Tim McCarty, Mike Gardner and Jake Schenk will be inducted into the Tabor College Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 11. The three members of the 2019 class share a bond with the Bluejay football program.
Tim McCarty was named head coach for the 1999 season, and engineered one of the greatest turnarounds in college football, transforming a struggling program into a conference power and securing Tabor’s first NAIA playoff berth in school history. McCarty coached the Bluejays for five seasons. His squads improved each year, capped with a second-place finish in the KCAC, a NAIA ranking of No. 15 and a trip to the playoffs. Coach McCarty was named KCAC Coach-of-the-Year for the 2003 season.
“Being selected is a huge honor for me,” McCarty said of his selection. “I am very humbled by it and am so thankful for the many people who were a big part of it. God gave me great favor. I was really fortunate to have players who believed in something they could not see, an administration who believed and gave me the chance, and the assistant coaches who worked along the way. It was one of the most fun and special times in my coaching journey. My family and I will forever be thankful for our time there.”
Mike Gardner had close ties with McCarty, serving on his staff for three seasons. Gardner was named the 2003 AFCA NAIA Assistant Coach of the Year. When McCarty moved on to Kansas State University, Gardner took over the reigns as head coach and quickly put Tabor in the national spotlight on a consistent basis.
In his first season as head coach, Gardner led Tabor to its first KCAC title and a No. 14 ranking in the NAIA Poll. After two seasons, Gardner went to Malone University, but returned to the Bluejays in 2010. Since his return, Gardner’s teams have consistently fought for conference titles and have been ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation.
Gardner has been named KCAC Coach-of-the-Year four times; his 2005 squad was the first Tabor team to win an NAIA playoff game. Tabor added two more playoff victories under Coach Gardner.
“I have never felt that this kind of recognition is about an individual,” Gardner said. “It is more about the many who have played roles in the development of others. To me, this is a humble celebration of what can happen when you have belief without evidence and empower those around you to do their part in order to accomplish something bigger than any individual.”
Jake Schenk arrived on the Tabor campus in fall 2002. He quickly made an impact on the football field, earning a varsity letter all four years. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player three of those years. His senior year, Schenk was a unanimous choice for the KCAC All-Conference First Team. He also received his team’s NAIA Champions of Character Award, was named to the NAIA All-America First Team as a linebacker, and was the 2006 Tabor College Male Athlete of the Year.
“First, I was very excited and honored to get the call,” Schenk said of his selection. “The second thing I thought about was how grateful I am for the guys I got to play with. Individual awards are a direct result of being a part of some great teams.”
He added, “Tabor College provided an environment where I could grow and mature in my personal walk with Jesus while being surrounded by friends and faculty who sought to do the same. It also helped broaden my horizons for relationships and allowed an opportunity for God to teach and start to reveal his purpose for my life.”