After suffering a serious knee injury that ended her volleyball career at K-State, senior Bryna Vogel was surprised by a presidential token.
“I came to the game in a wheelchair because I wanted to support my team,” she said. “President Myers stopped me and gave me this coin.”
K-State President Richard Myers awarded Vogel a K-State Coin, a tradition he recently brought with him from his time in the U.S. military. The coin features a purple Powercat and Myers’ name on one side and the university seal on the other.
Myers said he liked the idea used in the military of members receiving challenge coins from commanding officers as a token of gratitude.
“That was a military tradition for rewarding people for doing really good work,” he said.
The tradition has its own lore, including certain challenges between members who have received the coins.
“You are supposed to keep them on you at all times,” Myers said. “If you were later challenged and someone brought out their coin and you didn’t have yours, then you owed them a soda or a cup of coffee.”
Myers said he uses the coins at K-State for the same reason as he did in the military, but the challenge part of the coin is not included in the K-State coin. Instead, he just wants to show the people of the K-State community he appreciates their work.
“If someone has done something a little out of the ordinary, I’ll present them with a coin,” he said. “It’s usually for efforts above and beyond. We aren’t just going to hand them out.”
So far Myers estimates he has handed out about 50 coins to K-State faculty, staff and students.
“We’re pretty careful handing them out,” he said. “It’s not an everyday occurrence.”
He said it was the same for the military coins he awarded when he was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He would often get calls from military members asking for a coin from the chairman, he would tell them no, he said.
“You have to earn these,” he said. “We wanted it to be something special.”
Myers said Vogel is a great example of someone who earned the coin.
“I was just hoping to tell her how much we appreciated her,” he said.
Vogel said Myers gave her a coin because of her leadership on the volleyball team, and he wanted her to know the university appreciates her even though her career came to a disappointing end.
“It was definitely hard because he was talking about how he wishes I was still out there being able to play,” she said. “He felt I really deserved it because of all of the work and commitment I’ve put into the team.”
She said receiving the coin is an honor.
“I’m humbled he took the time and came over to me, especially because it was such a hard night and I was going through a lot with my injury,” she said. “That was really nice of him and I really appreciate him doing that.
“I’ll definitely cherish it,” she added.
Myers said he hoped the coin would help lift Vogel’s spirits.
“It’s just a nice little token,” Myers said. “Here’s K-State in your hand.”