Barry McNamara  |  Published October 23, 2021

The Monmouth Arc

At Homecoming 2021, Monmouth community celebrates the values and experiences that contributed to the ascending arcs of its alumni’s lives.

Students enjoy the annual fireworks show after Spirit Shout, held Friday night at April Zorn Memo... Students enjoy the annual fireworks show after Spirit Shout, held Friday night at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College homecoming – particularly its Alumni Impact Awards – was listed by President Clarence R. Wyatt as one of his favorite annual events at the College.

Along with matriculation in August and commencement in May, Wyatt said “these three occasions form a continuum – an arc – that moves through our lives.” The Monmouth community celebrated its 2021 homecoming Oct. 22-24.

“At the Alumni Impact Awards, we recognize and celebrate how that arc has ascended. … We recognize how Monmouth College changes not only the arcs of the lives we celebrate here, but of all those who are part of the Monmouth College community,” he said at the ceremony, which was held Friday night in the Huff Athletic Center. “At this ceremony, we also celebrate how these lives change the arc of so many others. That is the deep and enduring mission of Monmouth College.”

See More: Check out more than 1,500 photos from Homecoming 2021.

Among those celebrated for changing the arcs of others’ lives was Illinois State Sen. Mattie Hunter ’76, who was inducted into the Hall of Achievement, the highest honor Monmouth bestows upon its graduates.

“Being raised in public housing in Chicago, I got a front seat to the many injustices that occurred simply because of the color of your skin,” said Hunter. “Even as a young girl, I knew that I could not sit back and watch this happen. I made it my life’s mission to do what I could to help bring justice to those unjust systems.”

A Democratic senator from Chicago’s 3rd District for the past two decades, Hunter is now fourth in seniority in the Senate.

“My whole political career started right here on campus,” she said.

How Monmouth makes them feel

Another of the weekend’s honorees, Greek Life Hall of Fame inductee Gena Corbin Alcorn ’88, recalled that at the beginning of her arc in 1984, she was a first-generation college student. Her experience in Kappa Kappa Gamma, which grew to include leadership roles, helped her arc ascend.

Alcorn became emotional while discussing the confidence she found in herself at Monmouth and particularly through her Kappa involvement. Today, Alcorn is the College’s director of development and legacy giving and remains active as an adviser for the College’s Alpha Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Also inducted into the Greek Life Hall of Fame on Saturday morning were Jeff Bakker ’90, Mike Danner ’91 and the late Louise Lauder Roos ’49.

Illinois State Sen. Mattie Hunter '76: My whole political career started right here on campus. Illinois State Sen. Mattie Hunter ’76: “My whole political career started right here on campus.”In her closing remarks, Alcorn referenced a famous quotation that summarizes not only what her Kappa involvement did for her, but what Monmouth College does for the members of its community: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That sentiment showed in the remarks by Director of Athletics Roger Haynes at Saturday morning’s M Club Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which opened with the unveiling of a plaque memorializing the late Tom Burek, the Fighting Scots swim coach who died last year of complications caused by COVID-19.

“I miss him on a daily basis,” said an emotional Haynes. “I miss his straightforward leadership and his mentoring of our young coaches. I miss his brilliant mind and talking with him about the similarities between training track kids and swim kids.”

Visit the Homecoming media page, which features all of the stories, videos of the events and of course lots of pictures.

The three inductees were national pole vault champion Peter Sprecher ’08, championship-winning coach Kathy Wagoner and All-American linebacker Justin Zigler ’06.

During his time at the podium, Zigler said of one of his children: “Easton’s middle name is Scot. That’s how much Monmouth means to me.”

Sprecher said a recruiting trip by Haynes to the Peoria Journal-Star track meet started him on his path to Monmouth.

“I am who I am today because of my family’s values and my experience at Monmouth,” he said.

Teamwork and family

Sprecher also commented on how track and field is often viewed as an individual sport, but how Haynes changed that dynamic for him.

“I learned that track can be a team sport,” said Sprecher. “Coach Haynes brought us all together as a team.”

“(My son’s) middle name is Scot. That’s how much Monmouth means to me.”
Justin Zigler ’06, M Club Hall of Fame

That team aspect was also celebrated on the academic side by chemistry professor Laura Moore, who received the College’s Hatch Award for Distinguished Teaching during the Alumni Impact Awards ceremony.

“Teaching and learning at Monmouth is best done as a team effort, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this team,” said Moore, who called her College faculty position “the best and most interesting job I could ever hope to have.”

Other honorees Friday evening included the other inductee into the College’s Hall of Achievement, nephrologist Dr. Frederick Kaskel ’67. Kaskel’s classmate, Wendell Shauman, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. NFL assistant coach Alex Tanney ’11 was named the Distinguished Young Alumnus; College Editor and Historian Jeff Rankin received the Distinguished Service Award; and the Sondgeroth family accepted the Family of the Year honor.

Hand in hand with teamwork is the family atmosphere created at Monmouth, which Kim Buckert Fox ’88 mentioned as she presented Wagoner for induction into the M Club Hall of Fame.

“She cared about us,” said Fox. “Her teams were definitely family.”

Although she vividly related the story of a championship-winning moment in softball, Wagoner said most of her favorite coaching experiences at Monmouth didn’t happen while the ball was in play.

“My memories are about the relationships formed with the players,” she said. “The trials and tribulations we faced were so much more important than wins. And then watching them graduate and go on to outstanding careers. Watching their families grow is especially rewarding. Your athletes really do become your family.”

“Teaching and learning at Monmouth is best done as a team effort, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this team.”
Laura Moore, chemistry professor and recipient of Hatch Award for Distinguished Teaching

As the Alumni Impact Awards wrapped up Friday night in the Huff Athletic Center, the ball was put in play on the other side of the concourse. Monmouth’s volleyball team swept Lawrence, then followed up Saturday afternoon with another sweep against Ripon to lock up a Midwest Conference playoff berth.

At Peacock Memorial Athletic Park, the women’s soccer team held on for a 1-1 tie against Beloit to keep their MWC playoff hopes very much alive. Back on campus, the football team cruised to a 47-14 victory over Cornell at April Zorn Memorial Stadium, setting up next week’s showdown at home against unbeaten Lake Forest.

Zorn Stadium was also the site of Friday night’s Spirit Shout, where Mason Sanford ’22 of Peoria, Illinois, was crowned Homecoming King and Alex Chamberlin ’23 of Canton, Illinois was crowned Homecoming Queen.

Earlier in the day, Monmouth College’s new labyrinth – which is located behind Wallace Hall – was formally dedicated. The labyrinth was made possible by a gift from Jon Dahl ’75 and his wife, Barbara.

The labyrinth “will provide a safe space for others to meditate, self-reflect, and reduce stress and perhaps help guide many along their spiritual journeys,” Lina Jursa ’24 of Flossmoor, Illinois, said at the ceremony.

Director of Athletics Roger Haynes speaks at Saturday morning's M Club Hall of Fame induction cer... Director of Athletics Roger Haynes speaks at Saturday morning's M Club Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which opened with the unveiling of a plaque memorializing the late Tom Burek, the Fighting Scots swim coach who died last year of complications caused by COVID-19.

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