Bob Warkentine, Kansas Wesleyan’s head men’s and women’s tennis coach has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2018 tennis season.
2018 is the sixth full season for Warkentine leading the KWU tennis programs. He was named the head coach in April 2012, but did not assume the position until the conclusion of the spring 2012 season.
“Bob has done a great job of building a strong tennis program at Kansas Wesleyan by recruiting outstanding men and women to attend our institution and play tennis,” said Mike Hermann, vice president and director of athletics. “He inherited an under-achieving program, and he’s built it into a competitive one that is well respected in our conference. He’s leaving a solid foundation for the next coach, and he should take great pride in that.”
“Honestly, when I got a call from (former KWU athletic director and football coach) Dave Dallas in February six years ago, and he asked me if I would consider taking the head tennis position, I thought what a great job,” Warkentine said. “What a great opportunity to come back. I was in Pittsburg at the time, but the thought of getting the chance to come back to Salina and coach college tennis was the culmination of what I have done in my career.”
While at Kansas Wesleyan, Warkentine has grown both the women’s and men’s programs into conference contenders each season. On the men’s side, Warkentine turned the program into a conference contender, battling with top teams McPherson and Bethany each season. In 2017, the Coyotes posted the best record in the history of the program at 12-5 and 6-2 in the KCAC, reaching the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2009.
Coming into the 2018 season he has coached 13 All-KCAC players, nine Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, seven CoSIDA Academic All-District and three CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, and five teams have earned NAIA Scholar Team status.
“I worked hard and built a reputation for myself, and I hate to lose and people that know me know that they’re in for a fight against Bob Warkentine. That’s my competitive nature and I have always wanted my athletes to think the same way and I didn’t have that initially at KWU,” Warkentine added. “In my third year, we got better and continued to improve in my fourth year and into this year I really believe that this is the best men’s team Wesleyan has ever had. We got third last year and this year we might get fourth or fifth, but that’s not representative of the quality of the team. We are so deep this year, we have 12 players which is a drastic improvement from where I started and they’re all quality people. And the women, the worst they have gotten is fifth and of course we have beaten Bethany every year. It’s been an interesting ride and it’s been an education for [me], about recruiting and about college coaching because college coaching is a lot different than high school coaching.”
Warkentine has spent 41 years in coaching, primarily at the high school ranks.
He got his coaching start as boys’ tennis coach and assistant football and wrestling coach at Goddard High School in Goddard, Kan. in 1977. Three years later, he moved to Salina, taking similar positions at Salina Central High School, the only difference was he served as head wrestling coach for the Mustangs. In 1984, he became head football coach at Sacred Heart High School in Salina while maintaining his head tennis coach position at Central. Three years later he became an assistant football coach at Salina South High School, while still coaching tennis at Central and in 1989, added the head wrestling coach at South title to his resume. He remained in those positions for 11 years.
As tennis coach his tennis teams won eight straight league championships, five state championships, and five state runner-up finishes.
As wrestling coach at Salina South, Warkentine’s two sons Jason and Eric were each state champions, and Bob was named the 5A Head Coach of the Year in 1988. Warkentine coached Bo Maynes, the only Kansas wrestler to ever go four years without being taken down while being a four-time state champion.
In 2002, Warkentine served three years as head tennis coach at Salina South before heading east to Solomon to serve as principal of Solomon Middle and High Schools from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, he headed to Pittsburg, Kan. to become assistant principal at Pittsburg High School before returning to Salina to coach at Kansas Wesleyan.
“It’s been easy to see that Bob is competitive in everything that he does and that he loves to coach. I’ve always had great confidence that he would get the most from this student-athletes because he really enjoys practice,” Hermann added. “Plus, he truly cares about each and every student. Even though the KCAC has gotten better and better in this sport over Bob’s time here, his programs have climbed up the standings, and that’s a credit to his quality work.”
The 2013 Kansas Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee was selected as the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Official of the Year in 2004. He received a NFHS Officials Association State Award for wrestling in 2009.
Warkentine also has won numerous teaching awards for his work in the classroom. He was named Renaissance Teacher of the Month for USD 305 in 1996, National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars American History Teacher of the Year for the state of Kansas in 1998, and was one of eight teachers selected for the Leadership Academy for USD 305 from 1998-2000. He was awarded a USD 305 “You Make a Difference” Award in 1988, 1995, and 1998. He was also nominated for USD 305 Teacher of the Year in 1995.
In July, Warkentine and his wife Anne are planning to move to Lawrence, but Bob plans to remain active, playing plenty of tennis and golf and helping out at the Jayhawk Tennis Center in Lawrence as well.
“I would like to think that I am leaving the program better than when I found it. I am proud that two years ago, our team was receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. I am proud that we are now getting players on the first team (all-conference),” Warkentine said. “I feel good about the legacy of Bob Warkentine and what I have left at Kansas Wesleyan and I think I have done it the right way. I am proud of what I have done in my career.”