Ken Kothe, a 1963 graduate of Fergus Falls High School, is one of only a few Minnesota high school athletes to receive MVP awards for the three sports of football, basketball and baseball.
“Head football coach Rocky Elton was an energetic and exceptional coach who encouraged and taught me the techniques of the game,” said Kothe.
He played under two head Otter basketball coaches, Nick Noack and Ken Naffziger. His head baseball coach was John Hermes.
Kothe was a member of the 1961 Otter baseball team that took third at state. A teammate was Barry Johnson, a member of the Fergus Chamber Sports Hall of Fame as are coaches Elton and Hermes.
Kothe played short stop and pitched for the Otters who won Resort Region Conference titles in both 1962 and 1963.
In May 1963 Kothe pitched two games in one day and won both of them. The day game was a one-hitter against Alexandria and in the night game he pitched a three-hitter versus Detroit Lakes.
Against Detroit Lakes in football his senior year, Kothe was injured in the third quarter when a DL player cleated him between the index and middle finger on his left hand.
Elton said, “See the trainer, you’re down for the night.”
The trainer stopped the bleeding and taped Kothe’s hand.
“I begged Coach Elton to put me back in the game. But he said ‘no’ two or three times. Finally, coach Elton agreed and I was back in the game. A Fergus doctor that night sowed 15 stitches. The scar still is visible to this very day.”
That same game Kothe registered 14 tackles. On the recommendation of coach Elton, he made the “WCCO All-State Team of the Week.”
Kothe also played for Fergus Falls American Legion Coach Harley Oyloe, a 1986 charter member of the Chamber Sports Hall of Fame.
“Harley was impressive in stature, was commanding in speech, humble in demeanor and was a true technician of the game,” Kothe said. “He recognized that I couldn’t properly slide into second base, third base or home plate.
“So one night after a game, Harley took me aside and showed me how to slide until I got it right. This improved my game immensely. I thank Coach Oyloe for that.”
Kothe graduated from M State, Fergus Falls, Mn State-Moorhead, and holds a Masters of Divinity Degree. He has served as a minister in the Twin Cities and in Albertville, southeast of St. Cloud. He is a U.S. Army veteran.
He is married to the former Katherine Ann Beamish, a 1964 FFHS graduate and retired Registered Nurse. Their four children, all good athletes in their own right, are Annie, Jacob, Naomi and Rebekah.
Jacob was a wide receiver for future NFL quarterback Kurt Warner at the University of Northern Iowa. Naomi’s son, Isaiah, is currently a wide receiver at UNI. Jacob’s son, Elijah, will play as a wide receiver this fall at San Diego State.
There were 12 children in the Kothe family, six boys and six girls, headed by their mother and father who was a minister like his son, Ken. To date, Ken and seven if his siblings are still living.