Sunday, July 17, 2011

EMAW #3 - Veryl Switzer

(3rd in a series on great sports figures from Kansas State University - Every Man a Wildcat)

Veryl Switzer is a long-time KSU icon.  He lettered in football and track from 1951-1953 before embarking on a professional football career.  While at KSU, Switzer was an All Big 7 selection each year and was a 1st Team All-American in 1953 when he lead the nation in punt returns with a 31.0 average.
1954 Bowman #105
In 1954, Switzer was selected as the 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.  He would lead the NFL in punt returns during his rookie season with a 12.8 average.  He would continue to play for the Packers for another year before heading to the U.S. Air Force for 3 years.  Following his military career, Switzer continued his professional career in the Canadian Football League first with the Calgary Stampeders and finally the Montreal Alouettes.
1955 Bowman #35
After working for the Chicago Board of Education following his football career, Switzer returned to KSU in a variety of capacities including Assistant Director of Athletics until his retirement in 1999.  He has been inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the KSU Sports Hall of Fame, and the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.

Now for your history lesson...Veryl Switzer was born in the town of Nicodemus, KS.  Nicodemus is the oldest and only remaining all Black town west of the Mississippi.  It was founded by a white town planner and a black preacher in 1877.  Most of its founding members were freed slaves from Kentucky, known as Exodusters.  The town would grow despite horrible living conditions (high winds and drought in a farming community), but when the railroad bypassed Nicodemus, the town began to dwindle.  It is currently home to less than 40 individuals but it is a National Historic Site with a full-time park ranger and museum.  Check out the National Parks Service website here.
Veryl Switzer in front of the St. Francis Hotel in Nicodemus.  Switzer and his siblings
were born in this building that he currently owns and hopes to refurbish.

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