975, Jensen took that job, too. Expecting to be in the dugout a season or two, he stayed until 1984.
Talking to him about it all, and other stuff, is a pleasure.
Looking back, he thinks he had the most fun coaching high school football. At home in Norman, if there’s a game on, he’s watching, even though that means having to put up with so many spread offenses.
“I don’t like it, personally. We played the other way,” he said. “The split-T formation, the I-formation and things like that. It was run, run, run and now it’s pass, pass, pass. I’ve always thought if I could get rid of the passing game, I would.”
He still drives, and frequently that means morning coffee at McDonald’s on Tecumseh, near the newest Norman Regional Hospital campus and evening coffee at McDonald’s on Lindsey.
Often the subject among Jensen’s crew is politics where, as a man who remembers when it was hard to find a Republican in Cleveland County and now regrets the fact that it’s often hard to find anything but them, he’s often outnumbered.
No that it bothers him.
“I’ve never lost an argument yet,” Jensen said, “but I’ve had some of them prolonged.”
Though his wife will leave the room to watch “Dancing with the Stars,” while he refuses to turn it away from football, he readily accepts that Hazel knows her stuff.
“She’s watched so many football games,” he said, “she knows as much about football as I do.”
Though he made his name as the winningest football coach in one high school’s history and one university’s history and, as an administrator, built facilities that remain busy and well-used today, he came back to his hometown in 1986, 40 years after he left it.
“I think Norman’s a great town,” Jensen said. “It’s not quite like it was, but it’s a good town.”
Track him down and you’ll find a good story to go with it.
This is the way it works.
Manziel has been ‘Johnny Off the Spot’ during Browns training camp
It doesn’t take long to see that Johnny Manziel isn’t ready.
Just stand on the sideline at a Browns’ practice, and you’ll know. Watch Brian Hoyer run the first-team offense with confidence and precision, hitting his receivers in stride, comfortably executing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s complicated system.
Then watch Manziel work with the second-team offense, when he underthrows what should be an easy pass on an out route, have a snap sail over his head in the shotgun formation and miss a receiver over the middle on another route.
This is pretty obvious stuff.
Even to Manziel.
Castiglione lends hardwood expertise to new football playoff committee
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione serves on the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee and will be the committee chair for the 2015-16 season.
Does he have any advice for the 13 members of the football playoff selection committee?
Bulldog grad a Carolina Panther
Former Edmond Memorial linebacker Anthony Morales is not going to attend school this fall at Weber State University.
Instead, he signed an NFL contract with the Carolina Panthers Thursday morning.
“I’m on the 90-man roster and I've got to make the cut, so I’ll be in the preseason games and then after the third one, they do the cut to 55 and then after the last game, they go down to 53,” Morales said. “(The Panthers)” have 10 linebackers, including myself.”
Edmond swimmers dominate at All-State meet
Edmond was again well represented in the All-State swim meet Monday night in Jenks. The West dominated the East, rambling away to a convincing 72-21 decision in the girls competition. The West boys cleared the East, 55-38.
In girls action, Edmond North graduate Olivia Seefeldt won a pair of individual events, taking the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She was also a member of the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay teams, which also won gold medals.
Edmond Santa Fe hosting Punt, Pass & Kick competition
Young pro football fans will have the opportunity to exhibit their football skills when the Edmond Santa Fe Touchdown Club hosts an NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition Saturday, Aug. 16 at the Edmond Santa Fe Football Stadium, 1901 N.W. 15th St. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the competition kicking off an hour later. Punt, Pass & Kick is free and open to boys and girls ages 6-15. Entry forms and rules are available online at NFLPPK.com. For competition information, contact Kelly Kay at email@example.com.
Deer Creek 2nd largest in Class 5A
With the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association releasing enrollment figures, Deer Creek stands as the second-largest school in Class 5A with 1,252 students.
Lawton Eisenhower, which had been a very strong football program in 6A, is now tops in 5A with 1,281 students.
Schedules in football classification still remain the same until 2016-17. Del City will move back into 6A beginning in 2016.
The statistics will not be deemed official until pending approval at the OSSAA’s board meeting next month.
Wilson, Grissom take on more suitable roles for 2015 season
Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins.
The moves were made to aid OU’s defense. They could benefit both in the future.
Yurcich ready for second season
With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.
Yurcich and most of the Cowboys’ coaching staff attended the annual media golf outing Wednesday at Karsten Creek. He, along with the other assistant coaches, talked about the upcoming season.
“Every offense is going to be a little bit different from year to year, depending on the personnel,” Yurcich said. “I think you learn a little bit more about the players, because you know them for a longer time. You know a little bit more about the coaches you work with because you’re around them a little bit longer. All of those things factor into one more year of experience.
Wallar voted National Tennis Coach of the Year finalist
The National High School Athletic Coaches Association honored Dee Ann Waller, coach and teacher from Edmond North High School, as a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in tennis.
Eight finalists from across the nation were chosen to be honored during The National Coach of the Year awards banquet that took place during the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s national convention June 14-18, at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wy.
McKey to compete in North American final
Edmond’s Mary McKey, who attends John Carroll Catholic School in Oklahoma City, qualified for the Hershey’s Track & Field Games North American Final after winning the Hershey’s Oklahoma State Meet June 28.
McKey, 12, had the fastest time in the region that consists of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Hershey only accepts eight runners from North America.
McKey is a Catholic grade school champion and the first Catholic student to qualify for the North American final. She is also a Jim Thorpe Games 400-meter champion.
The North American final will run Aug. 2 in Hershey, Pa.
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