January 21, 2005
Cowley baseball player, 4.0 student, January Student of Month
Travis Kliewer has been a pretty good athlete all
his life. Baseball has always been his favorite sport. Growing up in
the small town of Fairview, Okla., about a half-hour southwest of Enid,
Kliewer (pronounced Kleever) got an early introduction to Cowley College
“I was probably 12 or 13 when Cowley won the two national championships,” Kliewer said. “My older brother played (American) Legion baseball, and (Cowley head baseball coach) Dave (Burroughs) and (assistant coach Darren Burroughs) Lefty went to a lot of his games. I remember going to see one of my brother’s games and seeing the national championship ring. I knew it was a big-time program.”
Kliewer, a sophomore physical therapy major with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, is Cowley’s January Student of the Month. The son of Clay and Tammy Kliewer is a pitcher on the Tiger baseball team who is hoping to become a part of this year’s starting rotation.
As a freshman, Kliewer came out of the bullpen as a middle-inning reliever. “I was talking to my summer baseball coach, Bill Mayberry, and he asked me if I wanted to go juco (junior college) or four-year” out of high school, Kliewer said. “I told him that if I go juco, I want to go to Cowley.” Mayberry told Kliewer that he knew the Burroughs brothers personally, and that he’d make a phone call for Kliewer.
“In April (2003) I came up on a visit,” Kliewer said. “As soon as I got here, meeting Lefty (Darren) and Dave, I knew this was where I wanted to be. The coaches are very serious about baseball, and it’s exactly the type of program I wanted to be in.” Kliewer, who is attending Cowley on a baseball scholarship, said he’s had a great experience.
Besides being a member of the Tiger baseball team, he works for Academic Civil Engagement through Service, the college’s community service organization; is a member of Phi Theta Kappa; has been on the President’s Honor Roll and National Dean’s List; is a resident assistant in the Storbeck Dormitory; is listed in Who’s Who Among Students at American Junior Colleges; and is a finalist for Homecoming King. Valedictorian of his 63-student high school graduating class, Kliewer also has done volunteer work in Manna Ministries through First American Baptist Church in Arkansas City.
Kliewer, 20, who is sandwiched between brothers Jeremy 23 and Jordon 17, is excited about being chosen January Student of the Month. “It’s a great honor to be selected by the faculty,” he said. “A Student of the Month is a leader at the school, is responsible and hard working. It’s also a person who not only succeeds at Cowley, but later on in life.”
Kliewer plans to transfer to a school that has physical therapy and a solid baseball program. “I know I’ve only got two more years of baseball, so I want to go somewhere to continue my physical therapy study,” Kliewer said. Kliewer’s work ethic and leadership have been noticed. “I hope my peers look at me as a leader, especially on the baseball team,” he said. “I hope the guys look up to me.”
Although his statistics weren’t eye-popping as a freshman—3-0 record, one save and a 2.50 earned-run average in 15 appearances—he gained the respect of his teammates during the Region VI Tournament. “My claim to fame was against Garden City,” Kliewer said. “I threw five innings and gave up no runs and no hits after relieving (Cowley ace Josh) Wahpepah. We trailed 10-0, and we lost 10-7.”Kliewer endured a rocky start in that game. After walking the first batter he faced on four consecutive pitches, he proceeded to serve up two more balls to the second batter, who then promptly grounded into a double play. “Oh, yeah, I was very nervous out there,” he said. “I was just numb. I really didn’t even feel myself standing on the mound. ”Kliewer hopes to use that energy to his advantage this season. “I want to perform well for Coach Dave and Lefty, and I want to do well for this program,” Kliewer said.
Kliewer said if baseball hadn’t worked out, Cowley still was at the top of his list of schools. “Even without a scholarship, I was going to pay my way,” he said. “I was coming here. I just wanted to be a part of the program.” Starting his fourth semester, Kliewer is pleased with his choice of schools. “Everything about it has been great,” he said. “I have friends at other schools who have problems with teachers. Here, you can get one-on-one instruction. They know you personally. I don’t know if I want to go to a huge, huge school after Cowley.”
Kliewer said he chose physical therapy after spending a year rehabilitating his injured knees. As a high school sophomore quarterback, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. After six months of rehabilitation, he came back and played QB as a junior, only to tear the ACL in his left knee, plus some cartilage. He went through another six months of therapy. “Doing rehab and being around the physical therapists really got me interested,” Kliewer said.
“I want to go into sports (medicine) where I’m working with athletes.” For now, Kliewer hopes to help the Tigers get back to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. “I’m hoping I can have a pretty good spring,” said Kliewer, whose fastball has been clocked at 89 miles per hour. Besides his pure love for the game, Kliewer plays baseball for another reason. “My grandpa played baseball at Emporia State,” Kliewer said of Ron Hiebert. “He was a pitcher there, too.” Ron and his wife Shirley live in Olathe. “He was burned in a fire in college and it ruined his pitching career,” Kliewer said. “He talks to me about pitching. It’s neat for him to see one of his grandkids to keep on throwing.”
Kliewer, whose hobbies include listening to music, working out, watching sports and following the Oklahoma Sooners, said he admires both of his brothers. “I strive to be just like Jeremy and go past what he’s done,” Travis said. “He sets the bar high. Jordon also sets a good example for me.” Travis will have daily contact with Jeremy as the eldest Kliewer has joined the Cowley baseball staff as a volunteer assistant coach. He played baseball at the University of Indianapolis. “It’s kind of neat to have my older brother here with me,” Travis said. Travis Kliewer said he hadn’t changed much since high school.
“I try to be myself in everything I do,” he said. “I’m a little more outgoing than I was in high school. I’ve always had a real good work ethic. That hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it’s gotten better. I know these are the best baseball players in the nation. You have to work hard.”