APPLETON, Wis. — The Lawrence University volleyball team will add six new faces when it takes to the court this fall, Vikings coach Matt Schoultz announced today.
Bryttany Dove of Altoona, Iowa, Katie Kumbalek of Houston, Texas, Arianna Neumeyer of Manitowoc, Wis., Claire Vinopal of Park Ridge, Ill., and Nicole Witmer of Plainfield, Ill., are set to join the Vikings. Lawrence also gets sophomore Elizabeth Arco, a basketball standout playing her first season of volleyball.
“The 2015 class has talent that will help us with our ball control and offense,” Schoultz said. “I am extremely excited about this group and how they will fit into our team for the 2015 season.”
Elizabeth Arco, Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett High School, 6-1, Middle Hitter
Arco was a three-year varsity player and three-year letter winner for Bartlett High School. Arco earned All-Upstate Eight Conference honors as a senior. Arco also competed earned three letters in basketball and was a starter for Lawrence as a freshman. Academically, Arco was a four-year honor roll student and two-year member of the National Honor Society. The daughter of Al and Carole Arco, she plans to major in psychology.
Bryttany Dove, Altoona, Iowa/Southeast Polk High School, 5-8, Outside/Defensive Specialist
Dove was a two-year varsity player and two-year letter winner for Southeast Polk High School. Dove earned All-CIML-CIC Eastern Conference honorable mention as a senior. Dove also earned two letters in track and field. Academically, Dove earned three academic letters and received the Lamp of Knowledge pin. Dove has played club volleyball for IPVA, I80, Powerplex and Johnston VBC. The daughter of James Dove and Diana Johnson, she plans to major in Spanish and economics.
Katie Kumbalek, Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek High School, 5-6, Defensive Specialist/Libero
Kumbalek was a one-year varsity player and one-year letter winner for Cypress Creek High School. Kumbalek earned the Cypress Creek Cougar Award as a senior. The award is for “hard work on and off the court, dedication and respect of the game, teammates, coaches and positive attitude.” Academically, Kumbalek is an Honors Graduate, cum laude, a member of the National Honor Society and Academic All-District 17-6A selection in volleyball. Kumbalek has played club volleyball for Willowbrook Volleyball Club. The daughter of Steve and Betsy Kumbalek (both Lawrence alumni), she plans to major in film studies.
Arianna Neumeyer, Manitowoc, Wis./Lutheran High School, 5-7, Outside Hitter/Defensive Specialist
Neumeyer won three volleyball letters for Manitowoc Lutheran High School. She was a first-team All-Olympian Conference selection as both a junior and senior. Neumeyer also was named to the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter All-Area Team as a junior and senior. Neumeyer helped lead her team to a conference championship in 2012 and a WIAA regional title in 2014. Neumeyer also competed in basketball and softball and was a multiple all-conference selection in both sports. Neumeyer plans on playing basketball at Lawrence. Academically, Neumeyer is a member of the National Honor Society, was an Olympian Conference Senior Scholar Athlete, Wendy’s High School Heisman School Winner, earned the President’s Award for Educational Excellence and was on the Honor Roll. Neumeyer has played club volleyball for Lakeshore Storm, Wisconsin Volleyball Academy and FC Elite Volleyball Club. The daughter of Troy and Lisa Neumeyer, she plans on majoring in biology (marine).
Claire Vinopal, Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South High School, 5-8, Outside Hitter/Defensive Specialist
Vinopal was a one-year varsity player and one-year letter winner for Maine South High School. Vinopal earned Academic All-Central Suburban League honors. Academically, Vinopal was a Chicago History Fair superior state finalist for best medical documentary. She played club volleyball for The Edge Volleyball Club. The daughter of Paul Vinopal and Patricia Ginnis, she plans on majoring in neuroscience.
Witmer won two letters for Joliet Catholic Academy. Witmer helped her team to a state tournament berth and a second-place finish in 2014. Witmer earned the Most Improved Player award in as a junior and senior. Academically, Witmer is a National Honor Society member, Honors Program Student, President of Student Council as a junior and senior and Scholastic Bowl captain. Witmer played club volleyball for Belusa United Volleyball Club. The daughter of Mark and Debbie Witmer, she plans on majoring in English.
Lawrence opens its season on Sept. 1 when the Vikings travel to the Milwaukee School of Engineering to play MSOE and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
APPLETON, Wis. — Lawrence University baseball star Jake Gordon has been named to the Jewish Sports Review All-America team for the second consecutive year.
Gordon (Winnetka, Ill./North Shore Country Day), a senior center fielder, was a first-team selection for the second straight time. Gordon was the only player from a Wisconsin school named to the team, which is made up of players from NCAA Division II and III and the NAIA.
Gordon hit a team-high .364 with 10 doubles, four triples, three homers, 29 runs scored and 23 runs batted in. This was the third post-season honor for Gordon, who was an All-Midwest Conference and D3baseball.com All-Central Region selection.
Gordon overcame an injury in the final few games of the season to break Lawrence’s career hits record in his final plate appearance. Gordon’s final hit gave him 155 for his career, moving him past Andrew Wong, who had 154 hits from 2003-06.
Gordon had 14 multi-hit games despite being limited to just 33 games this season and picked up three or more hits in seven games. An outstanding defensive outfielder, Gordon also picked up seven outfield assists and compiled a .989 fielding percentage.
A four-year starter in the outfield, Gordon is a career .338 hitter and finished with 27 doubles, eight triples, five homers, 92 runs scored and 59 RBIs.
A championship-winning coach and five former student-athletes will be inducted into the Lawrence University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 16.
Long-time swimming and diving coach Kurt Kirner will be enshrined with two-sport star Shannon Arendt LaRoux, runners Courtney Miller Cameron and Shelley Ebert Navis, basketball star Felice Porrata and baseball star Steve Blomberg.
The induction ceremony takes place at the Blue and White Dinner at the Warch Campus Center on Oct. 16, and the inductees are also introduced at the Hall of Fame football game vs. Carroll University at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 on Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl.
Steve Blomberg ’74
Steve Blomberg’s athletic career at Lawrence was brief, but the Brookfield, Wis., native stands as the finest hitter in school history.
Blomberg played two seasons of baseball at Lawrence before signing with the Kansas City Royals. He went on to play five seasons in the minor leagues and reached as high as Double-A before retiring.
A standout running back, Blomberg played varsity football as a sophomore and rushed for more than 1,000 yards, breaking or tying six school records along the way.
An outfielder on the baseball team, Blomberg was a career .481 hitter, hitting .485 in 1971 and .475 in 1972. Blomberg, whose season batting average record stood for 24 years, is the only player in Lawrence history to hit .400 in back-to-back seasons. A two-time All-Midwest Conference selection, Blomberg also earned Topp’s District All-America honors twice.
Known for his powerful bat, Blomberg posted a career .915 slugging percentage and still holds the season record at .984. He set career records with 12 home runs and seven triples and set season records with seven triples, nine home runs and 30 runs batted in. Blomberg continues to hold the game record of three homers.
Lawrence’s 1972 team tied with St. Olaf College for the Midwest Conference championship, the Vikings’ first league title.
During his one season of football, Blomberg was a first-team all-conference selection and was named the team’s Most Valuable Back. The Vikings finished 6-3 as Blomberg ran 204 times for 1,060 yards, a 5.2-yard average, and caught 16 passes for 239 yards.
Blomberg tied All-American Chuck McKee’s season record of 78 points scored in the process. He also broke the season records for punt returns, punt return yards, kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage and kickoff return average.
After playing five seasons in the minor leagues, Blomberg retired after playing the 1976 season with the Shreveport Captains of the Double-A Texas League. Blomberg hit .248, belted 38 homers and drove in 149 runs during his pro career.
A salesman for Waters Industrial Supply Co., Blomberg and his wife, Jeanne, have two children, Sam and Rebecca, and live in Waukesha. He also has a son, David, who resides in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Courtney Miller Cameron ’04
Courtney Miller displayed consistent excellence in cross country and collected a fistful of Midwest Conference track championships to stand as one of the great distance runners in Lawrence history.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Miller is the only cross country runner in Lawrence history to finish in the top 10 at the Midwest Conference Championships four times and is one of just three four-time all-conference honorees.
Miller posted second-place finishes at the MWC Championships in 2001 and 2003 and took ninth in 1999 and 2000. Part of a stellar group of distance runners, Miller led the Vikings to MWC cross country titles in 1999 and 2001 and second-place finishes in 2000 and 2003.
Running in the toughest regional in the nation, Miller grabbed one of the few individual qualifying spots for the NCAA Division III Championships in 1999 when she finished 26th to earn All-Midwest Region honors. She went on to finish 128th at the NCAA meet.
Miller, who was twice named the MWC Performer of the Week, took home individual titles at the Beloit Old English Classic and the Wisconsin Private College Championships in 2001 and won the Lawrence Invitational in 2003.
Miller, who didn’t compete during the 2002-03 academic year due to injury, also starred on the track for the Vikings. Miller was named the Outstanding Performer at both the 2004 indoor and outdoor Midwest Conference Championships and won five individual track titles and one relay championship.
Miller capped her 2004 indoor season at the MWC Championships by winning the the 800 meters in 2:18.94 and taking first in the 1,500 in 4:47.70. She also placed third in the 3,000 and ran a school-record time of 10:38.70. Miller also holds the indoor mark in the 1,000 meters at 3:04.67. At the MWC’s outdoor meet, Miller won the 800 (2:19.93) and 1,500 (4:51.11) and took second in the 5,000.
Miller claimed her first league title when she won the 800 at the 2000 MWC indoor meet with a time of 2:19.78. She also was part of the winning sprint medley relay team at the 2003 indoor MWC Championships. Miller teamed with Shelley Ebert, Sarah Slivinski and Jess Moser for a winning time of 4:16.80. Miller also was chosen as a MWC Performer of the Week during both the indoor and outdoor seasons during her career.
Miller won the school’s Outstanding Freshman Athletic Award for Women and claimed the Ruth Bateman Award for excellence in scholarship, athletic ability and leadership by a female athlete.
Miller earned degrees in German and violin performance at Lawrence and went on to earn her master of music degree in violin performance from the University of Illinois. Miller plays with the Victoria Symphony, and she and her husband, Matt, live in Victoria, B.C.
Kurt Kirner took Lawrence swimming to a new level as his teams won a pair of Midwest Conference titles and he coached nearly 200 league champions.
A native of Prairie du Sac, Wis., Kirner took over for another Lawrence Hall of Famer, Gene Davis, in 1991. He coached both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams for the next 16 seasons before moving to Division II Hillsdale College.
Kirner’s men’s team won the Midwest Conference Championships team title in 1996 and 2000. Kirner was named the MWC Men’s Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2006 and was the Women’s Coach of the Year in 2007.
Kirner, who coached eight current Lawrence Hall of Famers, had a remarkable record in the biggest meets of each season. The Lawrence men posted an average finish of 2.6 at the MWC Championships, and the women’s average finish at the league meet was 2.9. Following his first season as head coach, the Lawrence men finished third or higher in the Midwest Conference in 13 of the next 15 seasons. The Lawrence women did the guys one better, finishing third or higher in the league in 14 of Kirner’s final 15 seasons.
Kirner saw a remarkable 187 swimmers crowned Midwest Conference champions during his tenure at Lawrence. The 1995-96 men’s team had a stunning 36 competitors take the top spot in 1996 as Lawrence won 12 individual titles and six relays at the MWC Championships. The women’s team set a best of 19 league champions in 1993 and had 18 in 1995.
Lawrence established itself as the state’s dominant private college program during Kirner’s tenure. The Lawrence women won eight team titles at the Wisconsin Private College Championships and finished second eight times. The Lawrence men won six titles at the Private College Championships and finished second 10 times.
Kirner also broke new ground for Lawrence swimming at the NCAA Division III Championships. Becky Wagenaar was Lawrence’s first female All-American and earned All-America honors three times. Tracy Maschman was an All-American in 1995 and 1996, and Chas Mitchell eared All-America honors on the men’s side in 1996.
Kirner’s teams were also great in the classroom as perennial winners of the Scholar All-America Team award from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. The 1996-97 men’s team posted the highest grade point average in the nation.
In addition to his coaching duties at Lawrence, Kirner served as the building and programming director for the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center from May 1993-May 2006.
Kirner coaches the women’s swim team and is an assistant professor at Hillsdale College. He and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Quinn and Clayton.
Shannon Arendt LaRoux ’04
Shannon Arendt starred on the field and on the court for the Vikings. A standout infielder for the Lawrence softball team, Arendt also was a powerful outside hitter for the volleyball squad.
The Hortonville, Wis., native started for four years at second base and received postseason honors in three seasons. Arendt was an All-Midwest Conference selection in 2003 and 2004 and earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region honors in 2001.
A career .324 hitter, Arendt batted in the No. 2 spot in the lineup and piled up 26 doubles, three triples and one homer while driving in 62 runs and scoring 88 times.
Arendt helped Lawrence to a 71-57-1 record in her four seasons, and the Vikings qualified for the MWC Tournament for three consecutive seasons (2002-04). Lawrence won the 2003 North Division title and hosted the four-team conference tournament.
Arendt was a force as an outside hitter on the volleyball court and earned All-Midwest Conference honors in 2002 and 2003. She also led Lawrence to its best season in school history in 2001 when the Vikings went 19-12 and finished third in the Midwest Conference.
Arendt’s name is all over the Lawrence records, and she ranks second with 1,357 career kills. A career .187 hitter, Arendt had three of the top six season kill totals when she graduated. She posted a career-high 27 kills in a match twice, and her 448 kills in 2003 led the team.
Arendt’s wicked serve accounted for 199 career aces, which is tops in Lawrence history. She also holds the record for aces in a match (12) and season (69). Arendt has three of the top four season totals for aces in Lawrence history.
A fine defensive player as well, Arendt ranked second in school history with 1,604 digs when she graduated. She also piled up 100 career blocks.
Arendt, who received a degree in biology with an interdisciplinary in psychology, received her nursing degree from Rush University. She works as an aesthetic nurse at Fox Valley Plastic Surgery. Arendt and her husband, Alex, have a dog, Gunner, and a cat, Gizzie.
Shelley Ebert Navis ’03
Shelley Ebert blazed to eight Midwest Conference track titles, set six school records and was a key contributor on a pair of conference championship cross country teams.
A two-time qualifier for the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships, Ebert earned berths in the 800 meters for the 2002 indoor national meet and the 2003 outdoor championships.
Ebert continues to hold the school record both indoors and outdoors in the 800. She set the indoor mark of 2:18.01 at the 2002 NCAA Division III Championships and set the outdoor record of 2:14.30 in 2003.
A native of Janesville, Wis., Ebert dominated the 800 in the Midwest Conference for most of her career. She won the title indoors in the 800 for three consecutive years, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Ebert was named the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2003 MWC Indoor Championships.
Ebert took the title in the 800 at the MWC outdoor meet in 2002 and 2003 and also claimed the title in the 1,500 meters in 2003. Ebert was named the Most Outstanding Performer at the MWC Outdoor Championships in 2003. She also claimed three MWC track performer of the week awards.
A track team captain, Ebert also was a part of four school relay records and a pair of conference title winners.
Ebert teamed with Sarah Slivinski, Jess Moser and Courtney Miller to win the sprint medley relay at the 2003 indoor conference championships in 4:16.80. At the same meet, the 4×400 relay team of Ebert, Slivinski, Moser and Kim Boeckers finished second and set the school record of 4:09.03. The same relay team set the school record of 4:03.28 outdoors in 2003 and won the title at the MWC Championships.
The sprint medley relay team of Ebert, Slivinski, Sally Schonfeld and Kate Okenatez set the school record of 4:16.47 in 2000. The distance medley relay team of Ebert, Schonfeld, Moser and Katy Roll set the school record of 12:10.49 in 2002.
Ebert was part of an outstanding group of cross country runners and helped the Vikings to team titles at the 1999 and 2001 Midwest Conference Championships. The Vikings finished second in 2000 and took fourth in 2002.
Ebert earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lawrence. She has a master’s degree in professional development from Winona State University and a post-master’s school counseling certificate from UW-Whitewater. She is married to another Lawrence cross country and track standout, Peter Navis ’03, and they live in Fort Atkinson with their two children, Rachel and Michael.
Felice Porrata ’05
Felice Porrata quietly went about her business on the basketball court at Lawrence and emerged as one of the greatest players in school history.
Porrata’s competent consistency resulted in spectacular career numbers, and she was just the second player in Lawrence history to be a four-time All-Midwest Conference selection. The native of Glenview, Ill., joined Hall of Famer Jackie Huss as the only other four-time all-conference pick. Porrata was a first-team selection in 2004 and 2005 and a second-team pick in 2002 and 2003.
Porrata scored 1,186 career points, which ranked only behind Hall of Famer Sarah O’Neil when she graduated. Porrata averaged 12.8 points per game while shooting 47.9 percent from the floor. Porrata also ranks third with 645 career rebounds (6.9 average), and she is the only player in Lawrence history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
Not only was Porrata one of the league’s top scorers during her career, she also was a fine defensive player. Porrata ranked second in Lawrence history with 241 steals when she graduated and was second with 54 blocks.
A team captain, Porrata led Lawrence to three appearances in the four-team Midwest Conference Tournament during her four seasons. Lawrence made the tournament in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
The Vikings reached the conference championship game in 2005 and finished second in the league. Lawrence’s 18 wins in 2004-05 tied for the highest win total in school history and still ranks second all-time.
Porrata also played one season of softball and emerged as a contributor for the Vikings. Porrata played as a senior in 2005 and started 16 games in the outfield. The Vikings went 9-4 in Midwest Conference play, won the league’s North Division and hosted the Midwest Conference Tournament on their way to a 17-win season.
Porrata, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, lives in Kansas City, Mo. She works as a freight broker at Efreightship.
APPLETON, Wis. — Yon Boone has been named the defensive coordinator for the Lawrence University football team, head coach Rob McCarthy announced.
“Coach Boone brings a great deal of passion and energy to the football program,” McCarthy said. “His experience makes him an asset in so many ways both on and off the field. He is a relentless recruiter, and he really cares for his players. He will be instrumental in our building of a strong defense here at Lawrence and in our local and national recruiting efforts.”
Boone comes to Lawrence from Saint Anselm College, where he coached for the past three years. Boone was the linebackers coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Saint Anslem. Boone was part of the staff that led Saint Anselm to a 6-5 record in 2014. That was the first winning season for Saint Anselm in 14 years and tied the school record for victories in a season.
“Myself and my family are excited for the opportunity that Rob McCarthy has provided us to be part of the Lawrence family,” Boone said.
“My plan is to rebuild the defense so that it is simple to execute, with a priority of creating a physical presence on the field. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running in recruiting efforts, both nationally and most importantly here in our home state of Wisconsin.”
Boone was at Eastern Kentucky University in 2010 and 2011, where he served as a graduate assistant. Boone was the safeties coach in 2011 after coaching the outside linebackers in 2010. Boone earned a master’s degree in sport administration from Eastern Kentucky in 2011.
Boone also spent two years at Wofford College as a defensive assistant. He worked with the safeties, helped with recruiting and served as video coordinator and equipment manager.
Boone broke into coaching when he interned at Hamline University, assisting with both video and recruiting. Boone earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Hamline in 2008.
Boone and his wife, Brittany, are both natives of Naples, Fla.
APPLETON, Wis. — More than 150 Lawrence University student-athletes have been named to the Academic All-Midwest Conference team.
Lawrence had 153 student-athletes meet the minimum grade point average of 3.33 during the 2014-15 academic year. The top team for the Vikings was women’s indoor track, which had 17 student-athletes honored. Other top performing teams were women’s cross country and women’s soccer with 13 selections apiece, women’s swimming and diving with 12 and men’s soccer and women’s outdoor track with 11 apiece.
A total of 1,859 student-athletes were selected across the conference, and that surpasses the total of 1,752 honored during the 2013-14 academic year.
APPLETON, Wis. — Lawrence University star Taylor Winter and the women’s team were both honored by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America for academic excellence.
Winter (Bayside, Wis./Nicolet) received honorable mention on the Scholar All-America team, and the Lawrence women’s squad was chosen as a CSCAA Scholar All-America team.
Winter, a senior who earned a degree in environmental science, was one of nine swimmers chosen from the Midwest Conference. To be eligible for the award, a swimmer had to have a minimum 3.50 grade point average and achieved a “B” qualifying standard.
Winter, who won Lawrence’s Ruth Bateman Award for excellence in scholarship, athletic ability and leadership by a female athlete, was chosen for the first time. The swim team captain, Winter won the 1,650-yard freestyle for the second consecutive year at the 2015 Midwest Conference Championships and also finished third in the 500 freestyle. Winter broke her own school record in the 1,650 freestyle and recorded an NCAA “B” cut in the event. She also broke Hayley Vatch’s school record in the 500 freestyle.
To capture the team award, a team had to have a minimum 3.0 GPA during the spring semester. Lawrence’s 21-member women’s swim team posted an impressive 3.33 team GPA. Lawrence was one of five women’s teams from the Midwest Conference to be honored.
APPLETON, Wis. — Acclaimed coach Mark Speckman has joined the Lawrence University football staff and will serve as offensive coordinator, Vikings head coach Rob McCarthy announced.
Speckman joins the staff at Lawrence after serving for the last two seasons as the running backs and tight ends coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
“Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our football program,” McCarthy said. “With him as our offensive coordinator, our offense will have an identity.”
Speckman has a long and successful history as a head coach and is one of the experts in the game on the “Fly” offense.
“I look forward to becoming a member of the Lawrence University football family,” Speckman said. “With the new leadership of Rob McCarthy and the renovation of the Banta Bowl, this is an exciting time for Viking football. I also look forward to working with the outstanding student-athletes that attend Lawrence University.”
Speckman was a head coach at the collegiate level for 15 seasons, including 14 at Willamette University. Speckman coached Willamette 1998-2011 and compiled a record of 83-59. The Bearcats won the Northwest Conference in 1999 and 2008 and made appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs in 1999, 2004 and 2008.
Speckman’s 2008 team finished with an 11-1 record and was ranked as high as fourth nationally. Speckman was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year and was named American Football Coaches Association West Region Coach of the Year in 2008.
Speckman, who has been named a conference Coach of the Year 10 times, also served as the head coach at Menlo College in 2012 before going to the Canadian Football League.
Speckman served as a prep head coach at four different high schools from 1981-94 before joining the staff at Willamette as the offensive coordinator in 1995.
“Coach Speckman has had success building a successful Division III football program, and he will play an important role as we rebuild the program here at Lawrence,” McCarthy said. “Mark is a passionate coach and motivator. This, coupled, with his proven ability to recruit high-caliber student-athletes from throughout the country, will make him a valuable asset to both the football program and the university.”
Speckman has served as a consultant to high-powered college football programs like Wisconsin, Oregon and Stanford and also has worked with the staffs of the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
“Securing a coach with as much experience as Mark Speckman bodes well for the future of Viking football,” Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski said. “We are very excited to watch how his influence will help to move our program and department forward in a positive direction.”
A sought-after football theory and motivational speaker, Speckman drew media attention as a player decades ago. Born without hands, Speckman played linebacker at Menlo and later at Azusa Pacific University and was a NAIA All-American. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific in 1977 and picked up a master’s degree in health and human services from Columbia Pacific University in 1994.
Speckman, along with W. Jason Niedermeyer, authored the book, Figure It Out: How I Learned To Live In A Digital World Without Digits.
Lawrence opens its football season at the renovated Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl on Sept. 5 against Rockford University.
APPLETON, Wis. — The field of the renovated Banta Bowl will honor legendary Lawrence University football coach Ron Roberts, university officials announced.
Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl is the new name of the facility where Lawrence’s iconic coach prowled the sidelines for 20 seasons. The naming of the field was done at the request of Tom Rogers, Lawrence class of 1965, who provided the lead gift for the stadium renovation.
“It was a fitting way to recognize what Ron Roberts had done for Lawrence. He just did an amazing job,” Rogers said.
“When we were talking about the Bowl and the naming rights, it was very apparent to me that he was the person after whom we should name the field. His former players said he was an amazing coach, and he had the ability to inspire them to do some great things they didn’t think they were capable of doing.”
Rogers was a student at Lawrence when Roberts began his coaching career in Appleton. Rogers was a soccer player who helped establish that program at Lawrence, but he was impressed by what Roberts did for the football team.
“They had the beginnings of some very good teams, and I was very aware that Ron Roberts had a tremendous impact on the football program,” Rogers said. “It was a very obvious choice.”
Lawrence Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski said this is a fitting tribute to a Lawrence legend.
“The Roberts family has been tremendously supportive of our programs,” Szkodzinski said. “Ron Roberts’ legacy is something that people continue to marvel at even today. Coach Roberts demonstrated excellence in every aspect while at Lawrence and in life. The idea of naming the field after Coach Roberts is absolutely appropriate, and we appreciate the generosity of Tom Rogers.”
Ron Roberts served as Lawrence’s head football coach from 1965-83 and for a single season in 1992. His teams won six Midwest Conference championships and reached the semifinals of the 1981 NCAA Division III playoffs. Roberts compiled a career record of 121-54-1 and retired after the 1992 season with the 12th-best winning percentage (.690) in NCAA Division III football history.
“I wrote a thank you note to Tom Rogers,” said Marlene Roberts, Ron’s widow. “Tom said Ron had a positive impact on his life. His gift will have a tremendous impact on Ron’s memory so he will remain a visible part of Lawrence athletics.”
Ron Roberts passed away in December 2012, and Marlene said their three children, Ron Jr. ’84, Carrie ’86 and Elizabeth, were excited to hear the news about Roberts Field.
“I was so happy for Ron because this is something he would revel in,” Marlene said with a sparkle. “He would love it.”
The Banta Bowl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall, is in the midst of a renovation project that will give the historic stadium a facelift. Lawrence has received $4.15 million toward the goal of $4.5 million for renovations. Lawrence’s Development Office is in a final push to complete the fundraising campaign.
The stadium floor will be raised and expanded to accommodate both football and men’s and women’s soccer. The grass field is being replaced with FieldTurf, an artificial surface that will allow more use of the facility.
A new building is currently under construction that will house the Lawrence locker room, a visiting team room, bathrooms, concessions and ticketing. The concrete structure of the stadium will be covered and new bleachers will be installed. A new scoreboard and sound system are also set to be installed.
A memorial to Bernie Heselton, long-time coach and director of athletics, is set to be included in the renovated stadium. Heselton served as Lawrence football coach from 1938-64, won six Midwest Conference championships and compiled a record of 111-79-5.
A fundraising effort also is under way to include a memorial for Carl Berghult ’64, a friend and fraternity brother of Rogers. Berghult, a native of Chicago, Ill., was a running back for the Vikings and played in the final years of Heselton’s tenure. After graduating from Lawrence, Berghult was a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve, and he was killed in the flight deck fire aboard the USS Enterprise on Jan. 14, 1969.
The aggressive construction schedule calls for having the field completed when Lawrence opens its football season with a non-conference game against Rockford University on Sept. 5.
Ron Roberts was the first-year head coach of the Vikings when the stadium, a gift from George Banta Jr. ’10 that was called the Lawrence Bowl until 1978, opened in 1965. Lawrence christened the stadium with a 26-21 victory over St. Olaf College on Oct. 2, 1965.
“I do remember the pressure was on to win that game,” Marlene Roberts said. “Ron was so happy to beat St. Olaf. To open the Bowl with a win was wonderful. Ron always thought the best of his players. He thought his players could do anything. He genuinely believed that. I think that incited and inspired them.”
A native of Chicago, Ill., Ron Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in history and physical education and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin. A Professor Emeritus of Physical Education at Lawrence, Roberts earned an advanced degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Brigham Young University.
A charter member of the Lawrence Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame, Roberts came to Lawrence in 1963 as the offensive line coach under Heselton. Roberts, who was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996, also coached the wrestling and men’s tennis teams upon his arrival in Appleton.
Roberts won his first Midwest Conference championship in 1966 as the Vikings finished 7-1. In just his third season, the 1967 squad finished 8-0 to become only the fourth unbeaten, untied team in school history and won another conference title. Roberts’ teams would go on to win four more conference championships (1975, 1979, 1980, 1981).
In Roberts’ tenure as head coach, the Vikings posted 14 winning seasons, including an impressive 10-year stretch from 1974-83. During that time, Lawrence never lost more than two games in a season and posted a 77-15 record. Lawrence also put together a school-record 18-game winning streak during that time.
The 1981 season was perhaps the pinnacle of Roberts’ coaching career. Lawrence won the Midwest Conference championship and finished with a 9-0 regular-season record (10-1 overall). Lawrence then became the first Midwest Conference team selected for the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Lawrence also became the first Midwest Conference team to host, and win, a NCAA playoff game when Lawrence defeated Minnesota-Morris in the quarterfinals. Lawrence was finally eliminated in the national semifinals but no Midwest Conference team has ever advanced farther in the Division III playoffs.
Roberts, who also was Lawrence’s director of athletics, stepped away from football after the 1983 season but returned to the team to coach the 1992 season before retiring. When Roberts finished coaching football, only Cornell College’s Jerry Clark had won more games in the Midwest Conference.
Roberts also served as the head coach of the wrestling, tennis and track teams during his time at Lawrence. Roberts coached the wrestling team for 19 seasons in three different stints (1963-69, 1972-74, 1985-93). He coached the men’s tennis team for six seasons from 1964-69 and the team won the 1968 conference championship.
Roberts took over as director of athletics following Heselton’s retirement in 1971 and oversaw the introduction of women’s varsity sports at Lawrence. Women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross country, tennis, track and field, swimming and softball all began varsity play during Roberts’ tenure as director of athletics.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.
APPLETON, Wis. — More than a dozen Lawrence University student-athletes recently received awards at the 2015 Honors Celebration.
The awards and winners are as follows.
The Ruth Bateman Award is given for excellence in scholarship, athletic ability and leadership by a female athlete. Senior swimmer Taylor Winter (Bayside, Wis./Nicolet) won the award for a second consecutive year. The swim team captain, Winter won the 1,650-yard freestyle for the second consecutive year at the 2015 Midwest Conference Championships and also finished third in the 500 freestyle. Winter broke her own school record in the 1,650 freestyle and recorded an NCAA “B” cut in the event. She also broke Hayley Vatch’s school record in the 500 freestyle.
The Iden Charles Champion Cup is given for excellence in scholarship, athletic ability, college spirit and loyalty. Senior men’s basketball player Andrew Borresen (West Bend, Wis./Living Word Lutheran) has won the award for the second consecutive year. A member of the Dean’s List and Mortar Board, Borresen has a 3.92 grade point average and will graduate with a degree in history. A member of the Academic All-Midwest Conference team, Borresen is co-chairman of Lawrence’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He has served as a volunteer at Richmond Elementary School, worked on Habitat for Humanity projects and volunteered with Lawrence’s Food Recovery Network. He also works in Lawrence’s Sports Information Office and Admissions Office.
The Outstanding Freshman Athletic Award for Men is given the freshman man who has made the most outstanding contribution to Lawrence athletics. Sharing the award are tennis player David Jumes (Appleton, Wis./Xavier) and hockey player Brendan Vetter (Phillips, Wis./Phillips). Jumes finished with a 14-7 record in singles and an 8-11 mark in doubles. Jumes, who reached the semifinals at No. 2 singles at the Midwest Conference Championships, was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Vetter, a defeseman, led the team with seven goals scored and was tied for third on the team with 11 points. Vetter also led the team in plus-minus and has been named an assistant captain for next season.
The Outstanding Freshman Athletic Award for Women is given to the freshman woman who has made the most outstanding contribution to Lawrence athletics. Erin Schrobilgen (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) competed in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. Schrobilgen earned All-Midwest Conference honors in cross country after a 12th-place finish at the league championships. During the indoor track season, Schrobilgen broke the school record in the mile that had stood since 1978. She also earned Academic All-America honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The Ralph V. Landis Award was established by the Lettermen of Lawrence in honor of Dr. Landis, physician to Lawrence students from 1926-78, and is awarded for outstanding contributions to Lawrence athletics by a senior male athlete. Senior men’s basketball player Ryan DePouw (Oconto, Wis./Oconto) was honored after finishing a stellar career. A three-year starter and team captain, DePouw is one of just 22 players in Lawrence basketball history to score 1,000 points. He finished 21st in career scoring with 1,028 points.
The Charles E. Pond Award for Men is given for all-around athletic ability by a senior man in two or more sports and for sportsmanship, school spirit and scholarship. Senior soccer player and swimmer Steve Salansky (Parker, Colo./Legend) was a standout in both sports. On the soccer field, Salansky was a three-year starter and two-year team captain. As a defender, he earned All-Midwest Conference three times and was a two-time All-Wisconsin selection. Salansky, who also served as swim team captain, was the second-leading scorer for the squad.
The Charles E. Pond Award for Women is given for all-around athletic ability by a senior woman in two or more sports and for sportsmanship, school spirit and scholarship. Senior multi-sport athlete Kassidy Rinehart (Hortonville, Wis./Hortonville) starred in three sports and won 12 letters for the Vikings. During the fall, Rinehart ran cross country for the Vikings and helped Lawrence to a third-place finish at the Midwest Conference Championships in 2014. During the winter season, Rinehart was a four-year player for the basketball team. She served as the basketball team captain as a senior and was named the team Defensive Most Valuable Player all four years. During the spring season, Rinehart has won four letters as a sprinter and jumper for the track and field team. Rinehart also is the co-chairperson of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a four-year Academic All-Midwest Conference selection.
The Marion Read Award is given for outstanding contributions to Lawrence athletics. The award had two winners this year as seniors Keli Muchowski (Neenah, Wis./Neenah) and Kara Vance (Racine, Wis./Park) shared the honor. Muchowski was the leading scorer for the women’s soccer team and earned All-Midwest Conference honors three times. She scored nine goals and handed out three assists in 2014 for 21 points. Muchowski finished ninth in Lawrence history with 26 goals and is eighth with 65 points. Vance was a standout pitcher for the Vikings and finished with a 28-20 career record. Vance was named Midwest Conference Pitcher of the Week twice during her career and her 28 wins ranks sixth in Lawrence history. She holds the Lawrence record for fewest walks per innings pitched with just 36 bases on balls in 292.2 innings pitched. The softball team captain, Vance also served as a student manager for football and is a leader in the Kids Give campaign.
The Letterwinner Award is presented by the L Club to those outstanding seniors who have earned eight or more letters. The winners are:
Kyle Dockery (Barrington, Ill./Barrington), cross country and track and field
Pat Mangan (Barrington, Ill./Barrington), cross country and track and field
Kassidy Rinehart (Hortonville, Wis./Hortonville), cross country, women’s basketball and outdoor track and field
Savannah Vogel (Deerfield, Wis./Deerfield), cross country and track and field
The entire slate of four games on Sunday (May 24) at the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship was postponed due to rain. Play is tentatively set to resume at 9 a.m. on Monday (May 25) at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.
The Pool A elimination contest between Ramapo College (N.J.) (33-15) and Frostburg State University (Md.) (42-8) is scheduled to commence play on Monday at 9 a.m. The winner will play unbeaten State University of New York at Cortland (42-4) at 3 p.m.
The Pool B elimination game on Monday features Trinity University (Texas) (38-13) opposing Emory University (Ga.) (31-14) at 12 p.m. The winner plays unbeaten University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (35-13) at 6 p.m. in the last game of the day.
The championship concludes with games on Tuesday (May 26) and Wednesday (May 27).
Monday, May 25 Schedule Game #9 – 9 a.m. Frostburg State University (Md.) (42-8) vs. Ramapo College (N.J.) (33-15)
Game #10 – 12 p.m. Emory University (Ga.) (31-14) vs. Trinity University (Texas) (38-13)
Game #11 – 3 p.m. Winner of Game #9 vs. State University of New York at Cortland (42-4)
Game #12 – 6 p.m. Winner of Game #10 vs. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (35-13)
Sunday, May 24 Results
All Games Postponed Due To Rain
Saturday, May 23 Results Game #5
Ramapo College (N.J.) 14, Webster University (Mo.) 2 Game #6
State University of New York at Cortland 4, Frostburg State University (Md.) 1
Trinity University (Texas) 9, Salisbury University (Md.) 1
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 3, Emory University (Ga.) 2, (12 Innings)
Friday, May 22 Results
Frostburg State University (Md.) 3, Ramapo College (N.J.) 1
State University of New York at Cortland 12, Webster University (Mo.) 4
Emory University (Ga.) 9, Trinity University (Texas) 7
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 7, Salisbury University (Md.) 3