AL FRAME AND GRANT COOKSON AT ONE OF THE LABOR DAY REUNIONS.
It is without a question that the term "student-athlete" is changing. Most people who compete at the collegiate level nowadays are putting more stress into the "athlete" aspect of the term than the "student" component, as many of them leave college early without ever graduating. This is why Allen Frame is not like most people.
"When we went to school, everyone on the team graduated," Frame said in a phone interview. "No one left early."
The former cross country star was an academically brilliant student, ranking in the top five of his class. He started his academic career strong at the University of Kansas in 1952, as he came to college with the Summerfield Scholarship underneath his belt. This is an award that is given to only 10 students throughout the entire state of Kansas.
"Academics are important to me. Being good academically is more important to me, and my family, than the athletics," Frame said.
Now a semi-retired lawyer, who has practiced general law throughout his post athletic career, he currently resides on a farm in Kinsley, Kansas. Frame says education is an aspect of life that he takes great satisfaction in, something that he has passed onto his two boys and three girls, who now are all very successful in their respective fields.
The alumnus of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity is proud to have raised such great children stating, "All of my children have graduated from college. We all take pride in our work and our academic programs."
Although he was an All-American honoree in 1954 and 1955, Frame's athletic success never changed his character. In 1956, he was elected the President of his senior class, and even today, he still takes responsibility to stay involved with his former classmates.
"I have been one of the people in charge of organizing reunions, which is something I really like. I enjoyed being the Student Body President," Frame said.
As an active person outside of his sport, being Student Body President is what helped spark his interest in politics and law to become the successful lawyer he is today. However, prior to him returning to Kansas for law school, Frame served in the United States Army for two years.
Even though Frame claims academics is something his family is very proud of, his wife Sally, who he first met on a blind date during his senior year at KU, displays the love and compassion she has towards her husband in a rather special way.
"My wife, on occasion, will take my (national championship) medal and wear it around her neck when we go out sometimes," Frame said with a chuckle.
In 1954, Frame won the individual cross country national championship, as he ran the four-mile course in 19:54.2, which was the fourth-fastest time at that point in history. Finishing his career as a member of three Big Seven Conference championship-winning teams and two individual Big Seven Championships, Frame claims winning the individual national title was one of the most exciting moments of his life.
"I was thrilled to death when I won the national championship. It was definitely one of the high points of my career," Frame said.
Like many other cross country runners chose to do during that era, Frame found success in a different sport when he decided to join the track and field team in 1953. As a track and field runner, Frame won a total of six Big Seven Conference championships: four indoor (1954, two-mile run; 1955-56, mile run; 1956, 88-yard run) and two outdoor (1955, mile run; 1955, two-mile run). In 1955, he also placed third at the outdoor NCAA Championships.
The historical track that used to be around Memorial Stadium became a second home to him and his other teammates because of the great moments they all shared. When they heard the news that the track was going to be removed, Frame and his former teammates were upset at first, but after seeing the new track and field facility at Rock Chalk Park, they had a change of heart.
"There were a lot of great memories that took part on that track, so hearing it was going to be removed from the stadium was disappointing, but the new park is a great facility with first-class equipment," Frame said.
Though the athletics success Frame, and his friends, such as Tom Rupp, obtained is hard to match, the brotherhood and friendship they forged during their collegiate careers and still share today is unimaginable. Every year, for the past 12 years, various members from both the track and field and cross country teams from the 1950s have gathered for weekend reunions, just before the Kansas Relays.
"We enjoy every minute we're with each other," Frame says about meeting up with old teammates. "As the years go by, the memories get better."
In spite of all the success he and his teammates had on the track and cross-country course, it was their coach, Bill Easton, who made sure they became the talented athletes they were.
"He knew how to develop all kinds of runners," Frame explained. "We got better because he was such a good coach and didn't put up with any sass. The amount of respect we have for him is tremendous. He made me the successful track athlete I am. I give him all the credit in the world."
Student-athletes today have a tendency to focus more on the "athlete" than the "student" which is why many are leaving college early without ever earning a degree. Not Allen Frame. Frame is the epitome of what student-athletes should be. The standard that he has set both academically and athletically may never be matched, but his encouraging, yet humbled personality will forever and always make him part of the Kansas Athletics tradition.