K-State TennisI love Kansas State University for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, are the people that I’ve met there. So many amazing people attend K-State and work at K-State. One whom I greatly respect and admire is a coach that most Wildcat fans have never met or possibly never heard of.

Kansas State TennisSteve Bietau has been the head women’s tennis coach at Kansas State for nearly 3 decades. Currently in his 29th season, he’s the 2nd longest tenured coach ever behind legendary track coach Ward Haylett. Bietau is a two-time conference Coach of the Year and has won two ITA Central Region Coach of the Year awards. The wins and awards are great, but I respect him for his values and loyalty.

During my junior year in Manhattan I landed a Kansas State Collegian sports writing job with no prior experience. I dreamed of landing the football or basketball beat, but my lack of experience landed me the tennis assignment. I knew nothing about college tennis or how team tennis worked at all. For my pre-season preview of the Wildcat tennis team, Coach Bietau explained it all to me during an interview I did with him in his office. I stopped by his office every week before a match to get a preview article written. He was always willing to talk and help me gain a greater understanding of college tennis.

One thing I learned is that there are a lot of Eastern European tennis players in the Big XII. The names were a spell-checking nightmare. I misspelled a couple names early in the season and was put on notice by the Collegian editors to clean it up. Following a match with Colorado and subsequent post-dual wrap-up, I was told I was being let go because I misspelled a Colorado player with the last name Fischer. I was furious. I took the spelling directly from the Buffaloes media guide. It was the German spelling of Fischer with the “sch” not “sh”.

I went to Coach Bietau to tell him what happened and that I wouldn’t be covering his team anymore. His reaction will stick with me forever. He picked up the phone and called the Collegian. He told the editors that they weren’t firing me. He wouldn’t allow it. He went on to explain to them that I was the best tennis writer that had ever covered the team. I went to practices, I covered matches from start to finish and I was the most dedicated writer they’ve ever had.

I kept my job. It was agreed that I could continue to cover the team for the experience but not the pay. I didn’t care about the pay. The experience was more valuable than the pennies that I was paid.

Coach Steve Bietau is still leading the Lady Wildcats. I am forever grateful for how he stood up for me. Greatness is all around Kansas State even if some of it goes unnoticed.

About The Author

Seth is a 2000 graduate of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism at Kansas State. While in Manhattan he wrote for the Kansas State Collegian, reported for the Wildcat 91.9 and interned at KSNT-TV in Topeka. He teaches now, but still play with his journalism degree. Living in the middle of Missouri makes it harder to follow the Cats, but he wears enough purple to draw stares at the grocery store. Follow him on Twitter at @catbacker77

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