Hall of Fame class of 2013 recounts memories of Concordia
By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director
At Friday night’s annual homecoming banquet, four individuals and one team will officially be inducted into the Concordia University Athletic Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame class of 2013 features alums who commenced their time as Concordia students as long ago as 1982 and as recent as 2005. It also will include an individual who has served the university dating back to 1956.
While the distinguished class is made up of honorees from different eras, they all share a common bond that goes beyond their contributions to Bulldog athletics and the fact that they will be inducted into an elite group on the same evening. All have been and continue to be deeply impacted by their experiences at Concordia.
“Concordia helped shape my future in so many ways,” wrote 1981 volleyball team member Denise (Wehrman) Hennig. “The friendships I developed are still dear to me today. Over 30 years later, I still feel a deep connection to Concordia, as it helped me prepare for service to our Lord in teaching ministry.”
Hennig, one of several from the 1981 volleyball team who met their future husbands at Concordia, is not alone in her affection for her alma mater. Teammate Deborah (Wolforth) Barroso described the welcoming environment that characterizes Concordia.
“The students, coaches and staff made you feel at home,” Barroso said. “I enjoyed every minute that I was at Concordia. Everyone made me feel like family.”
Thus, it was only fitting that the team co-MVPs, stars of a Bulldog volleyball team that went 35-8 and won the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, actually did become family when Karen (Zobel) Hight married the brother of teammate Susan (Hight) Rogers.
Such stories are not uncommon in an environment that brings people closer together. For six-time NAIA pole vault champion T.J. Kloster, his years spent at Concordia proved just as enriching.
“During my time at Concordia I was surrounded by quality individuals and organizations that influenced who I am today,” Kloster wrote. “My relationships with coaches, fellow athletes and Concordia staff/professors all helped to develop my character in different ways. I’m proud to be the person I am today thanks to the environment and culture Concordia provides to students.”
Both Molly (Engel) Christensen, a 2005 graduate and cross country and track and field standout, and Kari (Saving) Keithley, an ’05 grad and one of Concordia’s top basketball players in program history, referenced the impact of specific coaches upon their development as people and athletes.
Wrote Christensen, “Coach (Kregg) Einspahr taught me that you have to work hard to have success whether on the track or in the classroom. His positive influence helped me go on to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to become a registered nurse.”
Keithley, who tallied 1,773 career points on the hardwood, credits her coaching staff with allowing her to rise to such significant heights that have ultimately led to her Hall of Fame induction.
“Concordia’s coaches pushed my abilities in ways I had never been pushed before,” Keithley wrote. “I became the athlete I was because of the dedication and drive provided by my coaching staff of Micah Parker, Todd Voss and Angela Muller.”
Bob Pflieger, the final Hall of Fame member of the class of 2013, graduated from Concordia Teachers College of River Forest, Ill., but found himself at Concordia of Nebraska soon after, beginning a tenure that would provide benefits beyond measure to both the school and Pflieger.
The longtime faculty athletic representative remains a fixture on the Bulldog Booster Club and at Concordia athletic events.
“I am totally dedicated to Concordia – its athletic programs, athletes and coaches,” Pflieger wrote. “I try to attend as many games and matches as I can. I value the relationships that I have made with coaches and students over the years. I will always be a Bulldog.”
On Friday these four individuals and one team will meet at a school that helped produce memories that live on. They will come from their homes as far away as California and Texas and as near as Lincoln, Neb., to take their places amongst a select group. Undoubtedly, stories of how Concordia added to their lives will illuminate a special evening.
2012-13 Concordia senior athletes of the year Colin Morrissey and Katie Rich will also be recognized at Friday’s Athletic Hall of Fame banquet. For more on the accomplishments of Morrissey and Rich, click HERE.
10 October 2013
Kari (Saving) Keithley is one of four individuals and one team that will be inducted into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday night.