Dave Sheldon came to Bluffton from Wynford High School in Bucyrus, Ohio, and in his first college basketball season was the Association of Mideast Colleges’ Newcomer of the Year. He went on to become one of four Bluffton men’s basketball players to record at least 1,000 points—he scored 1,085—and 250 assists in their careers. In 2013, he remained atop the career assists list with 463. The two-year captain was also Bluffton’s leader in three-point field goals made in a game, twice with nine, and in a career, with 234.
Sheldon won the A.C. Burcky Award in 1998 as Bluffton’s outstanding senior male athlete and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a second major in sport management. After working in administration for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, he moved into education as a teacher and athletic director in Bucyrus City Schools. Since 2005 he has been dean of students, athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach at Colonel Crawford High School. Sheldon holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Ashland University. He and his wife, Amy, live in Bucyrus with their daughter, Caroline.
Matt Creamer scored 43 points in a 1979 basketball game against Manchester College. The number still ranked as the fifth most in school history, 37 years later. That statistic—combined with an impressive career as both a player and a coach—are why Creamer is inducted into the Bluffton University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Creamer played at Bluffton from 1976 to 1980. He earned four letters and was selected captain for the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons. During the 1978-79 season, he was named to the All-Hoosier Buckeye Collegiate Conference 1st Team and All NAIA District 22.
Creamer’s head varsity coaching career spans 29 seasons, with stops at Lafayette Allen East (1983-85), Streetsboro (1985-90), Lima Senior (1992-96) and Massillon (1996-2011). He was also the head coach of the Florida Jades (1990-92) and the assistant coach of the Youngstown Pride (1988-90) in the World Basketball League. When inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016, he was serving as the head varsity boys coach at Canton Central Catholic.
Creamer graduated in 1980 with a degree in English education. He lives in Massillon, Ohio, and is married to Jill Creamer. They have two sons, Christian and Cameron.
Jennifer (Etzler ’95) Fledderjohann was named all-Association of Mideast Colleges in volleyball in 1993 and 1994—when Bluffton won the AMC title and qualified for the NCAA regional tournament—and in basketball in 1994-95.
She remained in the top 20 in several statistical categories in both sports, including, in basketball, tied for first in games played (102) and fifth in career assists (281) and, in volleyball, fourth in career assists (2,214) as of 2015.
Earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1995, the Fort Recovery, Ohio, native taught at New Knoxville School until 1997, then in Anna Local Schools from 1997-2004. She has been back at New Knoxville since 2007. Along the way, she has added a master’s degree in technology from the University of Dayton, and is pursuing her principal’s license through Concordia University in Chicago.
Fledderjohann was also a varsity volleyball coach for nine years, compiling an 83-20 record at Anna from 1997-2000 and an 83-39 mark at New Knoxville from 2004-08. Her 1998 and 1999 Anna teams reached the regional tournament. At New Knoxville, she was the Midwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2005, and the Rangers were state runners-up in 2006, when Fledderjohann received an achievement award from the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association.
Becky (Reineke ’98) Boblitt ranks 10th in Bluffton women’s basketball career scoring, with 931 points from 1994-98. As a sophomore in 1995-96, she averaged a team-leading 13.8 points per game as Bluffton won 16 games—which remained a single-season school record in 2013—and the Association of Mideast Colleges (AMC) title. She was named first-team all-AMC and to its all-tournament team that season.
The Bluffton native also led the 1996-97 team in scoring, with a 13-point average, and as a senior the following year, the three-year letter winner earned all-Great Lakes Region honorable mention. Her 63 three-point field goals as a junior and 62 as a senior are second and third only to her 69 as a sophomore on Bluffton’s list of most three-pointers in a season. Her 194 career three-pointers represent a school record as well, and she is tied for the single-game record, twice sinking six treys in a game. *
In soccer, Boblitt is Bluffton’s career scoring leader, with 40 goals in three years, and co-holder of the mark for goals in a game, with five. She ranks second for goals in a season, with 14 both in 1995 and 1996. * She was first-team all-AMC in 1995 and a second-team selection in 1994.
Since earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1998, Boblitt has taught middle school and elementary art in McComb (Ohio) Local Schools. From 1999-2004, she was the girls’ varsity basketball coach at McComb, leading the Panthers to Blanchard Valley Conference co-championships and district titles in both 2001 and 2003. In 2003, she was named coach of the year in the conference, District 8, Northwest Ohio and Ohio Division IV.
Boblitt holds a master’s degree in education from Marygrove College and is active at First United Methodist Church in Bluffton, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their three children.
* school records as of 2014
In his early years at Bluffton “Prof. Berky” coached a number of sports including, in 1921-22, football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. He was instrumental in developing Bluffton’s first athletic facilities including the 1916 fundraising campaign to construct “the Barn,” home to basketball and campus events.
In athletics, Berky is best known for coaching men’s tennis for more than three decades and faithfully maintaining the clay courts that were a campus landmark for many years. His 45 year tenure included substantial contributions to athletics and science as indicated by the naming of Berky Science Hall.
James “Spike” Berry quarterbacked Bluffton’s football team to four Mid-Ohio League championships, and he earned 10 letters in three Bluffton sports—just as he had at Bluffton High School.
He went on to a successful career as head football coach at nearby Cory-Rawson High School, where his teams won 10 Blanchard Valley Conference championships and were undefeated six times.
Berry’s 1968 Hornets were designated as Class A state champions after going unbeaten and unscored upon. He was named Ohio Class A Coach of the Year, as well as Northwest District Class A Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and United Press International.
He coached in Ohio all-star games in 1969 and 1978, and was director of the Ohio-Pennsylvania high school all-star game in 1975. He also served as president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
The late Kathryn Little was an instructor in physical education at Bluffton from 1956-59 and again in 1965-73. She illustrates the story of coaching and teaching at Bluffton, moving gracefully from the role of student-coach to full time teacher-coach. Little combined college study with teaching and coaching and with the multiple arts of homemaking and a variety of community activities.
In high school at Leipsic she earned three letters in basketball and was selected to the All County team. Years later she coached the women’s teams in basketball, volleyball and softball in the revival of these intercollegiate sports. She is one of the unsung heroines of that movement coming to national recognition through the efforts of Billy Jean King and others. However, leaf through the pages of old Ista yearbooks and one finds a significant plane given to women’s sports on the Bluffton campus, the activities of the women’s varsity B and the women’s hiking club.
Little reflected the balance which characterized Bluffton’s athletic spirit and tradition. An able student, winning Pi Delta honors as an undergraduate, she reflected thoroughness and quality in the classroom. She organized a broadly-based intramural program for women. She opened up an intercollegiate sports program for women. She worked with cheerleaders in the intricacies of the cheerleading art and served on hundreds of committees which serve behind the scenes of Homecomings, May Days and special campus events.
Little and her family symbolized by their activities and interests that athletics is not just a series of spectator sports where you play hard in high school and college and then sit out the rest of your life on the stands or in front of the TV. Her avid love of tennis and other “lifetime sports” affirms the importance of sports and recreation in the whole man and woman.
Little died in 2005.
In his four years at Bluffton, Elbert Dubenion, gained 4,734 yards rushing and averages 9.4 yards a carry. In 1960 he joined the Buffalo Bills for the first season of the American Football League. In his eight year career he caught 294 passes for 5,294 yards and 35 touchdowns. In one stretch, from 1961 to 1964, he caught passes in 42 consecutive games. A sportswriter wrote that he was “the most popular man on the team.”
Dubenion was a team man at Bluffton. As one who could have made any Big Ten team, Dubenion gave the Bluffton teams of those years the touch of the invincible. Opponents could not believe that these players were drawn to Bluffton without the allurements of athletic scholarships.
Many stories can be told about Dubenion. One of his many admirers tells of a neighboring team psyching itself up in the pre-game warm-ups with the chant: “get Dubenion…get Dubenion…get Dubenion…get Dubenion.” That day it was touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion. Four touchdowns, 270 yards, 27 yards a carry.
There is also the story of the injured Dubenion, sitting on the bench with Bluffton trailing. At halftime Dubenion asked Coach Ken Mast whether he could suit up. He went in for one play, scored the winning touchdown and returned to the bench, his day’s work done.
Andrew Burcky has been both a coach and a legend. He was not “a” coach but “the” coach. Burcky out lasted, out lived, out story-told all college coaches in the Midwest.
Out of the cornfields of Illinois, from a place called Tiskilwa, he came to Bluffton at the end of World War I to be one of the craftiest baseball players in Bluffton’s history. One reads in the Ista of how this boy wonder, “Ziggy had the opposing batter eating out of his hands” or, even in defeat, “Ziggy pitched a stellar game but his support went fishing.”
He was from 1922 on through the 20s, 30s and 40s a one man athletic department. He coached football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track, women’s basketball, taught all the physical education courses, served as trainer, was equipment manager and purchasing agent, directed the crews lining the field, handled publicity, arranged schedules, drove one of the cars loaded with players to away games and comforted the afflicted – all this without benefit of box to bench telephones, game films and assistant coaches.
There have been lean year and great years, like the 1924 basketball season with a 7-1 record in conference play and the first championship; the 1932 football season with the first championship; and one cannot forget about the great football team of 1936.
The addition to Founders Hall is named in Burcky’s honor. Coach Burcky’s wit and gift for story telling has endeared him to generations of Bluffton students. In the highly competitive world of intercollegiate sports he has embodied in his 44 years career at Bluffton the qualities of fairness, respect and integrity – every bit of him being professional.
The late Emery Sears, a 1928 graduate, lettered in football, basketball and track at Bluffton. He majored in biological sciences and was a regular on the college honor roll and vice president of his senior class.
After graduation, Sears was a high school principal and athletics coach. He received a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and was a board member for three corporations and a state realtor for Farm Bureau.
Sears was also a Sunday school teacher and superintendent in the Mennonite church.
Kenneth Mast coached four sports at Bluffton—football, basketball, track and golf—from 1951-67. While many men have coached at Bluffton, he seemed to have that special gift of establishing rapport with his players and getting them to work to their fullest potential.
Commenting on his years at Bluffton, Mast stated “Bluffton was a way of life for me and my family. Aside from the many thrilling victories and championships we shared at Bluffton, the thrill of assisting a dedicated faculty and being able to touch the lives of scores of students can never be measured.”
For a time, Mast was the winningest coach in football and track at Bluffton. He also coached its championship basketball team in 1964.
Mast, who started the Bluffton golf program, was also head golf pro at Lost Creek Country Club in Lima, Ohio, and played in many tournaments, spreading his name—and Bluffton’s—throughout Ohio.
The late Hugh Frost graduated in 1951 with a major in social science. Hugh attended Rayen High School in Youngstown, Ohio, and served in his community for many years after graduation.
As a student at Bluffton, letters were earned in basketball, football, track and baseball. While his sports activities were varied, most remember Hugh as a football standout. Pro scouts also recognized his ability with tryout offers coming from the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts.
When Frost was asked what Bluffton meant to him, he responded, “it was gratifying that emphasis was placed on implementation of religious beliefs and the development of personal relationships.” He added, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
His involvement in civic activities was wide spread, including serving as vice president of the Ohio Affirmative Action Officers Association. He served as alumni president, advisory committee and Board of Trustee member of Bluffton. In 1967 Hugh was the Republican candidate for mayor of Youngstown, Ohio.
He was recognized in 1974 by the Youngstown State University Student Government Services Award committee for outstanding service provided to the student body of the university. In 1970 Frost was honored by Bluffton with the Outstanding Alumnus Award. Frost died in 1998.
Roger Bixel is honored for his accomplishments while serving as head football coach from 1971 to 1974 at Bluffton. It was under his leadership that Bluffton won its first football championship in the Hoosier Buckeye Collegiate Conference.
While most people remember his accomplishments as a football and baseball coach, Bixel also earned 11 letters while attending Bluffton as a football, basketball and baseball player. This represents a number of letters that not many have accomplished in their college careers. He also served co-captain for two years under Coach Mast.
Reflecting on his years at Bluffton as a student and faculty member Bixel made the following statement. “I deeply appreciate the numerous opportunities and experiences provided me during my years at Bluffton. Especially the personal relationships and friendships developed among students, players, coaches and faculty. Wins, losses, individual records and performances may be forgotten, but the friendships and personal relationships are permanent memories.”
Bixel’s game of the past as a player or coach could be talked about forever. However, he is honored as a model of what Bluffton would hope every student who graduates could follow. His consistent values and treatment of athletes as individuals is a goal that many coaches strive for but only a few achieve.
The late Wilbur Berkey is honored for his accomplishments in baseball and basketball at Bluffton. However, he had many contributions to the community of Smithville, Ohio. He was a social studies teacher from 1935 to 1963 and a basketball coach from 1937 to 1961. He was a high school principal from 1941 to 1951 and also served Smithville High School as an athletic director.
Berkey had many contributions to Smithville but his contributions to Bluffton have also been appreciated. For many years he provided through his trophy business the fourth year Beaver trophy award. He has influenced untold numbers of prospective students to attend Bluffton.
Berkey was recognized by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association in 1975 for his contributions to Ohio sports. Among his innovations was the County All Star game from which the proceeds were given to a Wayne County charity. In 1945 he started one of the first basketball coaching schools now famously known as the Northern Ohio Basketball Coaching School.
Berkey had been president of the Wayne County Education Association and appointed by the NEA to a National conference on fitness for secondary schools.
Berkey died in 1997.
William Williams was the first athlete to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame posthumously. He earned 11 Bluffton letters—four each in baseball and basketball and three in football. He was all-conference in basketball for three years and was a basketball and baseball team captain.
Probably the greatest tribute to Williams was the fact that former Coach A.C. Burcky placed him as one of the top athletes on his list of deceased men who deserved recognition in the hall of fame.
Williams spent his post-Bluffton career in education as a teacher, coach, principal, counselor, curriculum director, athletics director and associate professor.
James Gratz, a Bluffton High School graduate, received seven collegiate letters in football, basketball and baseball.
Gratz was a teacher and coach in many Bluffton-area high schools before becoming an associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Manchester College. He also served Manchester as athletics director, head wrestling and baseball coach, and an assistant football coach.
Gratz earned the unofficial title of “Father of the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference.” Under his leadership as president of the conference, which then consisted of only Indiana colleges, Bluffton and three other Ohio colleges were invited to consider membership in the renamed HBCC. He was the conference wrestling Coach of the Year in 1970 and, beginning in 1971, was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Executive Committee.
In 1966, 1967 and 1969, he was selected by fellow coaches to lead the Indiana Boys Club North Football All Stars.
The late Walter Diehl was a 1937 graduate with a major in social science. Diehl played football, basketball, track and baseball. He earned all-conference and honorable mention all-state honors in football, and was a member of conference championship baseball teams in 1936 and 1937.
Off the playing fields, he was Student Senate president, May Day chair and voted as Most Popular Man.
Diehl worked for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services for 35 years and also performed community service in Youngstown.
The late James Vogelgesang characterized what a man can do in athletics and what athletics can do for a man. His accomplishments in athletics, over a long and distinguished career, were as diversified as a man can achieve in his field of endeavor.
After graduating from the Lima school system, Vogelgesang attended Ohio State University and competed in both football and track. He was runner-up in the 1932 Ohio State pentathlon competition. Bluffton beckoned in 1934, and he participated in football, basketball and track under Coach A.C. Burcky. He served as captain of both the track and football teams.
His subsequent career in teaching and coaching spanned the years 1936-76. Tenure in the Lima, Cridersville and Shawnee public schools over those years included positions as varsity football, track and golf coach; faculty manager; supervisor of health and physical education; athletics director; and superintendent of schools.
Vogelgesang also had a distinguished career in officiating football, track and basketball from 1937-72. He officiated the state high school basketball finals, was a Mid-American Conference football official for 17 years and, in 1969, was president of the Ohio Association of Football Officials.
Vogelgesang died in 2000.
Richard Gratz played basketball at Bluffton, leading the team in scoring in 1948 and 1949.
He was later a teacher and coach at the former McGuffey and Harrod high schools; a teacher at Lima Bath; a teacher and counselor at Lima Central Junior High; and a dean and assistant principal at Lima Senior High School.
He was also a high school basketball referee who officiated games at the state level. He participated in state basketball tournaments, too, as a Bluffton High School student in 1940 and 1942.
According to Gratz, “sports have always been an important part of my life, but not the ultimate interest. Many friendships were acquired and, in retrospect, many games were played with equipment and conditions which youth of today would rebel against. But it was a time of pulling together and learning about teamwork in a greater sense than perhaps today. They are now simply good memories.”
The late Ivan Geiger graduated from Bluffton in 1932 with a degree in biological science. As a college athlete, he earned three varsity letters in football and track and one in basketball, and received All-Northwest Ohio Conference honors in football. He was also active in swimming and water polo for three years.
He entered The Ohio State University for additional training in health and physical education, which led to a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1933. He continued his studies in the Ohio State graduate school and earned a master’s degree in health and physical education.
Geiger started his coaching and physical education career in Van Buren, Ohio, where he coached football and basketball and taught health and physical education from 1933-37. He then served as director of athletics and physical education at Van Buren until 1942.
In high school, Geiger won three letters in football and two each in basketball and track. He was captain of the football and track teams his senior year.
The late Roland “Rollie” Swank was captain of the 1928 football team and was chosen as right end on the Northwest Ohio Conference first team from 1926-28. He earned 12 letters overall, four each in football, baseball and basketball.
A graduate of Bluffton High School, Swank was voted best all-around boy in 1925 and was senior class president.
Until 1968, Swank served as junior high, then high school, teacher, coach and principal before becoming superintendent of Elida Schools. He also coached football, basketball and baseball.
Swank was a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Elida, where he was a trustee for three years. He was also a member of a national association of school administrators and served three and a half years in World War II, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.
Swank said “my experiences at Bluffton have taught me the value and meaning of real dedication as shown by Coach Burcky and many of my professional colleagues. The fine moral tone of campus life set many values that have stuck with me.”
The late Dale “Rick” Reichenbach earned four letters in tennis and three in basketball at Bluffton. He was undefeated one year as the Beavers’ top tennis player.
Reichenbach, who earned a master’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1952, was an educator for 36 years, eventually becoming principal of Midview High School.
As a high school basketball coach at Montgomery Local Schools, Grand Rapids and Elyria, Reichenbach accumulated an overall record of 346-100. At Grand Rapids, he coached his team to four league championships and the Ohio Class B championship in 1951. He coached nine Elyria teams to the regional tournament and three to the state tournament, with one state title.
Reichenbach, who died in 2001, was the Associated Press Class AA Coach of the Year in 1959 and coached the North All-Star team to victory over the South All-Stars in 1961. He was inducted into the Elyria Sports and the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches halls of fame.
“At Bluffton, athletics taught me to realize the importance of team effort, leadership and dedication, and the need to live harmoniously with others in a sometimes conflicting and highly emotional setting. The ultimate satisfaction is to take these lessons and use them in solving problems of everyday life,” Reichenbach said.
The late Orville “Broadax” Augsburger earned nine letters at Bluffton while playing basketball, baseball, football and track.
He ran on a winning track relay team with Dwight Salzman, donor of the Athletics Hall of Fame. In his freshman and sophomore years, he was the top point-scorer in his events—the 100- and 220-yard dashes, plus the discus and broad jump.
Augsburger was the owner of a hardware implement dealership for 40 years until he retired in 1966. He was a member of Boynton Mennonite Church, Hopedale, Ill., where he was church treasurer for 30 years. Augsburger also belonged to the Lions and Civic clubs and was chair of the Tazewell County TB Board and a director of the Hopedale bank.
“While at Bluffton, I acquired the ability to meet people and made a large circle of friends,” Augsburger said. “As a result, I kept in touch with the general athletic program as well as with the entire program.”
The late Alva “Chet” Tetlow, co-captain of the 1938 football team, earned 13 letters at Bluffton in football, basketball, baseball and track. He never failed to win the pole vault event in his college career. He also served as president of the Varsity B Club.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in education, Tetlow turned to teaching and coaching at such schools as Meeker, Salem, West Branch, North Jackson and Sebring, where he led the 1955 football team to an undefeated tri-county championship. In addition to football, Tetlow coached basketball, baseball, track, soccer and golf, and he taught social studies, English, geography and physical education. He was inducted into the Sebring High School Hall of Fame in 1976.
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Tetlow served as a Sunday school teacher and superintendent. He was also a chaperon for the 1978 European tour of “America’s Youth in Concert,” an international choral and orchestra association.
“Bluffton College influenced me in many, many ways,” Tetlow said. “Fine people like Coach Burcky and his wife, Dr. Ramseyer, Russell Lantz, H.W. Berky, Agnes Amstutz and M’della Moon were extremely inspirational to me. I know that I am a better person—athletically, academically, religiously, socially—for having attended Bluffton, sharing four years with so many wonderful people.”
Tetlow died in 1999.
Theodore W. “Ted” Cunningham earned letters in football, basketball, tennis and baseball.
Cunningham was captain of the 1929 football team and was named to the all-league team from 1927-29. At one time, he held Bluffton records for the longest punt return for a touchdown (90 yards against Findlay in 1928) and the most passes intercepted in one game (five against Cedarville in 1926).
Cunningham was also selected for the all-league basketball team in 1927 and 1928 and, in tennis, was league singles champion in 1927, 1928 and 1930, as well as team captain in 1928 and 1930. He was president of Varsity B in 1929 and 1930.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology, Cunningham turned to teaching and coaching in Ohio public schools, where he served for 41 years until retiring in 1971.
After teaching and coaching football and basketball at Painesville junior high and high schools, Cunningham spent 24 years as a biology teacher and later assistant principal at Lakewood High School. He served as biology department chair from 1943-60. While at Lakewood, he received the Outstanding Science Teacher Award for Northeastern Ohio (1960), was selected a Fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science (1961) and was listed in “Leaders in Science” (1963). He also coached varsity baseball for two years—guiding his team to a co-championship of the Greater Cleveland League in 1938—and junior high football for 23 years, with a record of 106-40, plus 13 ties.
“When I came to Bluffton College, it nurtured and strengthened my beliefs, which have been the strength and wisdom of my life,” Cunningham said.
Mary Lou (Fretz) Roush earned 11 Varsity B letters as a Bluffton student and was named Outstanding Senior Woman Athlete. During her college career, she played volleyball, basketball, softball and tennis.
It was in tennis that she excelled. She held an undefeated match record during her playing career and led the women’s tennis team to an undefeated record.
She was also a member of the Pi Delta honorary, and traveling was part of her busy schedule. “As a student, I was fortunate to participate in two Mennonite study tours of several foreign countries, including Colombia and Zaire. I was with the A Cappella choir tour of Europe during the summer of 1970. Attending Bluffton provided the opportunity not only for me to meet most all students on campus, but also to develop lasting friendships with classmates, faculty and staff,” she said.
After earning a degree in elementary education in 1970, she served as an admissions counselor for Bluffton, then a lecturer in and director of the Professional Introduction to Education Program at Ohio State University’s Lima campus. She has also been a developmental reading teacher for Owens Technical, now Community, College and an elementary reading specialist in the Washington Local Schools, both near Toledo.
The late Harry V. Jump distinguished himself early on as a leader. During his freshman year at Bluffton in 1932, he managed to play football, basketball and tennis; get elected as class president; and become actively involved with the YMCA and Student Cabinet.
Jump was noted for playing a key role in the success of athletic teams in 1932. The basketball team, for instance, tied with Findlay for second place in the Northwest Ohio Conference. Jump, a stellar forward, was praised for his all-around play.
In football he was the answer to Coach Burcky’s prayers when the previous year’s quarterback graduated. “Jump not only called a perfect selection of plays but passed the ball with a keen eye and scampered for many long runs that netted scores,” noted the Ista yearbook. Jump and his teammates won the first conference championship in the history of the college with a 3-2-2 season.
His tennis agility was a positive addition to the men’s team and, for the second year in a row, the Bluffton tennis team captured the conference title.
During his sophomore year, his peers elected him co-captain of the basketball team. He was, according to the Ista, “a leader with the team because of his courage in defeat as well as in victory.” In football he was dubbed “the general” because he always had the right play at the right time, something rare in quarterbacks, noted Coach Burcky. He also began running track for Bluffton during his sophomore year.
During his junior year, he was listed as the football team’s star passer during a 3-4 season; the basketball team soared to new heights with an 11-5 record; and he continued running track. When that year ended, he had earned nine sports letters through three short years.
After three outstanding years as a leader on and off the playing field, it was only natural that he was elected captain of the 1935 football team as a senior. But Jump did not return for a fourth year. It was still the Depression, and he started teaching at Goshen Township High School in the fall of 1935. He taught for three years and in 1938, after picking up the required college courses during the summers, earned his degree in mathematics.
Jump died in 1989.
Dennis Lane accumulated seven athletic letters in high school and was the school’s Athlete of the Year his senior year. But his college career was to be even more impressive.
By the time Lane graduated in 1970, he had been named to the NAIA all-district baseball team twice and the all-district basketball team once. He finished college with eight athletic letters and received the A.C. Burcky Award as Bluffton’s outstanding senior male athlete.
Lane became a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals’ minor-league system in 1970. The English major then taught and coached at Ridgemont High School in 1972-73 before moving on to Bellefontaine High School. He has been an assistant football coach, head baseball coach, boys’ head basketball coach and girls’ basketball coach.
Lane has also been involved in several organizations relating to teaching and coaching, including the National Association of English Teachers, the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association and the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials Association.
He enjoyed Bluffton’s friendly atmosphere, which influenced him to attend when he first looked into the college. “I visited several other colleges, but nowhere did I feel that the people in the campus environment were as interested in other people as at Bluffton,” he said.
The late James Allen Creel began his Bluffton career as a leader both in sports and student organizations. In 1934, Creel’s freshman year, he was elected class president and held an exclusive backfield post the entire football season. He became involved in basketball, baseball and track as well, making a name for himself as the most versatile athlete at Bluffton.
Creel played during the A.C. Burcky era. “In athletics, under our fine coach and gentleman A.C. Burcky, I learned how to win graciously and lose gracefully, a lesson that has aided me countless times since my graduation from Bluffton,” he said.
Creel was a part of the 1937 football team that Coach Burcky called, “… the best team we have had in the history of Bluffton College.” His rushing and receiving that year made Bluffton a formidable competitor.
In basketball his freshman year, Creel began earning a reputation for aggressive play on the court. The 1934 Ista described him as having “natural basket-getting superiority” and “aggressive guarding tactics.” His basketball talents increased during his four years at Bluffton and, in a 1937 game against Findlay, he scored 24 points.
Creel also earned respect in baseball and track, and by his fourth year he held 11 athletic letters.
Creel, who died in 2000, believed in the importance of relating well with people. “The four years I spent at Bluffton taught me how to live with other people on a day-to-day basis and to respect their way of life. In whole, I learned not only academically, but tolerance and understanding as well.”
The late Robert Schaublin started his athletic career at Bluffton High School in football, basketball and track. He was a member of the best cage team in Pirate history, winning its first 23 games before losing by two points in the state finals. An honor student, he also captained the football and track teams.
Schaublin selected Bluffton College because of its strong Christian beliefs. He majored in biology and physical science and played four sports, earning 13 letters.
Schaublin later received his master’s degree from Wayne State University. He taught and coached in Ohio public schools for seven years, was an athletics director in the U.S. Army Air Corps for four years and was in education rehabilitation for three years in Veterans Administration hospitals.
In 1949, he moved to St. Clair Shores, Mich., where he served as Lakeview High School principal until 1977. After that, he taught briefly at Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska before returning to Lakeview schools as superintendent for a year. The school board later named the 2,000-seat school auditorium in his honor.
Commenting on his years at Bluffton, Schaublin noted that “Bluffton imbued me with a great interest in competitive sports along with clean Christian living. This interest led me to teaching and coaching and as a school administrator who developed a strong athletics program. I firmly believed in good discipline, a strong academic program and a well-rounded athletics program. The school yearbook stated that ‘you could see Mr. Schaublin at just about every school function.’ That’s the way I stayed close to the kids.”
Schaublin died in 2006.
The late Galen Leatherman was influenced to attend Bluffton by Olin Baumgartner, a Bluffton graduate who was Leatherman’s high school principal and coach. In time, Leatherman became the same kind of leader and role model for others in a lifetime of teaching and coaching.
At Jackson Township High School in Hoytville, Ohio, he was a three-sport letterman who captained his baseball and basketball teams and was president of the senior class.
He then won 10 varsity letters at Bluffton in football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of the baseball and basketball teams, president of Varsity B and elected Most Popular Man while at Bluffton, where he graduated in 1932 with a degree in biological science.
He returned to Hoytville as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent from 1932-42. He also served in the Army for three years, reaching the rank of sergeant. Following his military service, he spent six more years as a superintendent and coach. He stopped coaching in 1951 to concentrate on administrative duties, and he finished his education career in 1976 after serving eight years as an occupational work experience teacher at a vocational school in Milan, Ohio.
He was active in a number of professional organizations and served as president of Hoytville council.
Of those who influenced his life, Leatherman commented, “Olin Baumgartner was a hardworking and dedicated teacher who practiced what he preached. A.C. Burcky taught me to win and lose gracefully, and that winning isn’t everything. The leaders in the field of athletics must make good men better. I have tried to be that type of leader.”
Leatherman died in 1998.
William Burcky was a versatile athlete in both high school and college. At Bluffton High School, he played basketball, baseball and tennis. As a collegiate athlete, he earned four letters in tennis, three in basketball and one in track. Burcky’s campus involvement extended beyond the classroom and athletics to being president of both his senior class and the Varsity B Club.
After his graduation with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Burcky received his master’s degree in counseling from Bradley University and his doctorate in higher education and counseling from St. Louis University.
Burcky began his career in education as a teacher, coach and counselor on the secondary level in 1957. While working on his doctorate at St. Louis, he was an instructor in counselor education and director of housing in student personnel. In 1971 he became a professor at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in counselor education and later chaired the department.
Burcky has held several positions in church and civic groups, including elder, deacon and trustee in his church and chair of the Mayor’s Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. At SIU-Edwardsville, he was a member of the President’s Task Force on Athletics.
“Serving as a student leader provided me with many opportunities to experience the responsibilities which go along with those positions,” Burcky said. “Also, it has been a challenge to emulate and to add to my teaching that extra spark of dedication which the faculty at Bluffton possessed when I was a student. I can give credit to Mom, Dad, Jean Ann and the wonderful family life we shared together for establishing the characteristics I brought with me to college. Through participation in athletics, those characteristics were enhanced and further refined.”
Abe Mast played basketball, baseball and golf at Bluffton, earning four letters in each while coached by his brother, Ken. He also played basketball, football and baseball at Wadsworth High School, where he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
An art major, Abe spent 10 years as a health and physical education teacher and an assistant and head basketball coach at four high schools in northeast Ohio. He compiled a 134-51 record before leaving education.
After working as an insurance agent until 1972, he established Graphic Publications Inc., which published five weekly, free community newspapers in the Millersburg area.
“Bluffton, as a small liberal-arts institution, provided me an opportunity to expand my horizons on a variety of fronts,” Mast said. “Certainly, my participation in intercollegiate athletics played a role in helping develop skills and attitudes reflective in my coaching, teaching and business careers. Bluffton also allowed me to diversify my interests through participation in dramatics and music. These experiences, nurtured in the Bluffton environment, helped provide a sound foundation for my family life, my vocational life and my Christian life.”
Mast has been a member of Community Papers of Ohio and West Virginia, the Millersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Berlin Area Business Association. He has been commissioner of the Holmes County Little League, chair of both the Holmes County Cancer Crusade and the Longest Day of Golf for the county American Cancer Society, and a member of the Ohio Conference Renewal Committee. He has also been a member, elder and Sunday school teacher at Martins Creek Mennonite Church, Millersburg.
Jim Benroth played baseball, football and basketball at Bluffton and earned four letters in each sport. As a senior, Benroth was named first-team all-league for his efforts on the gridiron. He also played basketball and football at Cory-Rawson High School, earning two letters in each sport.
A business administration and economics major, Benroth began work at Marathon Oil Co. after graduation. Beginning as a land man and tax analyst, he took the position of field tax man in Casper, Wyo., in 1965, then returned to Ohio in 1973.
Benroth has been a member of the American Right of Way Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Ohio Athletic Association. He is an approved Ohio and international basketball official and has been a youth baseball coach.
He has also been a Sunday school teacher and superintendent at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Findlay, where he served three years as chair of the pastor-parish committee.
At Cory-Rawson, he was a member and president of the school board, as well as a Pony League baseball coach and secretary-treasurer of the Hancock County Pony League.
Benroth looks back on his Bluffton experience as inspirational and formative. “I have always been overwhelmed and grateful how my student life at Bluffton has affected my life. The warm Christian atmosphere always had its positive influence on me. The caring attitude of the faculty was always impressive and has stayed with me ever since. Sports participation was the most impressive for me as I was able to enjoy each sport so much. The friendships and relations with fellow students and opponents were always very enjoyable. This background continued to establish a positive work and participation attitude that stays with me today.”
Richard Rosenberger played football and basketball and ran track at Bluffton. He earned seven letters for his efforts, four of them in basketball. During his senior year, Rosenberger was named to the All-Mid-Ohio League basketball team. He also participated in basketball, football and track at Dalton High School.
A history major, Rosenberger went to law school following graduation. He earned his law degree in 1958 and went into general practice. Rosenberger has been a member of the American, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County and Bucks County Bar associations.
He served as deacon for the West Swamp Mennonite Church and director of the Quakertown Lions Club. He has also been a member of the General Conference Mennonite Church Division of Administration and the Bluffton Board of Trustees.
“Participation in sports was meaningful and enjoyable,” he said. “Winning is always nice, but sports are a great leveler in life and learning to accept the outcome of the game graciously provides a hedge for the game of life. I continue to see Bluffton as a place of opportunity and growth academically, physically, morally and spiritually.”
The late James Ehrman played basketball for three years—lettering twice—and tennis for one year. Graduating from Bluffton in 1939 with a degree in mathematics, he went on to earn his master’s degree in education from Kent State University in 1951. He then completed additional graduate studies at Fenn College, Western Reserve University and the University of Toledo.
For 40 years he worked in educational administration in Ohio school districts. He also served at Bluffton as director of alumni affairs in 1966-67; athletics director from 1978-80; and an associate in development from 1978-84. In addition, he was a longtime volunteer in the football press box and at the men’s basketball scorer’s table. In retirement, Ehrman worked on special projects in the development office, including organizing Homecoming and May Day events.
He received many honors at Bluffton, including the Larry Jones Memorial Award for service to the athletics department and recognition as Outstanding Alumnus in 1982.
“My most outstanding memory of Bluffton sports was a time when the team was on a trip to southern Ohio,” Ehrman said. “A restaurant refused to serve one of our players because he was black, so we all got up and walked out.”
Ehrman died in 1994.
Lynn Martin not only was a four-year letterman in both football and basketball, but he also received three golf awards and another in baseball, matching the 12 letters he had won at Mount Blanchard High School.
He was an All-Mid-Ohio Conference offensive guard on a 7-2 Bluffton football team in 1965. He was also a guard on the basketball court, and that’s where he really stood out.
He was All-MOC three times in basketball, first-team All-NAIA District 22 once and second team all-district once. He still holds the Bluffton single-game record of 19 field goals, plus a career free throw percentage of .812. He is sixth in career scoring at 1,513 points—with a 17.8 average per game—and tied for sixth in single-game scoring, with 42 points against Northwood during his sophomore season. He is also near the top of five other statistical categories, including his mark of scoring 20 or more points in 39 games.
In 1974, Martin started a successful coaching career at Van Buren High School.
As coach of the boys’ basketball Black Knights, Martin had a record of 243-96 and won seven Blanchard Valley Conference championships, 11 sectional titles, six district championships and two regional titles. His 1985 and 1986 teams were state semifinalists, and he was named BVC Coach of the Year six times.
In six years as golf coach, he led his teams to two sectional and two district championships, plus a third-place finish at the state tournament in 1984 and the state title in 1985.
He was also an assistant football coach and athletics director at Van Buren before moving on to Olentangy High School near Columbus as athletics director.
The late Reuben Conrad earned one letter each in basketball and football as a Bluffton athlete, but it was in track and field where he was a standout, earning four letters while competing in the 100- and 220-yard dashes, the long jump, javelin and mile relay. Conrad once threw the javelin more than 166 feet, which stood as the school record for many years. A history major, he also participated in several non-athletic extracurricular activities, including three years in the Men’s Glee Club and the Choral Society.
After earning his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Illinois, he was a high school teacher and coach for 10 years, coaching basketball, football and track.
Conrad then took an administrative position in Arlington Heights, Ill., as coordinator of curriculum and supervisor of instruction, serving for 28 years. At retirement, he received lifetime honorary membership in the state and national Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Conrad officiated football, basketball and track for 25 years on the high school and collegiate levels. He also entered many Senior Olympics—receiving numerous awards in tennis, track and field, basketball free throw and shuffleboard—and participated in square dancing, biking and ballroom dancing. He died in 1998.
Jim Sommer, a graduate of Pekin (Ill.) High School, earned four letters in basketball and two in football. He holds school records in basketball and earned postseason honors in both sports.
In basketball, Sommer holds the single-game mark for rebounds (29) and career records for most rebounds (1,030) and best rebound average (12.4). He led the team in rebounding three years and in scoring once.
Sommer was first-team All-Mid-Ohio Conference twice in basketball and a second-team selection once, and was first-team All-NAIA District 22 once.
He led the football team in receiving twice and was the first non-back ever to lead the Beavers in scoring (50 points in 1967). Sommer had eight touchdown receptions that year. He was All-MOC twice in football and earned first-team all-district honors once.
Sommer, who graduated in 1968 with a major in business administration, taught and coached at Delphos Jefferson High School for four years and served as sales manager at Sommer Brothers Seed Co.
Barbara Boutwell earned three letters in basketball, two in volleyball and one in tennis, and was president of Women’s Varsity B at Bluffton.
She received her bachelor’s degree in 1968 with a major in elementary education and, in 1987, earned a master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University.
Boutwell taught fifth grade and coached in Wapakoneta City Schools from 1968-85. During that time, she initiated and coached girls’ basketball, volleyball, track and tennis, plus boys’ tennis. She was the Western Buckeye League tennis Coach of the Year in 1981.
Boutwell also coached tennis at Bluffton in 1981 and 1982 and was a tennis instructor at Orchard Hill Tennis Club in Lima from 1983-85 and at Ohio State University-Lima in 1985. As a player, she won 125 first- or second-place trophies from 1969-85 and was ranked fourth in the seven-state Western Tennis Association in 1983-84.
Boutwell then went on to teach fifth grade, along with seventh- and ninth-grade mathematics, in Fontana, Calif.
Clair Recker was the high scorer on three of the highest-scoring men’s basketball teams in Bluffton history, from 1970-73. He held the season and career scoring records for 13 years and still holds records on the single-game and season lists.
Recker earned first-team All-Mid-Ohio Conference honors and second-team All-NAIA District 22 recognition as a sophomore. As both a junior and senior, he was first-team All-Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference and first-team all-district.
Recker averaged 20.3 points per game for his career and led Bluffton in scoring for three seasons. He was the first player to score 40 or more points in a game twice and six times scored 35 or more, another Bluffton mark. His most memorable game was against Malone in 1972-73, when he set the then-single-game scoring record with 44 points in Bluffton’s only NAIA District 22 playoff victory.
Recker, who majored in English, coached junior varsity basketball at Cory-Rawson High School for a year and varsity basketball at Leipsic High School for four years. He then entered private industry in management.
The late Aser Nurmi, also known as “Paavo” or “Ace,” was born in Finland and came to the United States when he was about 7 years old. He graduated from Painesville Harvey High School in 1934.
Nurmi was a four-year basketball letterman who played on two of Bluffton’s best teams prior to World War II. The 1934-35 team was 11-5, while the 1935-36 team, with a 12-4 record, matched Bluffton’s all-time best winning percentage and was co-champion of the Northwest Ohio Conference.
The Cleveland Pressonce called Nurmi “inch-for-inch the best player to appear on the Western Reserve court.” The former Bluffton captain recalled his greatest thrill as “racing down the court and throwing in a hook shot from the corner at the last second that gave the Beavers a one-point win over previously undefeated Defiance.”
Nurmi played a few years of semi-pro basketball. He later served on a variety of community and professional boards.
Following his graduation in 1939 with a physical science major, Nurmi held various management positions with Industrial Rayon Corp. until 1972, when he joined R.W. Sidley Inc. as a vice president and director. He retired as company vice president in 1984 but remained on the board. Nurmi died in 2001.
Jennifer (Liechty) Zickafoose, a three-sport standout, was the fifth woman inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame.
Zickafoose, a graduate of South Adams High School in Berne, Ind., earned two letters in basketball, three in tennis and four in volleyball at Bluffton. She captained the volleyball team her final two years.
She has coached several sports since graduation, directing Bluffton’s tennis program for two years and serving as swim coach at Lima Senior High School four years, at Shawnee High School one year, at Shawnee Country Club three summers and for the Lima YMCA. She has also coached volleyball for several years at the junior high and assistant varsity levels. Two of her Bluffton tennis players qualified for and played in the national tournament in 1984.
Zickafoose served as aquatics director for the Lima YMCA for two years and has taught seventh- and eighth-grade learning disabled students at Lima South Middle School. She received the Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award in 1994 for her work with exceptional children. Zickafoose also went on to pursue her master’s degree in reading at The Ohio State University.
Glenn Snyder was a football player, longtime coach and administrator at Bluffton.
Snyder coached the Bluffton men’s basketball team for 14 years—the fourth-longest men’s hoops tenure—while recording, at the time, the most wins and best percentage of anyone who had coached more than three years.
Snyder taught in the health, fitness and sport science department and also had stints as head tennis coach and an assistant football and baseball coach. He was Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference tennis Coach of the Year in 1985.
During his 20 years at Bluffton, he also served as director of admissions, dean of men, director of Marbeck Center, acting dean of students, athletics director, a department chair and faculty chair.
Snyder played football for four years as a Bluffton student, earning All-Mid-Ohio League honors at center as a senior.
A native of Girard, Ohio, he holds a master’s degree from Kent State University and a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. He has also coached, taught and/or been an administrator at Fresno Pacific, Bethel, the United States Sports Academy and the International School of Theology.
John Brown was a three-sport athlete and one of Bluffton’s best all-around basketball players.
A graduate of Elida High School, he became the first Bluffton men’s cager to play 100 games. He is among the Beavers’ season and career leaders in several categories, averaging 16.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game over his four years.
He is on the career lists for scoring, field goals, field goals attempted, rebounds, free throws and free throws attempted. His 23 rebounds against Cedarville are tied for third on the single-game rebounds chart.
The 6-3 Brown normally guarded the opposition’s big man, and he was voted the Beavers’ best defensive player each year of his career. He was first-team All-Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference and All-NAIA District 22 in 1972-73, and second-team all-district in 1971-72.
Brown also lettered in cross country and golf at Bluffton. He later coached the men’s basketball team while working in the admissions office.
He has been a teacher, coach and administrator in the Lima public school system, including serving as principal at South Middle School. Brown received his master’s degree from the University of Dayton and a doctorate from the University of Sarasota (Fla.).
The late James Bishop was a four-year letterman in football, baseball and basketball, earning All-Mid-Ohio Conference honors as a football center in 1955. He was considered the ultimate team player and could play any of the line positions.
Jim was more than an athlete, though. He was active in musical groups, was on the Homecoming court and, as a senior, was voted Most Popular Man for May Day ceremonies and appeared in “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.” Bishop was also a member of Student Council, an officer in the Student Christian Association, president of the Bluffton Choir and active in Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
Following graduation, he worked 26 years for General Motors. He then spent 10 years as a regional manager with Electronic Data Systems before retiring.
Bishop was a member of Plymouth (Mich.) United Methodist Church and its finance committee, a volunteer with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and, until retirement, an avid golfer.
Bishop died in 1995 following a three-year battle with cancer.
Cheryl (Althaus) Bareiter was a four-year letter winner in volleyball, basketball and softball, and earned the Kathryn Little Award as the outstanding senior female athlete in 1983.
She was second-team All-Western Buckeye Collegiate Conference in volleyball in 1982, leading Bluffton in hitting percentage.
In basketball, she shares the single-game scoring mark, with 33 points against Heidelberg her sophomore season; led her team in scoring three years; and is one of six Bluffton women to surpass 1,000 career points. She was second-team All-WBCC and honorable mention all-district in 1983.
An elementary education major at Bluffton, Bareiter added a master’s degree in outdoor education from the University of Akron in 1994. She taught and coached for 10 years at Pandora-Gilboa before moving to Wadsworth City Schools. As girls’ basketball coach at Pandora-Gilboa, she led the first Rocket team to reach the regional tournament in any sport.
Bareiter is also a member of the Wadsworth and Medina County halls of fame.
Janice Althaus was a Bluffton standout in volleyball, softball and basketball. She won four letters in both volleyball and basketball and three in softball, missing a fourth when she coached a high school team one spring. She received the Kathryn Little Award as the outstanding senior woman athlete in 1980.
During the 1976-77 basketball season, she led Bluffton in scoring with 15.1 points per game, tied for the rebounding lead at 10.2 per game and paced the squad in field goal shooting.
An education major at Bluffton, Althaus received her master’s degree in outdoor recreation from the University of Akron in 1994. She has taught high school health and physical education at Wadsworth High School. She was a varsity volleyball coach for 11 years, after coaching the junior varsity five seasons. She was also a girls’ junior varsity basketball coach for 11 years.
She attends First Mennonite Church in Wadsworth, where she has served as a senior deacon.
Beth (Crates) Stone is a Kenton (Ohio) High School graduate who played basketball and tennis for two years at Bluffton after receiving her associate degree in business from Northwestern Business College.
In basketball, Stone is tied for second in career assists (335) and is first in assists per game (7.3). She also holds the season assist record (198 as a senior in 1984-85) and the single-game assist mark of 15, which she reached twice that season, when she received NAIA District 22 honorable mention. In addition, she led the team in free throw percentage (.724) and steals (72) that year. She ended her career with a .661 free throw percentage.
As a tennis player, she had a spectacular senior year, going 26-6 in singles and doubles, winning the NAIA District 22 doubles
semifinals with Margaret Fisher, and advancing to the national tournament at Kansas City in both singles and doubles.
She said she had never forgotten the statement posted in Founders Hall: “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” She added, “Bluffton helped me to be myself and accept others for who they are.”
Stone, who later coached tennis and assisted with basketball at Bluffton, has been employed in administrative support at Kuss Corp., Findlay.
The late Fred Liechty played three sports at Bluffton after graduating from Berne (Ind.) High School. He lettered twice in football and four times each in basketball and baseball.
In baseball, he was the leading hitter all four years and posted a .577 average in 1948. His other extracurricular activities included Student Christian Association, Men’s Glee Club and May Day chair in 1949. He was also voted Most Popular Man on campus in 1950.
Most of Liechty’s subsequent career was spent at First Bank of Berne, where he served 16 years as cashier, 23 years as a director and 12 years as president before retiring in 1993.
He was active on the Adams County Migrant Committee and the First Mennonite Refugee Resettlement Committee. A Sunday school teacher for 41 years, he had also been president of the Mennonite Choral Society and was a Mennonite Biblical Seminary board member for 17 years.
Liechty, who died in 2012, credited Bluffton with helping him grow and mature, saying he had been impressed with the friendly attitude of people on campus. He also noted that his exposure to Mennonite thinking about service and peace issues changed his position on the military draft. “Bluffton became my family for four years and gave me values that have shaped my life and that of my family,” he said.
With a 15-5 record, the 1981-82 women’s basketball team has the best winning percentage in Bluffton women’s history. Unfortunately, the team was not in a league at that time, and there is no record of postseason individual honors.
Coach Kim Fischer’s team also holds school marks for points per game (77), winning margin (11.5), field goal percentage (.445) and single-season winning streak (six).
Individual statistical leaders included Cheryl Althaus in scoring, Venessa Beach in rebounding, Tina Verhoff in field goal percentage and assists, and Amy White in steals. Althaus and Verhoff, members of the Athletics Hall of Fame along with White, are near the top of the career scoring list, and Verhoff is also near the top in career rebounding.
The 1965-66 men’s basketball team, coached by Ken Mast, posted the best winning percentage in modern Bluffton history, going 17-6 and winning the Mid-Ohio League title. The Beavers’ 9-1 mark in the MOL represented the only league title won by a Bluffton men’s basketball team in the previous 50 years.
The team holds school season records for most wins (10) and best winning percentage (.833) in Founders Hall, most rebounds (1,317), highest rebound average (57.3), highest rebound margin (9.4), and highest averages for free throws made (20.2) and attempted (28.7). Bluffton put together two six-game winning streaks and scored 100 or more points three times.
Team members Lynn Martin, Jim Sommer and Alex Clark were first-team All-MOL. Martin was also first-team all-district, while Clark received second-team all-district honors.
Martin and Sommer, along with teammate Mark Froning, are among the top 10 Bluffton career scorers and in the Athletics Hall of Fame. Sommer and Clark are ranked first and fourth, respectively, in career rebounding.
Peter DuMonte holds more Bluffton men’s basketball records than any other player, including one that seems unapproachable–scoring in double figures in every game he played (105). He scored 20 points or more in 71 games and 30 or more 18 times. He averaged more than 20 points per game all four years and was selected to the NAIA District 22 first team each year.
DuMonte holds Bluffton career records for points (2,416), scoring average (23.0), field goals made (996), field goals made per game (9.5), field goals attempted (1,810) and field goals attempted per game (17.2).
He has been a teacher in Carey, Ohio, schools and an assistant basketball coach at Tiffin University.
Janice Bruner was described by her coach, Kim Fischer, as “one of the best pure shooters among women’s basketball players at Bluffton.” Bruner, who was also a standout in volleyball, had the most career points (1,121), field goals (497) and field goal attempts (1,135) at the time of her graduation in 1986. Her field goals record still stands.
In 1985-86 she set the season mark—also still standing—for field goals made (165) while earning first-team Western Buckeye Collegiate Conference honors. The previous year she was second-team All-WBCC and honorable mention all-district. She led the team in scoring her last two years and was at the top in six statistical categories as a senior. An outside hitter on the volleyball team, she led Bluffton in service aces in 1985.
Bruner has been a social studies teacher at Hilltop High School in the Millcreek-West Unity school system.
Amy White was a four-year letter winner in basketball and received one softball award. On the court, she was the starting point guard all four years, led the team in assists in 1979-80, captained the 1981-82 team that is in the Hall of Fame, led the team in steals that year and is among Bluffton’s career scoring leaders.
A graduate of Leipsic High School, she coached volleyball and basketball and taught at Allen East High School for four years before moving to the Bowling Green school system, where she coached basketball for four years. In 1991-92, her team won the Northern Lakes League title and she was named NLL Coach of the Year and coached the North team in the All Star Cage Classic. White received her master’s degree in education (guidance and counseling) from Bowling Green State University in 1995 and has been a counselor in Bowling Green City Schools.
Cynthia (Sindelar) Gilbert made her mark on Bluffton athletics as a four-year letter winner in three sports in the early 1980s. She starred in volleyball, basketball and softball, and is a member of one team in the Athletics Hall of Fame—the 1981-82 women’s basketball squad she co-captained as a junior.
Gilbert was a powerful attacker for Coach Kim Fischer’s volleyball teams from 1979-82, but was exceptional at all positions on the court. In her senior season, she was named first-team All-NAIA District 22 after leading Bluffton to the 1982 district championship and a 25-7 record. She led the team in kills (53), aces (13), serve reception percentage (.804) and digs (195) that season and was a team leader in almost every statistic throughout her four-year career.
On the basketball court, Gilbert was ranked as high as 14th on Bluffton’s all-time scoring list and seventh on the all-time steals list. Her 155 points as a freshman was the eighth-best point total for a first-year player in Bluffton history, and she was the 11th player to score more than 100 points in four straight seasons. Gilbert twice led her team in assists and free throw percentage, and she is one of only a handful of juniors to serve as a Bluffton captain.
A softball infielder, Gilbert twice hit over .400 and helped lead Bluffton to the Western Buckeye Collegiate Conference championship her senior year in 1983. The year before, her 25 hits and five triples both led the team.
Gilbert, who earned her master’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1998, has taught math and computer classes and served as technology coordinator in the Elgin school system in Marion, Ohio. She has also coached volleyball, basketball and softball, and took Elgin to its first-ever state softball tournament appearance.
Tina Verhoff ’85 returned to the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000 after being inducted in 1998 as a member of the 1981-82 women’s basketball team. For her second induction, though, Verhoff stood alone based on her historic career on the court.
Verhoff lettered four years for Bluffton and helped lead the Beavers to a .500 or winning conference record each year. She was a first-team All-Western Buckeye Collegiate Conference selection her junior and senior years and earned honorable mention NAIA District 22 honors both years.
Her junior season, in 1983-84, was arguably one of the greatest ever recorded by a Bluffton women’s basketball player. She set school records for points (368), points per game (16.0), rebounds (200) and assists (137). All those marks still rank high in the record book. She also led Coach Kim Fischer’s team in steals and free throw percentage that season.
On Feb. 21, 1984, against Siena Heights in Founders Hall, Verhoff connected on 11 of 12 field goal attempts, good for a .917 field goal percentage that still stands as the best single-game shooting display in Bluffton women’s history. She led her team in field goal percentage her freshman, junior and senior seasons.
Verhoff’s 535 career rebounds are seventh all-time and her 953 points rank eighth. She was also an Academic All-Ohio selection her senior year and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Wright State University in 1991. After teaching junior high school science and coaching volleyball and basketball for nine years, she became human resources manager for TRI-STAR Community Counseling Inc. in Lima.
One of the most versatile performers to ever step onto the basketball court at Bluffton, Denny Thompson ’78 is listed in almost every statistical category in the record book, and at or near the top of several.
A first-team All-Hoosier-Buckeye Conference and NAIA District 22 selection his senior year, Thompson scored 536 points for an average of 22.3 points per game, sixth best all-time at Bluffton. On defense that season, he recorded 82 steals and averaged 3.4 per game—still school records.
Thompson also led Coach Glenn Snyder’s squad in rebounding his sophomore and junior seasons, averaging more than eight per game. He is one of just nine Bluffton players to collect at least 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. His 654 career rebounds also rank ninth all-time.
Thompson’s .528 field goal percentage as a junior led his team and, against Hanover his senior year, he sank 13 of 13 free throws—a perfect percentage equaled only five times by Bluffton players with at least that many attempts.
His 327 points as a sophomore also led the team, and he ended his career with 1,296 points, ranking him 11th all-time. He scored 20 or more points in a game 30 times and is among roughly a dozen Bluffton players to score 300 or more points in three different seasons.
Thompson taught at Montpelier and Lima Bath before moving on to Elida High School, where he was a longtime teacher, varsity golf coach and junior varsity boys’ basketball coach. He was honored several times as Western Buckeye League golf coach of the year. He and his wife Janna (Saxton ’79) have three children.
A three-sport standout for Bluffton in the early 1960s, Dennis Bishop ’63 entered the Athletics Hall of Fame with an impressive list of credentials.
A four-year track performer, Bishop was a member of the mile relay squad that turned in a 3:27.7 effort his junior year, good for a Bluffton and Mid-Ohio League record that stood until 1969. Joining him on that record-setting relay were Terry Marshall ’64, Dale Schiffke ’64 and fellow 2000 Hall of Fame inductee Larry Copeland ’65. Individually, Bishop won or placed high in nearly every 880-yard race he entered for four years, and also turned in impressive times in the 440-yard dash.
On the football field, he was a member of two MOL championship teams coached by Ken Mast. A valuable weapon at both offensive and defensive end, he averaged 25 yards per catch as a senior as the Beavers turned in a 7-2 campaign for the league title. Bishop also lettered two years in basketball and was among the team leaders in rebounds.
Bishop received the A.C. Burcky Award as a senior and graduated with a degree in biology. He taught at Liberty Center and Findlay high schools and at Hagerstown (Md.) Junior College before founding a real estate management company in Findlay. He went on to become part owner of a plastics company and a farmer.
In 1996, Bishop became involved with Global Resources Foundation, which led him to aid Christian farmers and business people in the Ukraine. He has also teamed with The CoMission, which reaches out to the educational system in Russia.
A four-year standout at both the offensive and defensive ends of the court, Suzanne (Brown ’85) Hollabaugh was an integral part of Bluffton women’s basketball in the early 1980s. She is ranked in six career statistics and was a member of the 1981-82 squad that posted a 15-5 record and was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.
A native of Antwerp, Ohio, Hollabaugh scored 687 points and grabbed 421 rebounds in her career at Bluffton. Her point total ranked fourth when she graduated and her rebound total ranked third. Hollabaugh’s .771 career free throw percentage was a Bluffton record when she graduated and today is tied for fifth, while her 140 steals now rank eighth.
As a sophomore, Hollabaugh was a first-team All-Western Buckeye Collegiate Conference selection as she led the Beavers in scoring, free throw percentage, assists and steals—a feat accomplished by few other players in Bluffton women’s basketball history. For the next two seasons, she led Bluffton and the entire WBCC in free throw percentage and was among the conference leaders in assists and steals.
Hollabaugh, who earned a degree in health, physical education and recreation, helped the Beavers to 45 wins during her four years.
Following her graduation in 1985, Hollabaugh taught physical education in the DeKalb Eastern school system in Butler, Ind., for four years before moving on to the Edon school system in northwest Ohio. She has coached basketball, softball, volleyball and golf, and guided the Edon girls’ basketball squad to its first-ever sectional championship in 1995.
In 1984-85, Glenn Snyder’s 14th and final season as head coach of the Bluffton men’s basketball team, the Beavers posted an 18-10 record and were ranked fifth in NAIA District 22. The 18 wins remain tied for the highest win total in nearly 100 seasons of Bluffton men’s basketball.
Bluffton won a school-record 12 road games that season and set another Bluffton record with 475 assists. The Beavers finished the season with a 7-5 record in the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference to finish as the conference runner-up.
Sophomore Pete DuMonte was named all-conference, all-district and honorable mention All-American as he led the team in scoring with 21.2 points per game and rebounding with 9.6 boards per game. Senior Tim Walters and sophomore Bruce Andrews both received honorable mention all-conference honors, and Andrews also picked up honorable mention all-district honors.
Other members of the team included assistant coach Jan Sorgenfrei and varsity players Mike Bruns, Kevin Chalk, Jon Eichar, Jim Hoepf, Todd Koch, Brian Nelson, Dave Sluss, Bob Snyder and Jerry Vanderhorst.
Tom Reichenbach quarterbacked the 1956 and 1957 football teams to Mid-Ohio League championships and earned two all-league selections. As a freshman, he earned varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and track. In his collegiate career, he was a four-year letter winner in football and baseball and a two-year letter winner in basketball, along with his one letter in track.
He led the 1956 football team to an outstanding season, for which the team is already enshrined in the Athletics Hall of Fame. His most memorable Bluffton sports moment was defeating Findlay, 34-13, in 1956 in front of 6,500 fans at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
During his time at Bluffton, Reichenbach was also involved in choir. During his junior and senior years, he sang in an octet that performed at many events in the Bluffton area.
He has been employed with Lincoln National Life as a regional manager, and has also been general manager for the employee benefits division of the Washington, D.C., office.
Reichenbach, of Bethesda, Md., has been an active Lions Club member and officer, as well as a member, choir member and finance committee chair at a local Methodist church.
Rob Sheldon was a two-year letter winner in both basketball and baseball. A 1973 graduate in education, he went on to earn a master’s degree in administration from Bowling Green State University in 1977.
Following stints at Ottawa-Glandorf and North Central high schools, Rob moved his family to Bucyrus, Ohio, and took over as head basketball coach at Wynford High School—a position he held for 24 years. In addition to coaching, Sheldon served as assistant principal and athletics director at Wynford.
Sheldon led his teams to nine league championships, 18 sectional championships, seven district championships, two regional championships and a state runner-up finish in 1988 while compiling a 401-156 record at Wynford. He coached in the North-South, Ohio-Michigan and Wendy’s Classic games. In 2003, following his final season at Wynford, Sheldon received the Paul Walker Award, named after the legendary Middletown High School coach.
Sheldon was inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005.
Terri Blosser graduated from Bluffton in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation. She earned four letters as a standout volleyball player from 1983-86. Blosser’s 1985 volleyball team was enshrined in the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996. She was also a three-year letter winner on the basketball court.
Blosser received the Kathryn E. Little Award her senior year for her athletic achievements. She was also honored with the HPER Outstanding Scholar Award upon graduation from Bluffton. In 1993, Blosser completed her master’s degree in physical education at Bowling Green State University.
Paul B. Jackson graduated from Bluffton in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was a three-sport athlete as a Beaver, with his greatest accomplishments coming on the hardwood. In the first basketball game in Founders Hall, Jackson scored the winning basket against Ashland. In addition to being a four-year letter winner and captain of the basketball team, he lettered three years on the baseball diamond and once in track and field.
Jackson has been involved with many aspects of athletics in northwest Ohio. He has served Bluffton as a computer programmer and a volunteer clock operator at women’s basketball games.
Stapleton was a four-year letterman in basketball and a team captain his final three years. When he graduated in 1978 with a degree in education, he was Bluffton’s leader in career assists (306) and among the top 10 in career scoring (1,192 points). He now ranks third in assists and 14th in scoring, as well as second in career steals (155). He is the only player in Bluffton history with at least 1,000 points, 300 assists and 150 steals.
A graduate of Brookside High School in Sheffield, Ohio, Stapleton is senior vice president of Motorists Insurance Group and chief operating officer of Iowa Mutual Insurance Group and Phenix Mutual Fire Insurance Co. The New Albany, Ohio, resident has been a member of the Central Ohio Red Cross board and president of the Pickerington, Ohio, Youth Athletic Association.
The late Roger Howe enrolled at Bluffton in 1946 after serving in World War II. The Bluffton native played basketball, football and tennis, earning multiple varsity letters. He was named the outstanding athlete of 1947 at Bluffton, where he was also involved in music and theatre, among other campus activities.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1949, Howe embarked on an education career, working as a teacher, coach and principal in Ohio; as superintendent of schools in Ohio and Illinois; and as a faculty member at universities in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri. Along the way, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University, respectively.
Mark Froning was a member of Mid-Ohio Conference (MOC) championship teams in both basketball and baseball and an all-conference selection in both sports. He is already in the Bluffton Hall of Fame as part of the previously inducted 1965-66 basketball and 1967 baseball teams. Eighth on the career basketball scoring list with 1,414 points, he averaged 17.2 points per game and scored at least 20 points in 39 of his 82 games. He is still first in career free throws made, with 424, and second in attempts (550). As a junior in 1966-67, Froning was named second-team NAIA District 22 as well as first-team all-MOC.
Graduating from Bluffton with a psychology degree, Froning became a teacher and coach in Fremont, Ohio. In 1973, he added a master’s degree in school psychology from Bowling Green State University and embarked on a 30-year career in Findlay City Schools, first as a school psychologist and then, from 1979-2003, as director of student services. He retired in 2003 and has since been a psychologist at St. Michael School in Findlay.