Collected Wisdom: Van Shea Iven, owner and host of the Oklahoma High School Sports Express

The Oklahoma High School Sports Express ends its eight-plus year run Sunday night with its final episode at 10:30 p.m. on Fox.
by Jacob Unruh Published: May 31, 2014

Van Shea Iven’s career started with a harmless phone call.

Following his freshman year at Oklahoma State, Iven called the KFOR sports department looking to help cover the summer’s All-State games.

What happened next was a comical but key moment in the development of high school sports television coverage in Oklahoma.

Bob Barry Jr. answered the phone and then asked Robert Allen — while Iven could plainly hear him — if a kid can come help him that week or if he needs to get rid of him.

“I heard the whole thing,” said Iven, a Pond Creek native. “Luckily, Robert hem-hawed around and told him to have me there at 9 the next morning.”

That started a long tenure with the station before Iven left to start the Oklahoma High School Sports Express, which ends its eight-plus year run Sunday night with its final episode at 10:30 p.m. on Fox.

Iven has accepted a position with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and he recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his childhood, career and love for high school sports.

I had a great high school experience. We only had football, basketball, baseball and track, but in Pond Creek you did all four, which was fun. You might go to a track meet all day and then leave there at 4 and go play a baseball game in the evening, which was great.

I had no idea if I wanted to be a newspaper writer, if I wanted to be a coach, if I wanted to be a sports information director. I never thought about TV, that wasn’t even an option, and I kind of stumbled into it.

I had no clue that’s what I wanted to do. Still to this day don’t know if that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t know whether to thank Robert Allen and Bob Barry Jr., or to cuss them.

Bob Sr., to get a chance to work with him was fantastic and he was so good to me, just like a second dad. To get a chance to work with “Mr. Sports “in Oklahoma as far as television is concerned and then Bob Barry Jr., it was fantastic.

My favorite thing was always high school because I had such a good experience playing high school sports. I realized when the Hornets came here I could see the writing on the wall. I didn’t know it was going to turn into a full-time franchise, but there were rumblings.

by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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