tennis coach announces retirement
Having led the Cowley men’s tennis team to two national championships and 16 top-10 national tournament finishes in 18 years, Larry Grose retired effective Sept. 1. A retirement party was held Sept. 8 in his honor.
“Cowley is my home, so it’s tough to leave,” Grose said. “Everybody has been wonderful to me. Dr. Pat (McAtee, Cowley College President) and I have traveled this road together, and Tom (Saia, Tiger Athletic Director) and I have become good friends. This has been a wonderful experience.
“It’s been a great journey. I would do it again tomorrow if given the chance.”
After graduating from Arkansas City High School in 1961, Grose played tennis at Wichita State University Oklahoma State University. He graduated from OSU in 1966.
Grose then spent 11 years running Grose’s IGA alongside his mother, Oralee. He then left the family business and spent the next 11 years working for Givens Fur Company, then two years at Kelly-Gray Menswear before he was hired at Cowley in January 1988.
The team Grose inherited took last in Region VI in his first year as coach. However, the next season resulted in the first of Grose’s two national championships. After working magic in just his second year as coach of the Tigers, Grose led Cowley to its second national championship in 1991. With Grose at the helm, Cowley never finished worse than 10th during its 16 trips to the national tournament.
“Everything he has accomplished as a tennis coach here speaks for itself,” Saia said. “He was not only a great coach, but also a great person. He will be tough to replace because he is a special person to all of us. For the athletic department there is only going to be one coach Larry.”
Grose coached 32 All-Americans during his 18 years, and captured nine Region VI titles. Only twice in his 18 seasons did the Tigers fail to qualify for the national tournament, and even then they still had individual representation.
Grose had a special way of getting the most out of his players. “I think with my personality traits and the style that I use I found a way to attract people to the program,” Grose said. “I was able to bring in good talent and then when I got them here it seemed like I had a way of keeping them happy and they enjoyed their experience at Cowley. Our teams competed hard, but as they did that it was fun.”
Grose will be remembered not only for his success in building the Tiger tennis program into one of the top junior college tennis programs in the country, but also for his easy going, gregarious spirit.
“There is nothing better an old tennis bum could do than be a tennis coach and get paid for it,” Grose said. “I want to thank the community and my friends at the college for their support. It has been a real trip.”