Barry McNamara  |  Published September 25, 2023

Four Alumni Authors

Chris Pio ’84, Joe Svoboda ’75, Colleen and Roy Sye ’13 to discuss their college-themed books at Homecoming.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Four alumni authors will be on campus during Monmouth College Homecoming weekend activities, and two of the books will be promoted at scheduled events.

Chris Pio ’84, Joe Svoboda ’75 and the husband-and-wife team of Roy and Colleen Sinclair Sye ’13 have each completed a book project this year and hope that the traditionally large Monmouth Homecoming crowd will help spread the word.

In addition to promoting his new children’s book, Monmouth College A to Z – which was illustrated by Jack Clifford ’10 – Sye will also be honored Oct. 6 during the College’s Alumni Impact Awards ceremony. He will receive the College’s Young Alumnus Award.

“It will be our daughter Clara’s first time on campus,” said Sye, who was on campus earlier this year to help his Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity celebrate 75 years at Monmouth. “She is the inspiration for our book.”

Svoboda will share the story of his just-released book in an informal discussion with alumni and students at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Mellinger Office of Development and College Relations, formerly known as the Mellinger Learning Center, on East Clinton Avenue. He is the author of Brothers, Bears, and Beers, a rollicking true story of adventures, mishaps, friendships and college life in the 1970s.

‘Governors, Gauchos and Gaels’

Pio recently completed the third book in his series on college nicknames and mascots. Inspired, in large part, by his time as a Fighting Scot athlete, Pio first wrote about NCAA Division III schools, including Monmouth, before moving on to Division II. The titles of those books were Gryphons, Gorloks and Gusties (Division III) and Gorillas, Gators and Greyhounds (Division II).

COUNTING 'EM DOWN: Chris Pio started with a book on NCAA Division III nicknames, then wrote o... COUNTING 'EM DOWN: Chris Pio started with a book on NCAA Division III nicknames, then wrote one on Division II and has now completed his Division I book.Pio has now covered 365 more colleges and universities in Governors, Gauchos and Gaels: NCAA Division I Nicknames and Mascots – from Aces to Zips. He will do a book signing in the Monmouth College Bookstore at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 7. The bookstore is located on the first floor of McMichael Residence Hall on North Ninth Street.

“The NCAA trilogy includes stories of 1,172 colleges and universities, so there’s plenty of fascinating material to talk about,” said Pio. “Writing the books has become easier since I’ve decided on a consistent look and format for the series. Getting the word out to more potential readers is my biggest challenge right now.”

Monmouth College A to Z

The Syes’ text and the illustrations by Clifford – Sye’s “big brother” in his first year in SigEp – provide children the opportunity to learn the alphabet while exploring the College’s unique traditions and its beautiful campus. It is a perfect gift for Monmouth alumni to share with their children and grandchildren and with friends.

While Pio’s book tracks athletic nicknames from Aces to Zips, the Syes pay tribute to their beloved alma mater, beginning with “alumni” and “bagpipes” and continuing through the alphabet.

The book is available through Amazon; during Homecoming, 50 copies will be available for purchase at the Monmouth College Bookstore, including some signed copies.

Coming of age in Woodstock and Monmouth

Svoboda started writing his book several years ago but then put it on the shelf. The free time that the COVID pandemic provided gave him the opportunity to rekindle the project.

COMING OF AGE: Joe Svoboda's new book features a mix of Tom Sawyer, Forrest Gump and Animal H... COMING OF AGE: Joe Svoboda's new book features a mix of Tom Sawyer, Forrest Gump and Animal House.A good way to picture the coming-of-age book’s content is to imagine The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Forrest Gump and A Walk in the Woods, with a few Animal House fraternity pranks thrown in.

Svoboda shares true stories – sometimes heart-stopping, but always hilarious – experienced alongside good friends from his hometown of Woodstock, Illinois, as well as his SigEp fraternity brothers. His zeal for big-game hunting, geology, marine biology, camping, exploring, spelunking and fishing for trophy northern pike and bass catapults Svoboda and his buddies from the Florida Keys to the Current River in Missouri, and from No Tellum Lake in Ontario, Canada, to Kenai, Alaska.

“I wanted to capture a time in my life that was special due to the friendships and adventures,” he said. “As I put words on paper, additional memories were triggered, which became the final outline for the book. All brothers involved in the stories contributed to the final product.”

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