Jon Hope is a man of his word.
The Lawrence University senior linebacker made a promise to his best friend when both were prep standouts at Northland Pines High School in northern Wisconsin. Hope had promised his pal Shane Ryan that he would wear Ryan’s No. 38 during Hope’s senior year of prep football. But another player chose 38 and Hope went back to No. 5.
With Ryan now serving overseas in the United States Army and only six games left in his college football career, Hope knew time was running out to make good on that promise.
“I decided this year that I would do it,” Hope said. “That always stuck with me. I decided I would be a man of my word and do it.”
So when Hope runs onto the Banta Bowl turf on Saturday for the Hall of Fame Game against Carroll University, he will have No. 38 on his back and thoughts of a best friend in harm’s way on the other side of the planet.
Ryan serves in the infantry and had already done one tour of duty fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Hope said Ryan is nearing the end of his four-year commitment to the military, and he wants to see his friend return home to family and friends.
“He’s been my best friend since my junior year of high school,” Hope said. “I came back to Northland Pines after being in Illinois, and we did everything together.”
And they played right next to each other on the field. Ryan was the fullback plowing the road for Hope, who was the tailback.
“Shane was the kind of guy that if you needed a big play, he would do his best and come up with it. He always sacrificed himself,” Hope said. “He gave it his all and made sure everyone was doing what they needed to do.
“I just want to do well for him. I don’t know. It will be like I’m going to be him for the day.”
Hope has played very well during his final season with the Vikings. He leads the team with 36 tackles and ranks fifth in the Midwest Conference at 9.0 tackles per game. Hope also has a team-high three interceptions, including two against Illinois College last Saturday. It was the first multi-interception game of Hope’s life. He hadn’t done it in college or in high school.
“It’s going to be weird, but I want to represent it well,” Hope said. “It doesn’t matter what jersey it is, it’s the number that’s important. I don’t want to disappoint him.”
Stevens honored again
Lawrence cross country standout Sam Stevens has been named the Midwest Conference Performer of the Week for second consecutive week.
The senior from Suamico, Wis., won the honor after his effort at the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak Invitational. Stevens finished 29th among the 272 competitors and was the top Midwest Conference finisher in the event. Stevens covered the 8,000 meters in 26:43.5.
Stevens also won the award in the final week of September after finishing second at the UW-Whitewater Invitational on Sept. 22.
Make it three straight
The Lawrence men’s soccer team beat St. Norbert College 2-1 on Wednesday, and that marks the third consecutive win for the Vikings over the Green Knights.
That’s a first for the Vikings, who had never beaten the Green Knights three consecutives times in a series that dates back to 1974. Lawrence had a five-game unbeaten streak against St. Norbert from 1981-84 but that involved two wins, a tie and two more wins.
Lawrence is now 5-5-1 on the season and 2-2-1 in the conference.
Induction set for Friday
The 2012 Lawrence Hall of Fame class will be inducted on Friday in a ceremony at the Warch Campus Center.
The group of coach Amy Proctor, wrestler Andy Kazik, swimmer Daniel Hurley, soccer star Megan Tiemann and soccer and hockey standout Tom Conti also will be recognized at Saturday’s football game against Carroll.
Editor’s Note: Inside LU Athletics is a notes package written by Lawrence University Director of Athletic Media Relations Joe Vanden Acker. It will feature teams and individual players, recap weekly awards or highlights and take a look at what’s ahead for the Vikings.