K-State prepares one Wildcat couple for success

K-State Sports Communications

Megan and BJ Kissel hold their first child, Carter William Kissel IV on Feb. 7, 2015. Published first with a Tweet by BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter): "#ChiefsKingdom has a new addition. He just came a little earlier than expected. Mom & son are great, healthy." (Photo courtesy of the Kissel family.)

If you ask BJ and Megan Kissel about their days at K-State, you'll get nothing but positive responses about their alma mater.

It's where they met each other, where they met many of their closest friends, where they received their educations and where they fell in love with competing before passionate purple fans.

BJ was a pitcher with the K-State baseball team from 2004-06 while Megan (then Megan Farr) played middle blocker for the Wildcat volleyball squad from 2004-08.

They were good days for the couple, but although the two look back at those days with fondness, they both were faced with and overcame obstacles during their Wildcat careers.

Their paths through K-State were filled with hard work, and, in many ways, helped shape the people they are today.

BJ's Story
It was almost exactly a decade ago - April 3, 2005 - but BJ remembers it like it was yesterday.

Sitting at the bottom of the Big 12 standings, K-State traveled to Austin, Texas, to take on the No. 1 Texas Longhorns, and, despite dropping the first two games of the series, something changed in game three.

In the series finale, K-State pulled off a 5-3 upset at Disch-Falk Field. It was the first time the Bat Cats had ever knocked off a No. 1-ranked team and marked a crucial moment in K-State baseball history.

"Coach (Brad) Hill has said that it was a defining moment for the program's turnaround," explained BJ. "I got to pitch in that game and didn't realize until afterwards in the bus, but that moment is why I transferred to K-State."

BJ was one of two players to transfer from Central Missouri State (now University of Central Missouri) to K-State after Hill took over the program in the summer of 2003. He had redshirted one season and then played in another for Hill at CMSU, where he helped lead the Mules to the 2003 NCAA Division II National Championship.

"I knew it was going to be a challenge," said BJ reflecting back on his decision to transfer to K-State, "but from my point of view, we had just won a national championship at Central Missouri, so we reached the highest goal. For somebody who is pretty competitive, I knew I would have regretted it if I didn't at least try and give it a go at the Division I level."

With hopes and dreams to rebuild a Wildcat baseball program that finished in the bottom half of the Big 12 for six-straight seasons, Hill and his coaching staff, along with Kissel and Central Missouri teammate Steve Murphy, headed for Manhattan.

"I believed in Coach Hill and what he was going to do at K-State," continued BJ. "I knew it was going to take a little time for him to get his guys there and create the culture he wanted."

Once in the Little Apple, things didn't get easier right away for BJ and Murphy. The two, along with their new group of Wildcat teammates, went through a lot together as they helped establish a culture change within the K-State baseball program. BJ said there was plenty of running, conditioning and time spent getting the team to commit to the new coaching style of Hill.

However, regardless of how tough things got, BJ never backed down and never gave up. He displayed a hard-working attitude that even today, nearly a decade later, Hill remembers well.

"BJ is an overachiever," explained Hill. "He's a kid who came to Central Missouri and proved himself. I think people had doubts as to whether or not he was going to be able to pitch for us at Central Missouri, but he came in, did a great job, and then came to K-State. He wanted to follow us, give it a shot, and he did. He was able to pitch for us here. He's just a great guy and you can never count him out."

Megan's Story
Megan was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas. She was a star athlete at Manhattan High School, and, after growing up a K-State fan, she walked on with the K-State volleyball team in 2004.

Though she was small - "barely 5-foot-10 with her shoes on" explained K-State head coach Suzie Fritz - there was no denying she had a strong passion for the game of volleyball.

"Megan, by the pure numbers, was too small to play middle blocker," explained Fritz. "Coming out of Manhattan High School, she was a local product and a tremendous athlete, but undersized in her position. Yet, given those setbacks, she far exceeded all of our expectations as a volleyball player. She was one of the best blockers that we ever had and a lot of it had to do with her athleticism and the fact that she was tremendously disciplined."

Much like BJ proved people wrong throughout his baseball career and competed at a higher level than most thought possible, so did Megan.

"It was a tough first couple of years, I remember that, but it was definitely worth it in the end," explained Megan. "I made some great, lifelong friendships. Every year that I was there we were in the top three of the Big 12, and we went to the NCAA Tournament all but one year. It was just so much fun. I loved playing for Suzie and competing at K-State."

Going from walk-on to team captain by her senior year, Megan had made her name known in the Wildcat record book at the end of her career. In 2007, she led K-State in solo blocks with 14 while her 151 block assists that season still stand as the third-best by a Wildcat in a single season.

"She means lot to us," said Fritz. "A lot of my affection for Megan has to do with the fact that I don't think that she was supposed to have the career that she had here, and she kind of proved everybody wrong. I love it when players do that to us."

A Glimpse Into Their Story
Though BJ and Megan knew each other during their time as student-athletes, it wasn't until the summer before his senior and her junior year that they began talking.

"We knew each other for a while. We would see each other in the weight room or in the ALC (Academic Learning Center), but the first time that we actually met and hung out was at Country Stampede," laughed Megan. "A friend and I stole his front-row seats to Keith Urban - that was the first time we hung out."

Added BJ, "and then I spent a lot of time watching volleyball at K-State."

And the rest is - as they say - history. In July of 2010, the couple was married. They spent four years in Southern California before moving back to the Midwest when BJ took a job as a writer and reporter for the Kansas City Chiefs' website.

"I absolutely love it," said BJ about his new gig with his favorite NFL team. "I grew up a Chiefs' fan in Kansas City; my dad and I always had season-tickets growing up, so this job combines my passion for writing and my love for the Chiefs. It was a perfect fit. It all fell together very well."

Like his and Megan's pasts at K-State, landing a job with the team he grew up loving took a lot of hard work.

"You can just tell when somebody enjoys their job, and he loves it," said Megan. "He started writing for Arrowhead Pride then took a bigger role and started working with SB Nation before he started writing for the Chiefs. So he has kind of the same story with his job writing as I had with K-State - I walked on and worked hard to get a scholarship. His story working his way up to write for the Chiefs is similar. We're really happy."

Now living back in the Midwest, the two have recently added to that happiness as their son and first child, Carter William Kissel IV, was born on Feb. 7, 2015. They said they're both glad to be living so close to family - BJ's in Stilwell, Kansas, and Megan's in Manhattan - during this exciting time of their lives.

"We both have worked really hard to get where we are today, and K-State helped us both in our professional careers," concluded Megan. "Our pasts at K-State really helped us out a lot and taught us that we know we have to work hard for what we have."

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