In all my years as a sports columnist, I’ve rarely, if ever, talked to a Tabor president about his perspective on sports. In the “better late than never”category, I reached out to Dr. David Janzen, the new president at Tabor College, to learn what his background was in athletics.
But first, here’s a brief look at Janzen’s academic background. A native of Independence, Kansas, and Enid, Oklahoma, Janzen graduated from Tabor in 1990 in mathematics and computer science.
He was a full-time faculty member at California Polytechnic State University from 2006-2021, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. Janzen served as its software engineering coordinator in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.
He also is the co-founder of Steadfast Innovation LLC, which created the handwriting note-taking application Squid for Android and ChromeOS pen-based devices. The application led to strategic partnerships across the technology industry, including Microsoft and Google, among others.
Janzen has published 38 peer-reviewed journal or conference papers, and been awarded more than $1 million in research or outreach funding, including three National Science Foundation grants.
If you know me very well, it’s no secret that President Janzen is way out of my league academically, which is why my conversation with him was purely about athletics.
As a child, Janzen said he loved Little League baseball, playing for the Independence Jaycees. One year, he was co-captain with Derek Schmidt, now the Kansas Attorney General.
“When our coach let me pick my jersey, I chose No. 5, George Brett’s number,” said Janzen. “I also played catch often with Toby Cook, who was VP-Publicity for the KC Royals. Toby told me of his excitement when he started with the Royals and was given George Brett’s former office. It brought back fond memories of childhood baseball.”
While growing up, Janzen also enjoyed playing his Coleco Head-to-Head electronic football game. “As for toys, I spent hours inside building things with my Erector Set and outside with my Mr. Quarterback football passer.”
Janzen ran track early in high school. After his family moved to Enid when he was 16, Janzen added soccer and picked up baseball again at Oklahoma Bible Academy. He also played soccer for one year at Tabor.
“Although I was never a standout athlete, I loved the camaraderie of a team, the mentoring of a coach, and the personal challenge of doing my best and seeing how far that might take me,” said Janzen.
Truth be told, Janzen’s best sport is water skiing. “I bought a Connelly competition slalom ski in high school and spent two summers in college teaching water skiing at Camp Cody on Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire. I even learned to barefoot ski,” said Janzen.
As a fan, Janzen especially enjoys watching basketball. “I like the pace and movement and frequent scoring attempts. I also really love the fan experience being together in a gym with the excitement and noise. As a Tabor student, one of my favorite experiences was playing drums in the pep band under Lonn Richards.”
I asked President Janzen about his favorite sports teams.
“Tabor Bluejays, of course!
“As a child I loved following the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Royals. I was a fan of Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, and coach Tom Landry. As a graduate student at KU, I enjoyed attending many Jayhawks football and basketball games.
“As I’ve grown older, my time for watching sports has dwindled, but I still enjoy the opportunity to watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (March Madness), or a Royals game. Soccer matches were really popular at Cal Poly, and we especially enjoyed them when one of our good friends from church was on the team.
“I am looking forward to watching all sports at Tabor, especially when I know some of the athletes and coaches,” said Janzen.
In my next column, you’ll learn Janzen’s philosophy on the value of sports at a small Christian college like Tabor.