Alumni say first all-sports Athletics Reunion was a ‘home run’

September 07, 2022 — If it’s Labor Day weekend, chances are good you can find Andrew Stephenson ’10 and Sam Taylor ’04 back in Grinnell swapping stories with fellow alumni who played soccer for the Pioneers. 

Stephenson and Taylor were among the approximately 200 former Grinnell College student-athletes and their family members in town Sept. 2-4 for the initial all-sports Athletics Reunion. This marked the first time every Pioneer sport had a reunion at the same time. In the past, several different team-specific reunions were held throughout the school year.

“Having a weekend like this where the College invests in getting people back is great to see and will strengthen the athletics community across all sports,” Stephenson says. “What’s fun about this is there’s so many people I went to school with that played other sports. I’ve seen soccer people in past years, but to now have the opportunity to see other friends is awesome.”

Football alumnus Evan Petig ’98 and his wife, Abby Copeman Petig ’01, visit with Grinnellians during the outdoor celebration Saturday evening.
Football alumnus Evan Petig ’98 and volleyball alumna Abby Copeman Petig ’01, visit with Grinnellians during the outdoor celebration Saturday evening. 

The celebration weekend was organized by Grinnell College Athletics and the Office of Development & Alumni Relations for alums to reunite with formers teammates, catch up with classmates and coaches, and make connections with other Grinnellians. 

The reunion also was an ideal setting for the 2022 Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame induction. This year’s induction class included alums who played soccer, football, track, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, swimming, and tennis. 

Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11, a Hall of Fame honoree for her volleyball career, says she loved that the weekend brought all sports and all class years together. “You spend so much time in the athletics world here, so you develop friendships with people from other sports,” she says.

Evan Petig ’98, a former football player who lives in Grinnell, says having athletes back from across Pioneer athletics was a great idea and a lot of fun. 

“Grinnell is small enough that people can play multiple sports and you cheer for the other teams,” he says. “And we all crossed paths here. At larger universities, we’d all be separate.”

A welcome reception Friday evening at the Periodic Table kicked off the reunion. On Saturday morning, alums partook in a 5K Fun run with Sarah Burnell ’14, cross country coach, and Jeff Pedersen ’02, track and field coach. 

The current soccer and volleyball teams had home matches scheduled during reunion weekend, and alums were on hand to cheer on student-athletes. Alums got in on the sporting action as well. The baseball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball teams all had alumni games while the cross country team hosted a participatory practice at Rock Creek State Park. 

Former student-athletes also shared their experiences during a To Be An Athlete at Grinnell College panel. Women’s basketball player Erin Lillis ’24 posed questions to Tai Duncan ’04, Shirlene Luk ’15, Mark Trocinski ’99, and Kit Wall ’77.

Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated at a Saturday morning brunch and during an outdoor celebration that evening. The newest Hall of Famers are: 

•    Daniel “Vince” Anku ’65
•    Donald J. Kraitsik ’69/’70
•    Lloyd Eugene “Gene” Reid ’83
•    Jeffrey T. Clement ’99
•    Mark F. Trocinski ’99
•    Sarah E. Evans ’05
•    Kate W. Bowen ’06
•    Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11
•    Michael J. Brus ’14
•    Shirlene S. Luk ’15

The Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 1995 to recognize the achievements of the College’s most accomplished student-athletes. Saturday marked the ninth induction ceremony. There are now 116 former student-athletes, coaches, and administrators in the Hall of Fame.

Group photo of the 2022 Grinnell College Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
Nine new members of the Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame join Athletics Director Andy Hamilton ’85, left, for a group photo after a public induction ceremony Saturday. Pictured bottom row (left to right) are: Jeff Clement ’99, Shirlene Luk ’15, Mark Trocinski ’99, and Sarah Evans ’05. Pictured top row (left to right): Donald Kraitsik ’69/’70, Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11, Michael Brus ’14, Kate Bowen ’06, and Gene Reid ’83. Not pictured is Vince Anku ’65, who also was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Trocinski says as an offensive lineman in football it didn’t occur to him his plaque would one day be hanging in the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.  

“As an offensive lineman, the only time you get individual recognition is if there’s a penalty,” he says. “It was not something I was seeking out. When [teammates] Troy Dougherty ’00 and Richard Wemer ’99 got into the Hall of Fame I celebrated that. I knew they were great athletes. And so was Jeff Clement, who I saw play lots of times. I was expecting those guys to get into the Hall of Fame, but not me personally.”

Likewise, Fletcher never had a goal of making the Hall of Fame. 

“It’s a beautiful byproduct of amazing outcomes, recognition, hard work, and so much more,” she says. “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a little surreal but really meaningful. I’m grateful for my time at Grinnell. Playing volleyball was a meaningful part of my life before Grinnell, but my four years here changed my life and who I am.”

The Hall of Fame induction was memorable for family members, too. A large contingent of the Clement family were on hand.

“I was impressed with how far the College is going with celebrating, and I think making a whole weekend out of alumni athletics is awesome,” says Kathy Clement, Jeff’s mother. “Jeff is enjoying it. He’s very quiet, but I know inside he’s very pleased. He wanted to show his boys that he had a good time here and that it was a special place to come to school.”

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

For a closer look at the 2022 individual inductees, view the Hall of Fame announcement and see the complete list of Grinnell athletes, coaches, and administrators who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.