KC Sports commission to honor Park coach, Park Hill student

The Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation plans to honor a Park University coach and a senior at Park Hill High School during its annual awards banquet, slated for April 15 at Muehlbach Tower in downtown Kansas City. Park volleyball coach Mike Talamantes will receive the Burns and McDonnell coach of the year award, while Nick Hibbeler will be one of two community spirit award honorees from the KC Sports Commission — a privately funded non-profit group that promotes Kansas City sports and works to attract, retain and facilitate events and organizations in the bi-state area.

Talamantes earned the honor from a list of finalists that included Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost. Talamantes is the third person to receive the award, joining football coaches Bill Snyder (Kansas State) and Adam Dorrel (Northwest Missouri State).

After leading the Park men’s team to a national title in the spring, Talamantes guided the Pirates women to a 40-0 record on the way to an NAIA national championship. They were the only undefeated team at any level of collegiate volleyball this past season.

“I can’t even imagine being mentioned in the same sentence as either of the previous two winners,” Talamantes said, “… but it a great honor not only to be associated with these phenomenal individuals, but also to receive such a prestigious honor.

“2014 was an incredible ride personally and professionally.”

Hibbeler became a national story last year for his inspirational giving while facing his own challenges.

Diagnosed with Stage 2 testicular cancer in 2013, Hibbeler has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and five surgeries yet continues to play soccer at Park Hill and in the high school offseason. Voters selected him as a finalist in USA Today’s Most Inspirational High School Athlete Contest this past spring, but Hibbeler opted to give up his spot to Dom Cooks, a terminally ill basketball player from Washington who died later in the year.

Founded in 1966, the Kansas City Sports Commission claims to have generated more than $750 million to the economy of the metropolitan area.