Re-courted history: The legacy of our new hall of fame inductees

After two years, Hamline University inducts eight new athletes into their hall of fame, continuing the legacy of Division III sports.

Michael Kurtz, Sports Reporter

After two years, Hamline University inducts eight new athletes into their hall of fame, continuing the legacy of Division III sports. (Aidan Stromdahl)

Hamline hosted a Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sept. 24, where they inducted eight incredible athletes as part of the 2021 and 2022 H.O.F. class. These athletes spanned from as recent as graduating in 2011 all the way back to 1973. 

As many students know, Hamline University is home to the first intercollegiate basketball game. They hosted the Minnesota State School of Agriculture on Feb. 9, 1895, resulting in a 9–3 for the latter. How do students know this? Because every admissions tour given is sure to mention it as one of its hallmarks of sports history. However, Hamline athletic history goes much deeper than just this one historic game.

Alumni athletes in the Hall of Fame represented almost every sport offered at the school in baseball, softball, cross country and track, swim, football, basketball and golf.

At the dinner, each attending sport brought two current athletes to represent the sport. Junior Andreiana Aurelius was invited on behalf of the Track and Field team, which celebrated two athletes: Sue Nehotte Klappa ‘78 and Mike Malmgren ‘97. 

“I thought it was heartwarming to see that all these people cared about their time here, about the people they met and how it shaped their lives,” Aurelius said. “It was almost an incentive to do better [for me], but I’m sure without the award they still would’ve loved their time here.”

Andrew Bennett ‘2008 was inducted for his time on the baseball team. In his time, he earned two ESPN Academic All-American awards, three MVP awards, was named to the All-Region and All-MIAC teams and held program-best records in multiple statistics.

Bennett reflected on his time on the field and in the classroom. 

“We were trying to be a great team, win championships, but also academics were always a priority. My head coach, Jason Verdugo, who’s now the Athletic Director, encouraged us to really get involved with professors,” Bennet said. “Andy Rundquist, who was my advisor, is an amazing guy. One of the benefits of going to a small school like Hamline is that you build incredible relationships. Academics and athletics are cohesive, they really mesh well together.”

The Athletic Hall of Fame is lined with athletes from all different sports and programs, some teams that are no longer offered at Hamline for current students. (Aidan Stromdahl)

The other seven inductees, nominated by a board of current staff and hall of fame members, had similar experiences to Bennett. Athletic Director Jason Verdugo opened the 200-guest dinner and was followed by speeches by each of the inductees. Most of them focused on relationships built at Hamline and the culture built around athletics. 

As Verdugo recalled, it was never about facilities or winning or losing for them. It was an emotional time for them to reflect on their experience. What does being a coach or teammate mean to them? 

“I love it because it re-energizes me and it’s a reminder of why we’re here. We’re here to help student athletes go into the next stage of their life,” Verdugo said. 

Verdugo also spoke on the legacy of these athletes, and the effect they have on the athletic department. 

“I take it very seriously. We try to live up to that standard. It’s about what we do in the day to day interactions in terms of our effort and commitment to our sport, teammates and brand of Hamline. That’s how we live up to the legacy,” Verdugo said.

Looking back, there is no one who quite embodied the legacy of Hamline Athletics quite like inductee Mary Hoisser ‘73, who was never a part of a team. When Hoisser attended the school, she participated in intramural sports mentored by Pat Paterson, the Physical Education professor at the time. 

After her time at Hamline, Hoisser went on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Saint Paul Bowling and USBC State Bowling and also had a career in golf where she was an 18-time Keller Women’s Golf Champion. 

Separate from sports, Hoisser spent 35 years as a physical education teacher at the Saint Paul Public School System. As many put it, she was a “competitor till the end.” passing away in 2016 after a long fought battle with lung cancer. 

Some say that the biggest legacy hall of fame members leave behind is the memories made during their time and the success that follows afterward. Bennett, now living in Ohio with his family of four as one of the founders of Provide Tech, shared one of his favorite memories from college. 

“We were playing Concordia in Moorhead and we had to win the last game to clinch the first playoff berth ever in Hamline baseball. It was tough to make the playoffs, and I’ll never forget winning with those guys,” Bennett said. “It ended up being a single elimination tournament due to weather, so it was a final four. We were the new kids at the party when we played St. Thomas, and we beat them. We felt we really contributed something to the legacy of Hamline baseball.”

As athletes continue to go through the athletic program, it is clear that administration not only values the precedent set by hall of famers, but also strive to continue that legacy in their day to day efforts to better the program.