Cowley Alumnus receives honor from the Kansas State High School Athletic Association
Julie (Unruh) Toon, who graduated from Cowley College in 1987, was recently honored as being part of Canton-Galva High School’s incredible run of three straight state basketball championships in the mid 1980’s. The recognition was part of the Kansas State High School Athletic Association’s celebration of 100 years of the state basketball tournament.
Toon was a member of the 1984 Canton-Galva basketball team that went 25-0 and captured the program’s first ever-state title. The team laid the groundwork for the school to capture the next two state titles as well as Canton-Galva becoming a powerhouse at the Class 2A level.
“The reason we were so successful was because the school board finally hired a girl’s basketball coach in Grace Welch, who was an awesome coach, teacher and person,” Toon said. “Canton-Galva had the talent all four of my years in high school plus at least one or two prior to that. But they always handed the team to the football coach. Grace was very particular on discipline, respect and the basics of basketball. We did drills, drills and more drills until we did it exactly right. It paid off. We had one of the best full court and half court presses in the state.”
While in high school, Toon went out for every female sport available. She was an all-league selection in basketball and volleyball and played in a pair of basketball All-Star games as a senior.
She also excelled as a member of the Canton-Galva track and field team as she placed fourth at state in the long jump and sixth at the state meet in the 330-meter low hurdles.
The 1984 girl’s basketball team at Canton-Galva received a banner from the KSHSAA to place in the school’s gymnasium and were notified that they were being inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame at Chisholm Trail Center in Newton, KS.
“It is an honor and is neat for my kids to see some of my accomplishments of high school,” Toon said.
After high school, Toon decided to play basketball at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. However, after one season she decided to transfer to Cowley College and play both basketball and volleyball for then head coach Linda Hargrove.
Having seen limited playing time at Bethany, Toon was able to have two years of eligibility at Cowley College. Toon ended up spending a redshirt season with the Lady Tiger basketball team and decided to concentrate solely on volleyball.
As a member of the Cowley volleyball team, Toon helped the Lady Tigers capture back-to-back Jayhawk East Tri-Championships. During her two years at the school, the Lady Tiger volleyball team went a combined 69-28-2.
“I really loved Cowley and playing for Linda,” Toon said. “Linda and (assistant coach) Deb Nittler were great to play for. Like Grace, I learned a lot from Linda. She was an awesome coach and knew everything about basketball and volleyball. Even though you had to work hard at practice you still enjoyed practicing and playing the game. We had lots of fun off of the court as well.”
Toon, who’s major was in business, graduated from Cowley in May 1987 with an Associate of Arts Degree.
Hargrove is proud to see her former player receive the prestigious honor from the KSHSAA and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame at Chisholm Trail Center.
“This is a tremendous honor for Julie personally and for Cowley as it reflects the kind of student-athlete we tried to recruit here,” Hargrove said. “This is always a positive reflection on Cowley when a former player of ours gets an award like that. Julie was a great role player and teammate at Cowley.”
She went on to play two years of volleyball at Southwestern College before venturing into the work force. Currently, she is the secretary at Holy Name Catholic School in Winfield, KS.
Working at a small school, Toon wears many hats and stays busy doing many things at the school where she has spent the past six years employed.
“I absolutely love my job here working around kids every day,” Toon said.
Toon and her husband, Tim, have been married for 18 years and have seven children, Jordan 15, Chance 14, Jamie 11, Jessie 8, Grace 7, Patrick 3, and Michael 2.
Although she is proud to be associated with the basketball team’s accomplishment at Canton-Galva, Toon knows what is most important to her.
“My family is my biggest and best accomplishment in my life,” Toon said.