John Bender coached the K-State football team for only the 1915 season, but that season brought the concept of homecoming and the Wildcats to life.
Going into the season, Bender dubbed his team the “Wildcats” because he thought it would represent the scrappy attitude the team would need to display to win.
That year’s football game was against the University of Kansas. Bender began the movement to bring back alumni and wanted to honor former players at the game.
He thought the team would need that energy to take on the hated rival that won 11 of the first 12 games against K-State. (Take a moment to laugh at the idea of KU being an overpowering football team.)
The homecoming game took place Oct. 23, 1915. While the Wildcats lost 7-19 to Kansas, they held a 7-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The team’s record in 1915 was 3-4-1, and it didn’t win a conference game. Still, it was an important year for the university.
As the university wraps up its 150th birthday celebration this week, here’s a salute to Bender, who liked a good time and was a great namer of things.