1974 Oklahoma Wesleyan University graduate and current OKWU Board Member Roger Skelly’s induction into the OKWU Eagles Sports Hall of Fame was an easy decision for the nominating committee. As a member of the first intercollegiate basketball team at OKWU (1971-72), a former assistant basketball coach (1974-80), and former head baseball coach (1981-83) for the university, Roger has gone above and beyond for Eagles Athletics from his time as a student to the present.
Raised in the Wesleyan Church on a farm in Northern Kansas, Skelly left home initially to work in the racecar business, tuning high-performance cars and drag racing around the Midwest. After attending a revival service during his travels, he recommitted his life to Christ, and then decided to attend Oklahoma Wesleyan (formerly BWC) in the fall of 1970 at the age of 21..
Skelly came to Oklahoma Wesleyan as an act of obedience to God, and discovered that OKWU solidified his beliefs and strengthened his values.
“It was expected that you would go to chapel three times a week, so it was just a way of life for me…my professors were hard, but they were very good, and very concerned about the spiritual life of their [students]. College really grounds you in the things you strongly believe in.”
When reminiscing on his time as a student-athlete, Skelly recalls both the challenges and excitement of that first intercollegiate basketball team. Without a gym on campus at the time, the team held their six a.m. practices at the Boys Club. Their first game was played against College of the Ozarks, and while the Eagles lost, Roger still said “It was fun [because] we played for the love of it.”
He married fellow student, Donna Brown in 1971, and in the time since, built the successful Skelly Homes business, spent 26 years as a high school referee, served as a well-loved auctioneer for many local charity events, and sat on a number of local boards and committees. The Skellys have two adult children, both OKWU graduates, and 14 grandchildren. Today, Roger continues to serve Oklahoma Wesleyan as a board member of 30 years and counting. He calls OKWU basketball games for the radio, and he leads the charge on the re-launch of OKWU’s athletic booster club, the Eagles Club.
When asked what advice he might give his college self today, Roger emphasized the importance of Christian education and being grounded in your biblical beliefs, saying “do it sooner! I spent four years [before college] where I could have been pursuing God wholeheartedly,”
“Roger’s commitment to Christian higher education is second to none,” said Coach Mark Molder (’00). “His love for OKWU and desire to see OKWU succeed is second to none. Roger is an Eagle through and through!”
Register for Homecoming & Family Weekend at www.okwu.edu/homecoming
Interview by Blythe Freshwater (Class of 2020)