TOPEKA — Ted Lasso, a fictional soccer coach from a TV show of the same name, on Thursday beat out University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self and Wichita State women’s basketball coach Keitha Adams for the “significant, preeminent and definitely not made up” Kansas Coach of the Year award.
Gov. Laura Kelly joined in the April Fool’s Day fun by bestowing the award upon Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park. She credited Lasso’s exemplary leadership leading a fictional Wichita State Shockers football program to its first-ever national championship before heading to England to coach AFC Richmond, another made-up team.
Wichita State football played its final season in 1986.
Add the award to a long list for Lasso and Sudeikis these past few weeks, including a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy television series and Writers Guild of America recognition for best new series and best comedy.
“Coach Lasso’s optimism in the face of adversity, his commitment to teamwork and his efforts to find empathy for and common ground with everyone he crosses paths represent what it means to be ‘Kansas nice,’ ” Kelly proclaimed.
Among those just missing the cut for the award were Self, Adams, KU women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider and WSU men’s coach Isaac Brown, Kelly said. In the official proclamation, she encouraged Kansans to congratulate Lasso via a Twitter page created for the character.
— Governor Laura Kelly (@GovLauraKelly) April 1, 2021
“Ted Lasso,” a 2020 show streaming on Apple TV+, was developed by Sudeikis and others from a character he first portrayed in a series of promos for NBC Sports coverage of Premier League soccer. Sudeikis said the character for which the show is named is based in part on Donnie Campbell, his basketball coach at Shawnee Mission West High School.
Sudeikis also attended Fort Scott Community College on a basketball scholarship for a short time, before leaving to pursue a career in comedy.
“This proclamation from the great state of Kansas may have been issued on April 1, but you betchya it’s already hangin’ on my fridge with my Topeka Zoo magnet!” Lasso said in a tweet.
The Kansas-inspired coach is known in the show for saying “success is not about wins and losses. It’s about helping these young folks be the best versions of themselves.”
A second season of the show is expected later this year.