Fans, Alumni, Friends, Players Enjoy Homecoming to Its Fullest
Artist’s reception, Hall of Fame banquet, tailgate activities all surge in participation for BVU's 2021 Homecoming.
Let the Buena Vista University Homecoming 2021 celebration go down as the weekend of full houses.
The celebration started with a reception attended by an estimated 150 persons who celebrated the work of 2010 graduate Andre D. Wagner, the nationally acclaimed street photographer and monthlong BVU Artist in Residence who capped his stay by opening “Andre D. Wagner: Reflections in Storm Lake” at the BVU Art Gallery.
Homecoming ’21 transitioned into the BVU Athletics Hall of Fame banquet which played out before 140 guests and honorees in Siebens Forum. Eric Bertelsen ’10 (track and field and football), Margo (Muhlbauer) Hansen ’10 (basketball), Mike Schimp ’86 (wrestling), and Ben Smith ’01 (track and field and football) joined the 1985-86 wrestling team in taking their respective places among BVU greats in the Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I am so indebted to my teammates, my coaches, my family, and to BVU,” said Smith through tears in his acceptance speech. “I have to thank Eric (Bertelsen) for my tears, because he got the waterworks started in his speech tonight. We’re so grateful for everything the University has done.”
Wrestling teammates and supporters from as far away as Washington State and California dined, laughed, and shared stories throughout the banquet and the weekend. Craig Hanson ’87, an All-American at heavyweight for the Hall of Fame team, noted it was his first visit to campus since the day he graduated. The computer science major and academic All-American laughed and said he drove west from Storm Lake without a job that May afternoon some 34 years ago and soon landed in his career within the Silicon Valley. Since that time, he’s been a part of two tech start-ups that became publicly traded. His work has taken him around the world and back. Over the weekend, he was simply grateful to be back on the sunny shores of Storm Lake witnessing a 50-7 football victory by the Beavers.
“I headed west and have enjoyed a wonderful career in something I love doing,” Hanson said, noting how the lessons involving hard work and adjustment were taught in great measure by his coaches, the late Jim Hershberger (football) and Al Baxter (wrestling) at BVU.
“I also had incredible teammates, guys who kept me grounded whenever some feelings of self-doubt or anxiety tried to get the better of me,” said Hanson, a native of Eagle Grove.
As Hanson spoke, he tapped his classmate, Doug Davidson ’87, on the shoulder and thanked him for being a steadying influence on the 1986 wrestling team. Davidson, according to Baxter, was the epitome of a team-first student-athlete, an unsung hero of sorts that dotted the lineup of 39 collegians on the wrestling roster.
“Doug Davidson, Ty Seaman, Dave Jordan…the list goes on and on, guys who went into that wrestling room each day with the mission of making the starters in our lineup the very best they could be,” Baxter said. “It was the true definition of a team.”
Bertelsen, Smith, and Hansen each had members of the teams they starred on join them in the gala on Friday evening. Bertelsen also offered heartfelt praise to BVU Life Trustee/alum Dennis Young ’65 for his constant work and support on behalf of the track and field program and the University.
“Dennis Young traveled everywhere, from Rice (University) in Texas to meets in Florida, Ohio, to Ohio again, and to Wisconsin,” Bertelsen said. “The guy was at every meet. Forever and ever, I’ll cherish that.”
To stay with the BVU Athletics theme on Homecoming, the ever-popular student lip-sync competition in Siebens Fieldhouse gave way to the royal coronation where wrestler/soccer player Brandon Foster accepted the king’s crown as Sydney McClaren, a starter for the Beaver volleyball team donned the queen’s tiara.
Saturday started bright and crisp as 50 prospective students traveled to campus for BVU Admissions Fall Visit Day. One of the earliest arrivals, Lauren Ingram, of Mantorville, Minn., talked about majoring in psychology and a fine arts discipline, such as graphic design, with Drs. Wind Goodfriend, Professor of Experimental Psychology, and Andrea Frantz, Professor of Digital Media, two professors who will lead a group of students to Ireland in the coming years.
Ingram, by chance, has been in Ireland, joined by her father, Dr. Cory Ingram, Faculty and Medical Director of Hospice and Palliative Care at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Ingram, who dabbles in black-and-white photography, traced his avocation back to his time as a high school student in Grinnell, shooting and developing film for the late John Beemer, who served as Editor at the Grinnell Register. Beemer, ironically, was the father of Frantz.
“What a wonderful connection we’ve made,” Frantz said to Ingram. “My father loved you and the work you did as a teen saved him on numerous occasions.”
BVU wrestlers took to the mat outdoors in holding their morning workout at the base of the Victory Arch in the center of campus on Saturday morning. Members of the 1986 Hall of Fame team, fresh off their induction, lined the mat to watch Coach Sean White put his charges through drills as high school wrestling recruits looked on.
BVU Hall-of-Famer Tom Mashek ’93, a 2006 inductee, sat in a chair to watch the practice, a rare opportunity to see his son, sophomore Max Mashek, practice with his teammates.
“You don’t get a chance like this too often,” said Mashek, who has taught and coached in the Louisa-Muscatine Community School District for decades. “This is an incredible setting and a chance to see so many other Beavers.”
Two classes of Beavers, 1970 and 1971, enjoyed their induction into the Cornerstone Guard on Saturday. Alumni traveled from states such as New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio, Nebraska, and throughout Iowa for a time of reminiscing and reconnecting.
As high school students toured campus and met with professors, a new Beaver Market featuring one dozen local vendors set up shop across from Edson Hall on College Avenue. The Beaver Boardwalk also took shape on the South Lawn between Siebens Fieldhouse and J. Leslie Rollins Stadium, an area bustling with family activities such as photos with Buford T. Beaver, inflatables, balloon animals, and more. Meantime, the BVU tailgate section filled to capacity nearly three hours before kick-off. By the time the game began at 1 p.m., the tailgate area alone was, in effect, Buena Vista County’s third-largest community.
Iowa Trust & Savings Bank President Rick Brennan ’90, of Emmetsburg, enjoyed a bit of an improbable aligning of the stars at this point. Brennan, a starting offensive lineman for the Beavers in the late 1980s, invited players from his era to join him at a tailgate east of Peterson Field, well within view of the playing field. Some 25 players and their families turned out, all of them standing silent when, at 1 p.m., Brennan’s daughter, BVU sophomore Annie Brennan, sang the National Anthem.
The Beavers rolled through Nebraska Wesleyan University on this day, giving the BVU Marching Blue and members of the cheer and dance teams plenty of opportunities to celebrate scoring drives and more. The game also gave Brian and Sonya Cooper, of Albuquerque, N. Mex., the chance to hug and high-five their son, Micah Cooper, after the final horn and the team’s singing of the BVU Alma Mater.
“Micah got his first career interception today,” his father said while sporting a wide smile. “Even better, he helped the team to a Homecoming victory. Being on the field and standing with Micah and his teammates and their parents after the game, we know he’s at a great place. This is the best community feeling any kid could experience.”
David and Kari Frost, of Boone, echoed the sentiment, although noting it’s something they’ve witnessed for nearly a decade.
“This is the eighth year we’ve been fortunate enough to have a son playing football for the Beavers,” said David as he congratulated senior Tanner Frost, a BVU linebacker, and the younger brother of former Beaver Mason Frost ’18. “Our sons have gotten opportunities on the field, and, more importantly off the field, where BVU staff, including our coaches, treat them like their own. Walking off the field for the last Homecoming game in which we’ll have a son play, in a beautiful setting like this, with all of these people here today, we just couldn’t be happier.”