SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –The Evangel University Kinesiology Department presented its 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Awards on Friday, Oct. 21, during the annual Homecoming 2016 Celebration.
There were two Evangel graduates honored, and both happen to be from the Springfield area.
• Dr. Kirt Hartzler, a Willard native, is a 1985 Evangel grad who serves as superintendent of the Union Public Schools in suburban Tulsa, Okla.
• Lindsay (Yates) Clarke, an Ozark native, is a 2011 Evangel grad who serves as manager of partnership marketing for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
“The purpose of this award is to provide recognition for distinctly outstanding alumni of the Kinesiology Department,” said Dr. Keith Hardy, chairman. “Nominees for the award must show current and continued interest in the department and Evangel University, as well as an impact on society and involvement in professional organizations,” he said.
Urban school superintendent
Dr. Kirt Hartzler is a former star basketball player for Evangel. He held the career points record at EU from 1985-1990, and was named the Most Promising Physical Education Graduate in 1985.
Hartzler began working at Union Public Schools, near Tulsa, as a high school social science instructor in 1986. Throughout the years he has served there, he has worn the various hats of coach, high school assistant principal, 8thgrade principal, director of secondary education, superintendent for teaching and learning, and deputy superintendent.
Hartzler was named superintendent of schools in Union in July 2013. The school district currently has 16,000 students, with approximately 52 languages and every possible social demographic represented.
Speaking of his time at Evangel, Hartzler said, “This department and institution will always hold a special place in my heart. I have no doubt I would not be where I am today if it were not for the guidance, support, and quality education that I received while attending EU.”
Hartzler said he living out his calling at a higher level than he ever dared dream as a student.
“All I really wanted to do after I graduated from Evangel was to go and be a teacher and coach and hopefully influence young lives in a positive way,” he said.
He told the students at the ceremony that being a superintendent in an urban school is a very taxing job, but education is a profession of hope. “Our kids need us today more than ever before,” he said.
A self-professed lifelong learner, Hartzler earned his bachelor’s degree from Evangel, his master’s from Northeastern State University, and his doctorate in educational administration from Oklahoma State University.
He is active in church, community and the broader field of education, having served as an adjunct instructor for both Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma.
Kirt met his wife, Susan (Woods ’85), while they were students at Evangel, and together they have three children.
NBA marketing expert
Lindsay (Yates) Clarke played volleyball for two season at Evangel. She earned her bachelor’s degree in recreation with a minor in sport management from EU in 2011 and was recognized as the Outstanding Graduate of the department that year.
Clarke’s dream job was to work in professional sports. Her career path has taken her from the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., where she worked as event coordinator, to the Houston Dynamo as account executive, to the Houston Astros as account manager.
In June, Clarke switched to the basketball arena with a move to Atlanta. She currently holds the position of manager, partnership marketing for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. There, she is responsible for clients such as Bank of America, Verizon, State Farm and Planet Fitness.
Women’s basketball coach Dawn Neal was Lindsay’s academic advisor at Evangel.
“Dawn encouraged me so much,” said Clarke. “She made a plan for me to follow, and she told me, ‘Lindsay you need to stick to this plan and you will make it.’ That day will forever resonate in my mind.”
Clarke told those present that it felt like there was always a team behind her pushing — every teacher, every coach, every staff member. Without them, she said, “I wouldn’t be standing here today. This award is so special to me, because I think that I followed my path, and I’m excited to see where it will continue to take me.”
Lindsay is married to Ryan Clarke and together they have two children.
For additional information on Evangel’s Kinesiology Department, contact Ann Steketee at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7387.
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 17 master’s and doctoral degrees.