Ron Slaymaker first stepped onto the court at White Auditorium as an undergraduate at Emporia State. Nearly 60 years later, that same court was named in his honor Feb 28.
“This is very special to myself and to my family and to a lot of other people,” Slaymaker said. “It is a magic moment and a special situation, but I did not get here by myself. I had help and a lot of it.”
After playing for the Hornets basketball team, Slaymaker became head coach in 1970, a position he held for 28 years. After his retirement in 1998, his ties to White Auditorium were not severed, as he continued to officiate for high school games.
“We played several games in high school and I knew him as a referee, but I don’t think many people know the impact he has had on Emporia sports,” said Dillon Riley, sophomore secondary education major. “I had no idea the same guy (refereeing) our high school games would get the court dedicated to him.”
Slaymaker was honored at halftime of the men’s basketball game last Thursday against rival Washburn. Emporia mayor Bobbi Mlynar began the dedication.
“He has done so much as a player and a coach and has been a role model to young men and women,” Mlynar said.
During his time as a coach, Slaymaker held a record of 465-361, the highest total winning record at ESU. He was also named NAIA national coach of the year after winning four straight district championships and five Central States Intercollegiate Conference championships.
“It is extremely humbling to be apart of all of it,” Slaymaker said. “It is not about me – it is about a lot of other people. I came here 60 years ago from Peabody and have been here ever since. (Emporia) is a great place to live and to raise a family.”
Slaymaker is also a member of the Emporia State Athletic Hall of Honor, Kansas Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame, according to ESU’s website.
In is 1995-96 season, he was also awarded the Don Jones Memorial Courage Award by the KBCA after battling prostate cancer.
Slaymaker still coaches high school games at White Auditorium today.