Sometimes in the world of athletics, the term "student athlete" can be over used – but never in the case of Kansas City Kansas Community College sophomore Joe Lendway.
A Lansing High School graduate, Joe Lendway is the epitome of a student athlete. Team captain and a two-year starter on the Blue Devil basketball team, Lendway is also Vice-President of the KCKCC Student Senate – an achievement never previously reached by a Blue Devil athlete.
"I thought he was a good fit to represent our program and the athletic department," said head basketball coach Kelley Newton, who encouraged Lendway to run for the Student Senate. "He has what I call all of the 'ables' – reliable, dependable, responsible, accountable – all those good qualities."
"Coach talked about it being good for everyone," said Lendway, who highlighted his campaign by making Kool-Aid and handing out candy. "I destroyed the field," he grins.
As Vice-President, Lendway presided over the "Passing of the Torch" at the annual Candlelighting ceremonies. He's also taken part in a host of other Student Senate activities including the annual Breakfast with Santa, the Kids Halloween Party, pancake breakfast, the door decorating contest at Christmas, study hall and Movie Night.
"He's a great motivator for other students," says Director of Student Activities Andrica Wilcoxen. "Not only does he motivate others to help in activities, he creates excitement in the Student Senate area and is always doing something to get others involved on campus. And if a student is down, he does something to get them laughing, singing songs or raps."
But it's not just a one-way street. "Being involved in Student Senate has challenged him in areas he may have otherwise shied away from," says Wilcoxen. "For instance, he went before the Board of Trustees to present the some of the activities of the Student Senate and is always active in Student Senate meetings."
A regular at many home athletic events, Lendway literally threw himself into campus life in his freshman year, taking part in halftime contests during women's basketball games and other activities. During a January home game this year, Lendway and teammates Xavier Gaona and Stephen Moore cartwheeled, did the wave and saluted every made free throw.
"It's fun here," says Lendway, who as a senior helped lead Lansing to the Kansas Class A state basketball championship with a 25-0 record. A starting left tackle on the football team and a member of the JV golf team, Lendway chose KCKCC over Jayhawk basketball rivals Cowley College and Highland and a couple of football offers. "I liked football but loved basketball so it wasn't a difficult choice."
He picked KCKCC for several reasons. "When I visited it felt like home," he said. "Being not far from home and my first year, I thought it was the perfect fit. Also, one of the reasons was I wanted to play with Clay Young (now a member of the KU basketball team). We played a couple of games together but then he got hurt."
As a freshman, the 6-6 Lendway finished second in scoring with 13.2 points a game and led the Blue Devils (23-9) in rebounding (5.1), field goal shooting percentage (5.99) and blocked shots. This year, he's again second in scoring (11.2) and leads in rebounding (6.3) heading into a big home game with No. 2 ranked Johnson County Saturday afternoon, Jan. 16.
"Numbers do not do justice to what he means to this team," says Newton. "He's our rock. Definitely not a vocal leader, he's nevertheless the leader of our team, one of those guys others can look up to because of his dependability and character and all the other reliable things coaches love."
While Lendway's scoring average is down slightly this season, there's a reason. "We're a lot deeper, especially up front, so we are able to spread responsibilities around a little more," said Newton. "Joe is right where he's supposed to be."
"I think we have more talent this year," says Lendway, who relishes the opportunity to lead the Blue Devils. "I'm more of an action person than vocal; actions speak louder than words. My role is to help everyone as much as possible."
The Blue Devils head into Jayhawk Conference play with an 11-6 record after coming within one game of the national tournament during a 23-9 season in 2014-15.
A member of the Math Club while in high school, Lendway is majoring in science. "I'm undecided, maybe law enforcement," says Lendway. The son of Krista and Paul Hudalla, he has a younger sister, Toni.
Basketball definitely is in his future. "He's getting some interest and with conference play starting, this is the time it will really pick up," says Newton. "He played in the Mullen Showcase which will help. He's going to get a chance to play at the next level."
A chance to play with former Lansing High School teammate Clay Young (left), now a member of the Kansas basketball team, was one of the factors in Joe Lendway's decision to attend KCKCC. Unfortunately, Young suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the 2014-15 season. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)