Grinnell celebrates proud athletics heritage during Hall of Fame ceremony

Sept. 5, 2018 — Standing 5 foot, 6 inches tall, Abe Rosenbloom ’34 was considered small for a football lineman even by 1930s standards.

But his impact on Grinnell College loomed so large that his son, John Rosenbloom ’71, couldn’t help but get emotional when accepting a medal on his father’s behalf. Abe was one of nine inductees making up the 2018 Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame class.

“He loved Grinnell, and I think he would have been overwhelmed with this acknowledgment,” John says. “He didn’t seek out recognition. But it came to him because of the actions he took to help the College and other students. The College gave a lot to my dad, and he gave a lot back.”

The newest Hall of Famers were celebrated at a ceremony and reception Saturday morning at the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center natatorium and during a dinner Saturday evening at the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

The following alumni were inducted to the Hall of Fame:

  • Abe Rosenbloom ’34, football
  • Ed Hirsch ’72, football and baseball
  • Chad Stewart ’97, soccer
  • John Aerni-Flessner ’01, cross country and track
  • Tai Duncan ’04, volleyball and basketball
  • Steve Wood ’04, basketball
  • Sarah Stayer Mills ’06, swimming and diving
  • Liz Carrier ’07, soccer
  • Juan Carlos Pérez Borja ’11, tennis and soccer

For a closer look at the individual inductees, view the Hall of Fame announcement.

The Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 1996 to recognize the achievements of the College’s most accomplished student-athletes. This marked the seventh induction ceremony.

Athletic Director Andy Hamilton addresses the 2018 Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony.
Athletic Director Andy Hamilton ’85 addresses the 2018 Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony.

“Today is a very, very special day as we will be enshrining nine individuals — all true Pioneers — who through their performances as student-athletes have left an indelible mark on the history of Grinnell College Athletics,” Grinnell Athletics Director Andy Hamilton ’85 said during the Saturday morning ceremony. “These individuals’ contributions are groundbreaking, inspiring, and extraordinary. The history of Grinnell College Athletics could not be written without mention of their names.”

Inductees appreciated the recognition even if some couldn’t quite believe they were now one of 97 Hall of Famers.

“This means everything to me,” Duncan says. “This is where I became a person. Before coming to Grinnell I was a kid trying to figure things out. People here become lifetime friends. My teammates are my family now. I never would have imagined being honored like this.”

The celebration was a family affair. Family members excitedly examined poster drawings of the inductees and admired the medals they received. Others reminisced about watching their loved ones play at Grinnell. Joe Wood vividly recalls his brother Steve’s games at the old Darby Gym.

“Steve was a force to be reckoned with,” Joe said while laughing. “But seriously, this honor is well deserved. I’m excited to be here and be part of it. The Hall of Fame is a great idea because it recognizes student-athletes for being the best.”

Besides the Hall of Fame activities, over 50 alumni athletes returned to Grinnell from the Pioneer soccer and tennis programs. The soccer teams celebrated its 34th anniversary of gathering on Labor Day weekend.

For some that meant they could enjoy a reunion while applauding their former teammate.

Andy Hamilton ’85 and Chad Stewart ’97
    Andy Hamilton ’85 and
    Chad Stewart ’97

Former soccer players Nick Johnson ’95 and Andy Lee ’98 made the trip from Portland for several reasons. They both played on the pitch with Stewart and wanted a chance to rib him a little about the honor. In addition, Johnson’s son plays for Carleton, which was Grinnell’s soccer opponent on Saturday.

“Chad was a great teammate,” Lee says. “He was a very talented soccer player and super fun to be around. He made a big difference on the field. I’m glad he’s been included in the Hall of Fame. I think it’s good when schools pay attention to their athletic histories and traditions.”

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

To see full bios of all Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Famers, visit the searchable Hall of Fame page.