Carole Hadl Retires From Kansas Athletics

June 4, 2010

In December of 1965 a college-aged Carole Hadl agreed to temporarily answer phones in the Kansas football office while the regular secretary was sick. “She never came back and I never left,” Hadl said. “Forty-five years later I was still answering phones.”

That was until June 1, 2010 when Hadl officially retired from the football office after 45 years of service to the Kansas athletics department.

In her time at KU, Hadl worked under 10 different head coaches spanning from Jack Mitchell to Mark Mangino. She experienced the ups and downs of Kansas football in the past five decades, from one-win seasons and coaching staffs being dismissed to 10 bowl trips and individuals receiving All-America honors.

“The day Jack Mitchell hired me was the beginning of a whole new world for me and my professional career,” Hadl said. “I owe him everything.”

Obviously in her career Hadl saw a number of changes in the department ranging from the number of employees to new technology.

“I started on an old Royal typewriter and ended up with one of the best computers you could have,” she said.

Working in closely inhabited quarters where partitions, rather than walls separated coaches and staff, Hadl grew up quickly at the start of her career.

“My vocabulary increased,” she said. “I was a young 20-year old. There was a video guy who cussed like a sailor.”

Even though Mitchell hired her, Hadl didn’t have long to work with him. He and his staff were let go and Pepper Rodgers took over the program. A couple of years later Pepper Rodgers added Marge Hazlett to the secretarial staff and Hadl and Hazlett would work together until Hazlett retired in 2008.

Hadl laughed while recalling the timing of her and Hazlett’s hirings.

“Marge worked for a month and we went to the Orange Bowl (in the 1968 season) and she thought it was a party place,” Hadl recalled. “I was here for a month and everyone got fired. We had different views on things.”

And while her brother John, five years older, was an All-America football player at Kansas before embarking on a long professional career in the National Football League, Hadl learned a lot more about the game from Rodgers, who coached from 1967-70.

“Pepper came in and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing practice schedule-wise and didn’t fully understand football vocabulary,” Hadl said. “I knew some, but Pepper had me going to practice. I would sit on the bleachers and follow the drills and routine and learned more about the game. Eventually I sat with (then trainer) Dean Nesmith a lot and he taught me how to handle everything off the field – the language, etc…”

Hadl also credited former head coach Don Fambrough and then assistant football and baseball coach Floyd Temple, along with Nesmith as the biggest influences on her. The skills and knowledge she learned from those individuals served Hadl well as she was a fixture through coaching changes.

“I learned to adapt to different personalities and work routines,” Hadl said. “You are doing the same job, but doing it 10 different ways.”

Hadl, a Lawrence native, was glad to be able to find a job in her hometown. She said meeting people from all over the country and developing relationships brought her the most joy in her job. She also spent a lot of time around the players.

“You get closer to some than others,” Hadl said. “Most of the time when I was here, there was no lounge for the players and my office had about eight chairs, so that is where everybody congregated. You heard everything from a death of a parent to a new girlfriend or whatever an 18-year old had going on his life that day. Sometimes it was more information than I wanted.”

When former players return to Lawrence, a visit with Carole Hadl is a must. The well-loved football department fixture is always there for the players. She in turn relishes the visits and the reunions when players from different decades would meet.

“Carole was a big sister, mother, and friend to hundreds and hundreds of Kansas football players,” said former player David Lawrence. “Her secret was just listening to player’s problems. She did not take sides and was never judgmental. Carole loved Kansas football and understood what the student-athletes were going through. She is irreplaceable and will be missed but certainly not forgotten by all who know her.”

And as Hadl eases into retirement, it is not exactly like she planned. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease the week of last year’s Missouri game. She took some time off after the season.

“I took some medical leave and with the change in coaching staff and me not feeling well, it was time for me to let someone else have a turn at a great job,” Hadl explained.

Hadl is fighting the disease and says she is doing everything she wants to do.

“I have great medicine, I am feeling great and physical therapy is going great,” she said this week. “I enjoy reading a lot of books. I always have my phone and my books and I love it.”

For Memorial Day weekend, she and five of her girlfriends gathered as they usually do each year. She is also enjoying an active social life, catching up with her numerous friends.

“It seems like all I do is physical therapy and lunches,” Hadl said. “I never had lunches during football season, so everybody is trying to make up for that and take me to lunch.”

And while she enjoys and deserves a happy retirement, Hadl looks back at her time at KU and realizes she will always be a part of the football program.

“I loved the job and I loved the work I did,” Hadl said. “I felt like I did a good job and I appreciate every opportunity that I was given during the changeovers. I appreciated the years I had here and the people who have passed through my life. I look forward to all of the reunions.”

So do all of the former players and coaches.