Even though we can all agree up-front that it's not a contest, if it was 2002 grad Rich Mayson would definitely be towards the top of the pack after earning 10 varsity letters in four years at Mexico.
This includes three each in football and basketball under head coaches Todd Beck and Scott Floyd, as well as four while competing for Bulldogs varsity track and field coach Mitch Ridgway.
"I'm very proud to call Mexico home. I put in shameless plugs for Mexico as often as I can," said Mayson. "My parents both still live in Mexico and I try to get home. I'm at a school that hasn't seen the level of success in football that we'd like in recent years, but I am trying to do my best to get us back going in the right direction. I speak to Steve Haag often for ideas that I can implement here. Steve was a member of the coaching staff when I was playing at Mexico, and a great friend and mentor."
As for where athletics has taken Mayson in life, currently he's entering his third year as the varsity football coach at Ottumwa High School in Iowa. He's also a Dropout Prevention Officer during the day, where he tries to coordinate and interact with at-risk students, as well as track the attendance of individuals legally required to participate in the educational process.
"I obviously lead our varsity program, but also directly oversee all other levels of football, from sophomore and freshman teams to eighth and seventh grade programs," Mayson said. "We also have a youth football league that I act as 'CEO' of, and that is for fifth and sixth graders. This year we are adding a Flag Football level for third and fourth graders."
When it came time for Mayson to graduate from the Bulldogs, his options were highlighted by Northwest Missouri, Central Missouri and a chance to walk on at the University of Missouri. In the end the Mexico product chose Truman State, though, mostly because of how at-home he felt while on-campus.
"My sister was a student there and she had a great experience, and I had a good feel for the campus and the town before ever stepping foot as a prospective student," said Mayson. "I also had a lot of interest in their MAE program, in which a student can roll right into earning their Master's degree in education and it generally doesn't take as long. I went to Truman as a football player primarily, but I was also a member of the Track team there for two years."
Even though being a middle school track coach is just one more aspect of his previous life that's mirrored in his present existence, it was while playing on the collegiate gridiron that he faced one of his more daunting challenges. This meant going all-in with a coaching staff and philosophy that was being cast aside just two years later, leaving he and his teammates to ask themselves one very tough question.
"Several of my teammates considered leaving rather than play for a staff that didn't recruit us. Ultimately everyone stayed," Mayson said. "We struggled in the win column during those first two seasons with the new staff. This is when the 'arms race' in the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Association conference was really heating up, and Truman was lagging. As a Senior we had a winning record again and that was really fun. Unfortunately Truman left that conference a couple years later."
Once Mayson earned his bachelor degree from Truman State, he went on to become a graduate assistant coach at Northwest Missouri. In those two years he was working with the wide receivers, the squad lost in the national title game twice.
"I was a full-time coach at Montana Tech, MacMurray College, Hastings College, and Iowa Western Community College, where we went to the Championship game again," said Mayson. "Ultimately, I had the opportunity to take over the program where I am now, Ottumwa High School in Iowa, which is closer to family on both sides and gave me the chance to settle down a bit."