Thanks for the memories: Roy Pickerill ’75

Your love for the college is evident in all you do, in how you approach your responsibilities and how you relate to the Kentucky Wesleyan family. How did you get here in the first place?

“I grew up in Louisville and graduated from Western High School, where I was the basketball manager.

Two of my high school teachers graduated from Wesleyan, and they encouraged me to attend here. I received a basketball manager scholarship all four years at Wesleyan, and I was a physical education major.”

RoyandMargaretTell us about Margaret, your wife of 41 years!

“She grew up in Pittsburgh. During those years, the College had a full-time recruiter in the Northeast and that is how she found out about Wesleyan. We both arrived here in the fall of 1971. On our first date, we attended a presentation by Frank Mankiewicz in the Quonset hut auditorium. Mankiewicz was very close to the Kennedy family and was Robert Kennedy’s press secretary during the 1968 campaign. We were married on Oct. 17, 1975, in Tapscott Chapel, the second couple to marry there. The chapel was new then and the fumes from the new purple carpet made our eyes burn, so everyone cried at our wedding!

Margaret is retired after 28 years as an elementary school teacher.

What other memorable moments of your college days do you recall?

“I think of all the friends I made during those years, all kinds of people from everywhere. I wish we could all get together again. That would really mean a lot to me.

So many people on the faculty and staff had an impact on me. They were so passionate about the College and about the students. Their passion and dedication and leadership skills made an impression on me that changed my life. I look back and those memories mean so much to me because they cared about each of us.  We weren’t just a large group of students to them; we were individuals.”

Who in particular served as a mentor to you?

“There were so many, and they all meant something special to me.

James McIntosh was the chair of the physical education department. He was from Scotland, and I loved hearing about his life there.  He had been a weight lifter in the Olympics. He took time with each student and worked with us individually. He was an absolute joy to be around.

Dr. Bob Darrell taught me how to write. He founded the writing workshop here. It was unique at the time and received national recognition.

Dr. John Combs gave me an appreciation of literature and the historical aspects of literature. When I visited Canterbury Cathedral, I thought of Dr. Combs and what he had taught me. That means a lot to me.

Dr. Bob Dalzell was my professor for human anatomy. When I struggled, he sought me out and made sure I understood.

Bob Jones was the athletic director and head basketball coach. He took me under his wing and gave me responsibilities a student didn’t usually get. He was best man at our wedding.

Joel Utley was sports information director when I was a student. He was very passionate about the College and gave me research projects I really enjoyed. Through his influence, I became interested in sports information, and I still enjoy researching sports topics today.

Dr. Magnuson and Dr. Connor were my professors for general chemistry. I remember so well that they wanted me to succeed. They wouldn’t give up on me, even when I was about to give up on myself.”

Tell us about your professional career.

“I have worked here since I graduated in 1975. But I need to correct that. I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life. I’ve been living my dream.

I became the assistant sports information director after graduation, and I became the sports information director on July 1, 1988. I was also the assistant director of public relations for a number of years and was the director of public relations for two years.”

What memories stand out to you over these 41 years?

“It means so much to me when former student-athletes return to campus and tell me I made a difference in their lives.

I love attending reunions and anniversaries with our former student-athletes. I see them well up with emotion, and they can’t speak – because the College means so much to them. It is magical for me to see the looks on their faces as they try to speak and can’t. They say more in those moments than they could say with words.

Of course, the national championships in basketball which I attended: 1973, 1987, 1990, 1999 and 2001.

Seeing our story on national TV during the 1987 tournament.

Corey Crowder signing an NBA contract with the Utah Jazz.”

What is your favorite place on campus?

“I love the whole campus, but I will have to say the Winchester Center. It was so exciting to watch it being built. I was a part of the process of naming it for our Winchester alumni, and they mean so much to me.”

What are your passions and interests outside of your life at Wesleyan?

“Division II basketball.

I serve as media coordinator for the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship, and I serve on the selection committee for the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame.”

Does Margaret like basketball?

“She likes Wesleyan basketball!

She also likes the Pittsburgh Steelers. When she was growing up, her dad put a Steelers’ flag in the front yard on game days!”

We talked about the past. What do you see in Wesleyan’s future?

“I see a tremendous future for our College! President Darrell is creative and innovative and quite a leader. I’m honored that I can serve the College I love in a new way beginning in mid-August. This is an exciting time.”

Thanks for the memories, Roy! In living your dream, you have served your alma mater with distinction.

Pickerill has done much for KWC

Retiring SID takes a lot of memories with him

BY MARK MATHIS Messenger-Inquirer

Roy Pickerill will retire soon as the only full-time sports information director at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

That means ‘Pick’ will move to a new office before August 15, his last official day as KWC’s SID.

He has a lot of KWC memorabilia in the old office, including letter sweaters, signed basketballs, football helmets, a full collection of KWC’s eight NCAA Division II national championship rings.

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” Pickerill said wistfully when looking at the rings in his office last week.

Of course, Pickerill isn’t retiring entirely from KWC.

He will continue representing KWC as a Special Assistant for College Relations. He will be acting as an ambassador for KWC. Most who love KWC couldn’t think of a better role as Pickerill heads toward “retirement.”

KWC president Bart Darrell, vice president for advancement Tom Keith and KWC athletics director Rob Mallory put the new role together for Pickerill.

“What many may not realize or know is the many other Wesleyan initiatives and projects in which Roy has been an integral part over his forty plus years at the college,” Darrell said in a KWC release announcing Pickerill’s retirement.

“They wanted me to stay on,” Pickerill said. “I know who the alumni are.”

He has seen thousands of athletic alumni produced at KWC, and when he put up a Facebook post that he was retiring this summer, the response was overwhelming from former athletes and coaches.

A lot of those messages thanked Pickerill for being a mentor or a friend during their time at KWC.

“Corey Crowder, when he was named national player of the year and made the Utah Jazz, he still tells me that I was the reason he became national player of the year,” Pickerill said. “Obviously, Corey did it all himself. All I did was get the publicity out on him.”

Pickerill has tried to get the publicity out on a lot of athletes through the years, and many former KWC players have told him how much they valued their relationship.

“He takes a personal interest in the athletes,” said Joel Utley, the forever radio voice of KWC men’s basketball. “He goes above and beyond the call of duty, he’s involved with the men’s and women’s teams. He stays in touch with graduates. Even before days of Facebook, Roy would know where they were living, what they were doing.

“It’s not a job with Roy. There’s no way to put a clock on how much he does.”

The 63-year-old Pickerill first came to KWC in August, 1971, on a basketball manager scholarship offered by former coach Bob Daniels. Utley got Pickerill started down the SID path in 1974-75. Pickerill was a full-time equipment manager starting in 1975.

“Joel Utley got me hooked on sports information when he asked me to do some research to help update the record section in our program,” Pickerill said. “From then, all I wanted to be was the sports information director at Kentucky Wesleyan.”

Pickerill was officially named to the post on July 1, 1988, when then coach Wayne Chapman called him into an athletics department office “and told me ‘you’re the new sports information director.’ “

Of course, Pickerill continued as equipment manager and in other capacities where he was needed in the athletics department.

Since that time, and way before then, too, Pickerill has been putting together game notes, press releases, keeping up with statistics, running game management, and a whole lot of other things to ‘get the publicity out.’

Game notes and game reports that Pickerill and others have posted on KWC’s athletics website, have become information pipelines for parents of athletes.

“Parents eat that stuff up, fans eat it up,” Pickerill said.

He has made it more than a life’s work to make sure KWC’s Panthers have always represented.

“No one has done more to make this department what it is today,” Mallory said in the KWC release. “On a personal level, his willingness to share his time and knowledge was invaluable to me in my first year as Athletic Director. All of us in the athletic department will miss Roy’s daily presence, but we are thrilled that he is remaining with the college and will continue do what he has always done, pour his heart and soul into making his alma mater the best it can be.”

Pickerill was asked to put together a short list of the most memorable things he’s been part of while pushing the KWC name forward all these years.

His top memory was being named KWC’s sports information director in the first place.

“It’s what I wanted to be, and I’ve been living a dream ever since,” Pickerill said. “These are not ranked in any particular order, but I’d say being named SID is obviously the most important.”

The NCAA championships Pickerill has been a part of have been pretty significant in his eyes.

“Being part of a national championship basketball team when I was a basketball manager in 1973, that was special, and little did I know I’d be a part of four more national championships,” PIckerill said. “Being a part of five national championships? Holy mackerel.”

Pickerill was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 1999. CoSIDA is the national college sports information association that includes all sizes of colleges and universities.

He was also inducted into KWC’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012, as well as the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

“When I got in this business, I didn’t think about national championships or being inducted in Hall of Fames,” Pickerill said. “I’ve just been very blessed to have the career I have.”

Pickerill has been the media coordinator for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight National Championship Tournament for the last 23 years. He will continue in that role. Pickerill has been named Sports Information Director — Emeritus at KWC and maintain his current regional and national professional affiliations.

“Getting that phone call from the NCAA asking me to lead the media operation for the national championship, that meant a lot,” Pickerill said.

Former coaches and players coming back to campus, and setting up some of the reunions for major KWC teams, also made Pickerill’s most memorable list.

“When players and coaches come back to campus and they seek you out, or they send you a Facebook message, you know what you meant to them,” Pickerill said.

During the 1993 Gathering of Champions event, George Tinsley was the captain of the 1969 national championship team and he was asked to speak on behalf of that group.

“He couldn’t speak, the emotions of what it meant for him to come back and be a part of that, you know how much it meant to them,” Pickerill said.

Being asked to serve on the small college basketball Hall of Fame selection committee in the last year has been an important milestone.

Lastly, among the most memorable things for Pickerill has been the friends in both the media and the SID world that he’s made along the way.

“I’ve got great friends across the nation,” Pickerill said. “I feel like I’m working with friends.”

Utley is one long-time colleague who knows how valuable Pickerill’s friendship and connections with KWC have been.

“He’s put Kentucky Wesleyan on the map in other ways, it’s unbelevable the contacts he has,” said Utley, who was recently inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. “I would not have been elected to the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame if not for Roy and his contacts.

“With Roy, it’s just amazing, he is totally, totally, totally dedicated to Kentucky Wesleyan.”