Profiles In K-State Fandom – Tom Billings

Profiles In K-State Fandom – Tom Billings

The 10th installment of “Profiles in K-State Fandom” features Tom Billings! Tom is the creator and administrator of the largest Facebook group of K-State fans, “The K-State Family.” He is also the Co-President of the Salina Area Catbackers. Tom has his own “K-State family,” and I am sure you will enjoy learning a little bit more about them and Tom….

JM: Tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born/where did you grow up and how did you become such a huge K-State fan?

TB: I was born in Osborne, Kansas in 1972. Grew up in Downs, Kansas where some of my family still lives. I am a child of the 80’s so I grew up in a time where KSU’s football program was mostly nonexistent. When I was in high school I attended a couple of Band Days games with our school’s marching band and I also went with our football team to see KSU play Nebraska in ’87 or 88′. Don’t remember what year exactly, but what I remembered most of that day besides the butt kicking we took from them was the amount of Nebraska fans in the stadium. That really ticked me off being from Kansas. I did not understand how that could happen. My older brother also decided to come to K-State, so I really started to become a fan around that time in the late 80’s. Then of course Coach Snyder came in 1989 and the rest is history. Being at KSU during the rise of the program was a special time in my fandom. After my Senior year in high school in 1991 I came to KSU. Was hooked on football, bought my first set of season tickets that fall, and enjoyed seeing the program taken to new heights.

JM: Did you attend K-State? Did you graduate? What years did you attend?

TB: I went to KSU from 1991-1994, the first time majoring in Criminal Justice. Life issues happened, which sent me back home to Downs for a year in 1994. I actually left there after a few months and, later in 1995, I went to Fort Hays, Got a job at Walmart in Hays and got married to my first wife. Manhattan was calling me back though so we moved from Hays back to Manhattan in the summer of 1996. I attended KSU again for three more semesters (1996-1997) until we started having kids (two girls) and I then decided I needed to raise them and spend more time with them, so I worked back in those days at Walmart full-time while I started to move into the management ranks in the company. I ended up not graduating from KSU, but I still regret it. I at least got to be there for my family and take care of them. I have always wanted to go back but it just didn’t happen.

JM: Tell me a little bit about how you came to the decision to attend K-State.

TB: Mostly I attended because of those games I went to while I was in high school, as well as my older brother showed me around Manhattan and campus many times. I even went to class with him a few times. We have some family that lived in Manhattan all my life, so visiting in the summer and seeing Tuttle Creek and the surrounding area was always fun as a kid. I guess mainly it got into my blood at an early age. Love Manhattan very much.

JM: Are you married? Kids?

TB: Yes. I am currently married to my second wife, Nicole, for the past 21 years. We have five girls (two from my previous marriage) and three girls together. They are Ashley, 26, Katelyn, 24, Emily, 18, Haley, 16 and Riley, 14. Always an adventure in my house, let me tell ya.

JM: Are they K-State fans as well?

TB: Yes, they all are. My oldest daughter graduated from K-State in education and is now a teacher in Concordia. The rest of my girls and my wife all love joining me for games whether it is basketball or football.

JM: What do you do for a living?

TB: I spent 25 years with Walmart and helped manage six different stores in Kansas and Nebraska over that stretch before I left Walmart in late 2019. I spent a little time off before I was recruited by Tractor Supply Company to help run the store in Salina and now I am currently the store manager in Ellsworth, Kansas. Retail Management is very challenging but I enjoy being a customer servant and helping customers with their everyday needs. I have made a lot of friends and connections over the years being a manager.

JM: What’s your favorite restaurant or hangout when you’re in Manhattan?

TB: We live in Salina, Kansas, so just a short drive to the Little Apple. We love The Chef, Noodles and Company, any place in Aggieville really before games, and Little Apple Brewing Company.

JM: Do you have a favorite sport? Favorite K-State team?

TB: Football 100% is first followed by Men’s and Women’s Basketball.
Favorite teams-
Football: The 1998 and the 2003 teams by far are my favorite teams but 2012 and 2022 are up there as well.
Basketball: 1987-1988, 2007-2008, 2018-2019 for the men and 2008-09 and 2023-24 for the women.

JM: Do you have season tickets? If so, which sports?

TB: We only buy football season tickets from year to year and just buy basketball tickets individually for the men and the women games when we go. Being in Salina, it is hard to get to so many basketball games. We also go to three or four BatCat games every year as well.

JM: Do you travel to K-State away games?

TB: We have been to some. Unfortunately, with most Bowl games being in December it is hard to get away when you work retail management. Busiest time of the year for us. I have, however, been to the Alamo Bowl once, been to Nebraska, Oklahoma State (loved Stillwater), KU, and went to Vaderbilt in 2017. We are planning a trip next year to Arizona for one of the games there since my wife has family there.

JM: Do you have a favorite away game place or story to tell?

TB: I would say Stillwater. Just a fantastic place. They were very welcoming to us. Nashville was a complete blast, spent some time seeing the sites and attractions and time on Broadway.

JM: Any negative experiences?

TB: None that come to mind, but the most of the Nebraska fans were fairly rude to us and that’s with my wife being eight months pregnant.

JM: What is your favorite K-State sports memory?

TB: Beating Nebraska in 1998 and the dismantling of OU in 2003 at the Big 12 Championship game. Best two games I ever saw.

JM: Who is your favorite K-State player(s), past or present?

Michael Bishop, Chad May, Darren Sproles, Mark Simoneau, Jordy Nelson, Tyler Lockett, Collin Klien, Dalton Risner, Deuce Vaughn, Ayoka Lee, Peyton Williams, Michael Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Steve Henson, Dean Wade, Markquis Nowell, I could name them all day. We have been very fortunate over the years to have this level of talent in Manhattan.

JM: Who is your favorite K-State coach(es), past or present?

TB: First and foremost Bill Snyder. Chris Klieman, Frank Martin, Jerome Tang, Jack Hartman, and Lon Kruger as well.

JM: If you had to guess, what percentage of your wardrobe is purple?

TB: I would say about 40%. I have a lot, mostly Bowl shirts, several hats, and I have started to add some lavender items to the mix now.

JM: What does the “K-State Family” mean to you?

TB: I think it means all of us that have invested so much time in Kansas State University will have each other’s and our student’s backs no matter what. We are a community of people who share a love for all things purple. We all bleed purple and we stick together in wins and losses and our support never waivers. It truly is the best part of being a K-State fan.

JM: You are the administrator/creator of the “K-State Family” group on Facebook. Tell me a little bit about how that started and how it’s going. It appears to be the largest K-State group out there.

TB: Well that is kind of a long story. We just eclipsed our 10th year as a group last August, Been an exciting and fun ride for sure.

I started The K-State Family group on Facebook on August 31st, 2013. The day after we lost that nail biter to Chris Klieman and North Dakota State in 2013. I was wanting to talk about the game with fellow fans. We had just won the Big 12 title the year before and I was depressed that we had lost to a very good FCS school at home (they did win 4 National titles in a row after all). We had just moved back to Kansas and we didn’t know many people in Salina that were fans, so I started this group to talk about KSU football primarily with friends and family. I originally called it “The K-State Bloggers” page (bad name I know). I added about 20 people and was pretty content with where we were for membership at that point. Anyway, someone kept sharing some of our conversations to some of the other KSU pages and the next thing I knew I had over 200 members within the first 6 months. So when the 2014 season started, things really took off. I changed the name to The K-State Family. Now, after 10 years, we are just short of 35k members and as they say the rest is history! In that time we also have accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tick Tok. Come see us!!

It has been the most fun and rewarding experience I have ever had for sure, I am most proud of how we helped launch the K-State Foundation’s campaign for the new Dr. Tracz Band Hall at Memorial Stadium on all our social media outlets. Being there the day of the dedication was very cool. We have also been able to help the K-State Johnson Cancer Research Center a couple of times to help raise funds for cancer research. Meeting group members, players, and coaches, being beside Coach Snyder on the sidelines for a game in 2014, and meeting Eric Stonestreet has been so much fun and a joy for sure. We are so happy to be a part of this Family. And thank you all who are members as well! We couldn’t do it without you.

JM: Anything else you’d like to add?

TB: Thank you for this opportunity and most importantly, GO CATS!

JM: Tom sent a lot of pictures! Check them out in the slideshow!

Follow Tom here: and join the K-State Family Facebook group here:
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If you would like to nominate someone to be featured in “Profiles in K-State fandom,” please message me and I’ll reach out to them. Thanks!

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