Over the past three years, the head football coaches of Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have competed in a friendly contest to see which state could recruit more new mentors for youths during the college football season. Last year, University of Kansas head coach Turner Gill joined the challenge in favor of Kansas.
This year, the state of Iowa jumps into the mix, with both University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa State University coach Paul Rhoads.
The challenge, which kicked off yesterday and runs through Nov. 21, will tally up the number of mentor applications submitted in each state over that time period. A mentoring group from each state— Kansas Mentors, Nebraska’s TeamMates mentoring program, and the Iowa Mentoring Partnership—will host the competition.
Each state’s mentoring organization aims to recruit adult mentors for school-age youths, to help facilitate their graduation from high school. The mentors spend anywhere from 1-3 hours per week with their mentees, pulling from a wide range of activities: anything from playing sports or board games to reading a book or doing a jigsaw puzzle together.
Nebraska coach Tom Osbourne started the TeamMates program with his wife, Nancy, nearly 20 years ago. The Kansas Mentors program initially began under former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and Kansas State coach Bill Snyder currently runs it.
The winner of the competition will be announced, naturally, at college football games in late November or early December. The Iowa/Nebraska winner will be announced during the Iowa vs. Nebraska game on Nov. 25, and the Iowa/Kansas winner and overall winner will be announced during the Iowa State vs. Kansas State game on Dec. 3.
Kansas won the 2009 challenge by recruiting 5,000+ mentors to the state, according to Kansas Mentors, and took home the 2010 crown as well with another 4,000+ new mentors.
Can Nebraska or Iowa prevent a four-peat by the Sunflower State this year? We’ll find out right around the time we’re all gobbling turkeys or tofu.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.