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2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Spotlight: Bob Wakefield

By Alyssa Fox on 10/13/2017 The 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet takes place Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at Panhandle State.The 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet takes place Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at Panhandle State.

Goodwell, Okla.—The second inductee of the 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame is 1979-1981 Aggie Basketball athlete, Bob Wakefield. Wakefield shares a number of warmhearted memories of his time at Panhandle State and the people he encountered along the way, including his former basketball coach.

Dennis Aye, known by many as Denny, was a well renowned basketball coach and recruiter, and when Aye's first collegiate coaching job brought him to Palmer Junior College in Iowa, it also brought him to Bob Wakefield. Wakefield connected with Aye on a level most star athlete and coaches can only aspire to; so the next year when Aye's coaching journey led him down a path to coach at Murray State in Oklahoma, Wakefield was all-in to follow.

It was in 1979 that Oklahoma Panhandle State made the announcement of the hiring of Coach Dennis Aye to the Men's Basketball staff and, not to sever a good bond, Bob Wakefield packed up and made his way to the Goodwell campus to become an Aggie alongside his coach. "I had the opportunity to play for coach Aye all four years. He was a great coach and he took a chance on me when nobody else would," reminisces Wakefield on his connection with Aye.

Wakefield joined the Panhandle Aggies as a junior and was contented to be welcomed with open arms. He spoke emphatically about the Panhandle community, saying, "People were truly just great." He continued, "We had a game on my birthday and they stopped the game to sing me happy birthday," recalls Wakefield fondly.

Though gladdened and gratified by the opportunity presented at Panhandle, Wakefield still felt he had something to prove. "A lot of people passed me over, and a lot of people passed us over because they had never heard of Panhandle State. Teams thought they could just come in and step on us," says Wakefield.

In previous years, the Aggies fell short in season wins to losses, but Bob Wakefield and the 79-81 team had plans to change that. His junior year, Wakefield and the team went 17-11 and in his senior year the Aggies made history with a 24-7 season and made it to the playoffs for the first time in school history. Panhandle knocked off nationally ranked teams and took two of three games at the McDonald's Texas Invitational, where Wakefield was recognized as a McDonalds Classic All Star.

In his two seasons as an Aggie, Panhandle Basketball only lost one game at home and proved to those opponents naïve enough to underestimate that Panhandle State is, in fact, a name to be known. "We tried to set a new standard for ourselves and for the school," says Wakefield, and record shows they did just that. Wakefield was a proud member of the esteemed 'O' Club for varsity letter winners, acclaimed MVP of the '79-'80 team, recognized as All District First Team both years at Panhandle State, was ranked third in the nation for scoring, and found himself with an impressive 28 points per game career average. "We accomplished some things that may never be done again," says Wakefield.

Wakefield says he owes his treasured time as an Aggie to Coach Aye, but also to his teammates. "I am so grateful to my teammates. You might come to Panhandle State thinking there might not be a lot there, but that all changes when you meet the people. You want to play well for people that appreciate you and what you're doing," recalls Wakefield. He continues, "People would say they've never seen anybody play like me before, I thought well, there's guys on TV that play like this but I brought my own skills and a different style from my previous schools." Wakefield left such an impression at Panhandle State that he even had a few friends enroll after his graduation hoping to follow in his footsteps.

A 1981 graduate, he earned his degree in Health and Physical Education from Panhandle State, and left a highly commended and admired basketball career in his wake. He lived in Oklahoma City for 30 years before moving back to his hometown of East Moline, Illinois nine years ago, where he now resides with his wife and son. Wakefield also has two daughters who currently live in Oklahoma City, and one living in Florida with her husband who is a Naval officer. A married father of four, Wakefield is now retired and is enjoying it, though from time to time he will help to train familial aspiring athletes. Wakefield's son was a part of the Midwest City High All State team in Oklahoma City in 2009, and he currently has two nieces in high school he plans to show the ropes and pass on his legendary Aggie skills.

"I have no regrets," says Wakefield, "I was supposed to go to University of Iowa and some things didn't work out, but then I met coach Aye and he gave me a chance." To present and future Aggies Wakefield advises, "Just never give up. You never know what is going to happen. When things were looking bad they gave me a chance to make something of myself and I have been very blessed and I thank God for it."

2017 has been a notable year for Bob Wakefield, who is a Hall of Fame inductee for the 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame as well as the United Township Hall of Fame where Wakefield attended high school. "This has truly been amazing," says Wakefield excitedly, "To be in the Hall of Fame at your high school and at your college is just great." He plans to be in attendance at the Hall of Fame ceremony and banquet, and will be joined by his uncle and close friends, including fellow Aggie basketball teammate and '81 graduate, Jeff Levetzow, who will give Wakefield's introduction speech. Wakefield is looking forward to a night of reminiscing, "The memories just go on and on. I just want to thank everyone for their support. It was like family and I will never forget that."

The banquet and induction ceremony will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom on the Panhandle State campus. Those wishing to attend can contact Victor Esparza by email at coachvic@opsu.edu or by phone at 580-349-1324 for reservations and ticket information. Reservations are encouraged as space fills up quickly at this celebrated event.