Ted Kessinger first thought of others when he learned about his induction into the National College Football Hall of Fame.
Kessinger, former coach at Bethany, and former Wichita State coach Willie Jeffries are members of the six-person class from small colleges who will be inducted in July.
"I'm really choked up a bit," Kessinger said. "I wasn't aware this was coming down the road. It's a lot to be thankful for."
Kessinger was 219-57-1 in 28 seasons at Bethany, never enduring a losing season. His Swedes won KCAC championships 16 times and he was conference coach of the year 11 times.
When he retired as coach in 2003, Kessinger was NAIA's winningest active coach in percentage and total wins. Kessinger remains in Lindsborg as a special consultant to the college president.
He considers the honor a reflection of help from his family, his assistant coaches and his players.
"I thank the Lord for surrounding me with good people," he said. "These things don't happen because of one person."
Kessinger is pleased the Hall of Fame is recognizing coaches and athletes from outside the spotlight of big-time athletics. In his mind, coaches do important work with young people, regardless of the size of budgets or stadiums.
"To me it's not one level is better than another level," he said. "Whether you're at KU or K-State or Bethany College or Ottawa, that's not the difference. It's the profession. You're in the classroom."
Jeffries was NCAA Division I's first African-American football coach when he was hired at WSU in 1979. He coached five seasons, including the 1982 season in which the Shockers rolled to an 8-3 record.
Jeffries also coached three black national championship winners and seven MEAC conference champions. He came to WSU from South Carolina State, then coached at Howard from 1984-88 before returning to S.C. State, where he retired as coach in 2001. He is now head coach emeritus.
Jeffries and Kessinger, along with players Emerson Boozer (Md.-Eastern Shore), Troy Brown (Marshall), Brian Kelley (Cal Lutheran) and Milt Morin (Massachusetts), will be inducted during ceremonies July 16-17 in South Bend, Ind.