GIRARD, Kan. — Crowder College head baseball coach Travis Lallemand is this year's recipient of the Girard High School's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Outstanding Alumni Award.
In its second year, FCCLA adviser Emily Herlocker noted that the award is a chance to motivate Girard students.
"It is meant to recognize exceptional graduates to inspire our kids that Girard is a special place, and they can become whatever they dream of if they are willing to work for it," she said. "The recipient comes back and tells us their story and how being from Girard helped shape them into who they are today."
Lallemand, a former resident of Girard who became the head coach for the Roughrider baseball program in the summer of 2005, began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Labette Community College for two years before joining Crowder. Since his arrival, he has led Crowder to seven Region 16 Championships (2008, 2010, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022).
Along with the six championships, Lallemand has claimed three South Central District Championships and earned three trips to the Junior College World Series.
Records by year are: 54-13 (2022), 55-8 (2021), 23-3 (2020), 47-16 (2019), 46-15 (2018), 54-14 (2017), 40-22 (2016), 28-21 (2015), 45-17 (2014), 47-13 (2013), 44-17 (2012), 42-18 (2011), 43-24 (2010), 38-18 (2009), 35-28 (2008), 31-25 (2007) and 35-21 (2006).
Lallemand has collected an overall record of 707-293, a 70.7 winning percentage.
Through his years of coaching the Roughriders, Lallemand has helped produce exceptional talent. According to Crowder College, Lallemand has helped over 200 athletes move on to four-year institutions or professional baseball to continue their playing careers.
Lallemand is additionally the first Crowder College coach to be inducted into the Region 16 Hall of Fame. Crowder College officially renamed Roughriders Baseball Field to "Lallemand Family Field" to honor its coach.
"The support structure, administratively, is fantastic," Lallemand said. "We have a growth mindset there, we are building things. We added five new sports. That's what I've always liked about Crowder. There's a high academic standard. We had a 3.5 team grade point average last year, but that standard has remained before me.
“[…] I just enjoy the developmental aspects with the kids. I get a lot of time on the field, I love junior college because of that, and that's where I cut my teeth. I really feel like that's just something that is my fit."
Lallemand shared his experience speaking to students at the Girard Middle School/High School auditorium on Monday.
"It was awesome," he said. "Seeing the new facilities there and just seeing some of the teachers I had, and obviously Blaise Bauer (USD 248 Superintendent) was one of my coaches. Getting to see the people and getting to see the facilities and just being able to speak to kids about just the opportunities I've had in my professional and personal career.
“[…] It was just a really cool experience. I do some speaking, and I do some baseball talks and stuff like that. That's the first one I've spoken on kind of the leadership side of things, and I really enjoyed it."
Last year's recipient was former major leaguer and Girard alumnus Dan Smith, currently the Chief Executive Officer of Watco Companies. Smith expressed his excitement with Lallemand receiving the recognition sharing a special connection with the Crowder coach.
"Travis grew up down the street from me, and my family and his family are good friends," Smith said. "My father had a relationship with Travis, helping him as a player, so we always were pretty proud of Travis' coaching career, still are."
Receiving the award last year, Smith was able to speak to his daughter's senior class.
"My daughter was a senior in high school at the time, so she was there when I met with the school and spoke to the school or spoke to the group," he said. "I was very humbled.”
With the theme of 'Small Town Big Dreams,' Smith noted that despite being from a small town, it's possible to make it anywhere.
"My dad had a saying, 'everybody is from somewhere, why not Girard,' and when I was a kid, I had a dream to be the first player ever drafted out of Girard," he said. "I was drafted, and my brother was second, and we actually had a third a few years later after my brother. So a town that size, to have folks go on and be able to do things."
Lallemand noted that Girard will always be home, complimenting the USD 248 School District.
"It's always going to be home first of all," he said. "But just a small community, I grew up there, so you drive or ride your bike to the pool. It's a safe, midwestern town that has a great school district. I still love the standards that they have at that school with the facial hair standards and the haircuts. The way they do things, the kids need that kind of structure in school.
"Personally, that's my thoughts. I think that that structure is good, it creates a discipline that doesn't go away. I know with our team [Crowder] we are the same way […] Talking to those kids the other day, you see a very attentive group. It was just a really cool opportunity to speak on something different and something I'm not used to."
Smith added that Girard would forever hold a special place in his heart with the town's overwhelming support.
"I love the fact that the people there care a great deal about their community," Smith said. “[…] People have just been so supportive of me and my family, my career and my brothers' career, and when my father passed away, I think sometimes you underappreciate things when you're young.
"When my father passed away in early 2021, it just became really clear to me how much people in the Girard community cared about the Smith Family and vice versa. It's just a special place to me."
Herlocker expressed her appreciation for Lallemand and Smith's inspiring words to the students.
"I am so grateful that our students have the opportunity to hear our legacy alumni's stories," Herlocker said. "They are truly inspired and gain a better understanding of what it is to be Girard Proud."
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