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.
Tennis camps offered in Edmond
Edmond Raquet Club is offering a pair of tennis camps beginning May 28.
For ages 5-8, a camp is offered from 8:45-9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and for ages 7-15 a tennis camp is available from 6-6:55 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both camps run from May 28-June 13 and cost is $99 per camp.
A camp session for ages 8-16 will run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30-9:25 a.m. May 29-June 12 for the identical cost.
For more information concerning these camps and others, call 341-4241.
UCO winds up 10th nationally
Taylor Neidy fired a final-round 75, but Central Oklahoma failed to move up in the team standings at the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. Saturday.
The Bronchos closed with a 323 — making 11 double bogeys and three triples — and finished 10th in the four-day, 72-hole tournament with a 1,298 total on the 6,228-yard, par-72 Arthur Hills Legends Course at LPGA International.
Lynn ended Nova Southeastern’s four-year reign as national championships, finishing with a 1,187 total to edge the Sharks by three strokes.
Central Oklahoma softballers make World Series again
Hayley Hudson gave Central Oklahoma a 5-4 lead with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning and the No. 19-ranked Bronchos staved off a seventh-inning Winona State threat to capture the NCAA Division II Central Super Regional championship Saturday afternoon at Edmond North High School.
The Warriors put two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in a bid to pull out a late win and force a deciding game in the best-of-three series, but left fielder Devyn Frazier made a running catch in foul territory for the final out to set off a wild celebration on the field.
UCO improved to 47-11 — a school-record for wins — with its 23th consecutive home victory and advanced to the Division II World Series for the second straight year. The Bronchos will face Armstrong Atlantic in the eight-team World Series at 11 a.m. Thursday in Salem, Va.
“I’d say that was a nail-biter,” head coach Genny Stidham said. “It was a good game, both teams played well. Winona has a great team and they didn’t give up, but we came up with some big plays and came out on top.
Central Oklahoma golf coach picks up award
Central Oklahoma’s Michael Bond has been named the NCAA Division II Central Region Coach of the Year by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, with Aly Seng and Erica Bensch both earning All-Central Region honors.
Bond led the Bronchos to perhaps the best season in school history in 2012-13 with top-five finishes in 10 of their 12 tournaments. UCO won three titles, including the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association crown and its first-ever regional championship, and finished 10th in the Division II national tournament.
Workman's blast cranks UCO's engine; Bronchos cruise to 5-2 win
Nicole Workman’s solo home run gave Central Oklahoma a lead it would never relinquish and the No. 19-ranked Bronchos went on to topple Winona State 5-2 in the first game of the NCAA Division II Central Super Regional Friday night at the Edmond North High School Softball Complex.
Workman blasted her 14th homer of the season to lead off the second inning, with UCO adding three runs in the third and one more in the fifth to take a commanding 5-0 lead before the Warriors created some anxious moments in their final at bat.
WSU scored two runs and had runners on second and third on with just one out in the top of the seventh, but Kalynn Shrock got the final two batters to close out her fourth straight complete-game outing of the postseason and put the Bronchos in control of the best-of-three series.
Richters rip competition at KickingBird
The KickingBird 2-man scramble was won by Jeff and Josh Richter, finishing with a 57.9 on May 11.
Jeff Jester and Kevin Wright wrapped up second-place honors with a 59.9 and Rick Morales and Ronnie Roberts placed third (60.1).
In the second flight, the top score was 60.4 by Jerry Bernhardt and Ted Carter. Picking up silver was the tandem of Jerry Fuller and Ramona Jacobi (61.2) and the third-place squad was Dyke Hoppe and Mark VanSickle at 62.0.
Morales was closest to the pin on No. 6 and Jeff Richter landed a dart on hole 14.
Eagles' season finished; Lopez earns national honor
Southeastern, Fla. eliminated Oklahoma Christian 4-0 om the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series in Mason, Ohio today to advance to the tournament semifinals, while OC closes at 26-26.
OC would have advanced to the semifinals with a win, but completed a terrific turnaround from an 8-34 season in 2012. The Eagles made only the second national-tournament appearance in the program's history, with the other coming in 1972, when OC finished third in the NAIA World Series.
Multiple baseball camps offered in Edmond
Edmond Schools baseball coaches Kyle Roberts (Edmond Memorial), Jeff Shafer (Edmond Santa Fe) and Karl King (Edmond North) will instruct the Edmond All-Star Baseball Camps starting May 28 at Edmond North High School.
A pair of all-skills camps will take place for kids ages 5 and older from May 28-31 and June 3-6. Times are the same, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
On June 7, a pitcher/catcher camp will be offered for ages 8 and older with the identical time frame. Cost is $35 for the pitcher/catcher camp and $125 for the all-skills camp.
For further inquiries, contact Karl King at 863-3570.
Arthur Hills eating up Bronchos
Central Oklahoma’s struggles continued at the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. Friday.
The Bronchos made 10 double bogeys and two triple bogeys en route to a season-high 329 score on the rugged 6,228-yard, par-72 Arthur Hills Legends Course at LPGA International, leaving UCO in 10th place with a three-round total of 975.
Nova Southeastern has an 881 total heading into Saturday’s final round, giving the four-time defending champion Sharks a one-shot lead over second-place Lynn.
Bronchos will make 12th appearance in national golf championship Monday
No. 18-ranked Central Oklahoma will make its 12th appearance in the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships in Hershey, Pa. next week.
The 54-hole stroke play portion of the tournament runs Monday-Wednesday at the 7,061-yard, par-71 Hershey Country Club East Course, with the top-eight teams from the 20-team field advancing to match play.
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