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Important influences shaped Steve Allen for success

This is the first in a series featuring 2019 Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

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Talk with Steve Allen about his induction into his 2019 Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame and little from the conversation will have to do with him.

Even though the NAIA national champion wrestler, state championship wrestling coach and current Broken Arrow Public Schools Board of Education president considers his nomination “one of the greatest honors I could have,” he would much rather discuss the people who influenced him most: those individuals who shaped him into the person he is today.

That all started at home. Allen was raised by a young, single mother, who never graduated high school, but earned her GED and worked two jobs while raising her son.

“She taught me about work,” Allen said of his mother, who died last year. “She taught me about discipline and love.

“Things were tough. But she never quit. She never looked for a way out. Never made excuses. It’s just how she raised me. When I got in trouble she held me accountable.”

That accountability nearly ended his wrestling career before he would finish his senior season as a state runner-up or eventually become a college All-American and NAIA National Champion at Missouri Valley College, where, by the way, he was inducted into that school’s hall of fame in 2009.

Allen, a 1989 BAHS graduate, tells the story this way: “I had a ‘D’ on progress report, so I knew wrestling was over. ‘You tell that coach tomorrow it’s your last day.’” Allen recalls his mother’s words.

He continues: “Coach (Steve) Hill said ‘I’m going home with you.’ She chewed his butt out for an hour and she chewed me out for an hour. I’m walking Coach Hill out to the porch and he goes ‘Allen, please don’t make me have to come back here again, because I don’t want to talk to your mom like that.’ He put a plan together. I studied and got my grade up. She was no nonsense.”

 While Hill dare not get crossways with Allen’s mother again, he came away understanding the expectations she had for her son. The former Tiger wrestling coach held the teenage Steve and his other wrestlers to a high standard.

Allen credits Hill and his junior high coach Tom Frohnapfel, a 2015 BA Hall of Fame inductee, with being among his most significant male figures during his teen years.

“If it wasn’t for those two guys who knows where I would be,” Allen said. “They provided the discipline and structure that I needed in my life.

“I owe a lot to Coach Hill. He never gave up on me. I probably gave him a lot of chances to, but he didn’t. He believed in me. When times got difficult he helped me learn what it was all about to face adversity and not make excuses.”

Nor did Allen make excuses for his son, who he watched become a state champion and nationally ranked high school wrestler.

“I’ll never forget his first day when I coached little league novice,” Allen said. “We were warming up. He was running around. A little bitty, chubby-cheeked kid. He comes over and says ‘Dad, I want to quit.’ We were just jogging and practice had not even started. I’m like ‘what? Why do you want to quit?’ ‘I’m getting all wet.’ I said, ‘Son, that’s called sweating. Get to running.’ I vividly remember that day.”

Eventually, Allen’s son matured and staked out his own wrestling journey that led to an individual state championship. The memory of watching his son, Steven, on that February evening in 2015 at the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds Arena far surpassed his own personal wrestling accomplishments.

“It was just amazing,” an emotional father reflected on his son’s accomplishment. “I’m so proud of him as a dad. Doing it for BA is just amazing.”

It was 17 years earlier, that Allen returned to his hometown from Hopkinsville, Ky., where he was head wrestling coach. In 1998 Allen joined the Broken Arrow wrestling staff as an assistant varsity coach with now-BA Athletic Hall of Famer Steve Dunlap. Allen served as head coach in 2002, and led the Tigers to Dual State and Team State tournament titles.

“It couldn’t have happened without Coach Dunlap wanting me and Kyle Wood and Ken Ellett letting (Coach Dunlap) have the (assistant) spot,” Allen said. “It was awesome. Some of the greatest coaching experiences of my life.”

The 2019 Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame Class will be inducted at Broken Arrow's opening home football game against Owasso on Sept. 13.