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Beautiful sunny, cool days and fall foliage provided the atmosphere for a fun and exciting Homecoming Weekend at Benedictine College on October 29 and 30. The annual Homecoming Parade, the Bed Race competition, a celebration and ring ceremony for the 2022 NAIA National Champion Women’s Lacrosse team, and exciting athletic competition were all part of the event that culminated in the induction of the 2022 Raven Athletic Hall of Fame Class on Saturday night.
“It was an incredible weekend,” said Catherine Kluempers, Director of Student Activities at Benedictine. “The traditions we cherish have continued to bring joy to students and nostalgia to alumni and friends. It’s always special to remember our history and welcome Ravens back home.”
Four alumni of the college entered the Raven Athletic Hall of Fame on October 30 at a Saturday night banquet. Katie (Gerst) Dooley ’01, Jessi (Vercande) Patterson ’99, Mike Rieker ’82, and Tom Kautz ’78 made up the 2022 class and all were thrilled to be back on campus for Homecoming.
“When President Minnis called me this summer to let me know this event was going to go on and they were going to share this with me, I did my best to talk him out of it,” said Kautz, who entered for sports broadcasting. “But look around you and you see the buildings, you see the fabulous things going on, the construction, the expansion of this school – those things don’t happen for someone who takes no for an answer very easily.”
Kautz began his broadcasting career as a nighttime board operator on Atchison’s KARE Radio in 1977 while still a student. He was mentored by Benedictine Hall-of-Famer Bill Ervin and entered the broadcast booth in 1979. Following the passing of Mr. Ervin in 1981, Tom became the home and away voice of Raven Athletics on the air. In more than 40 years of broadcasting, he is proud to have called over 470 Benedictine football games and over 1,900 Benedictine basketball games.
“I had a great mentor – Bill Ervin,” Kautz said. “He took me under his wing when I first started. I would engineer the games when he was broadcasting. I’m very happy to say that since 1952, in 70 years, there have been only two of us to call Benedictine games.” Katie (Gerst) Dooley is the first woman soccer player at Benedictine College to be nationally recognized. She was 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-Region, and an All-American Honorable Mention all four years of playing. In her sophomore year, she was the dominant defender that propelled the Ravens to their first conference championship.
“She was a dream player,” said Mark Clines, her coach at the time who returned to introduce her. “She was the critical player in my opinion who elevated the women’s soccer program from a very good conference team to a conference champion. And then, it’s fair to say, took us to the next level.”
“I’m going to think of this recognition as an illustration that sometimes when an athlete has a little bit of a talent deficit, it can loosely be filled with the right amount of heart and passion,” Dooley said.
Jessi (Vercande) Patterson was a transfer who only played basketball at Benedictine for two years, but she left her mark on the program in that brief time. She scored 1,060 points and still ranks second and third in single season scoring with 531 points in 1998-99 and 529 points in 1997-98. She led her team to the conference title and to the NAIA Division II National Tournament both seasons, getting all the way to the round of 16 in 1998. Jessi was the Conference Player of the Year for the 1998-99 season and is the only 1st Team All-American in program history.
“To be honored for a sport that I love is seriously so amazing,” said Patterson. “I loved everything about this sport – the quiet, focused energy in the gym, and before the big game. All the sounds of the game – the bounce of the ball on the hardwood. The perfect snap when you step up and hit a three pointer. But most importantly, about all, I just loved being a part of the team – a special group of amazing talented, athletic women who came together each and every day to embody in our eyes and the coaches’ eyes what it meant to play Benedictine College Women’s Basketball.”
Mike Rieker entered the Hall of Fame for both baseball and football. In baseball, he was predominantly an outfielder, but also served as a utility infielder. He was named to the NAIA All-District 10 team in both 1981 and 1982 and served as a team captain those same years. He was selected as the Team Most Valuable Player his senior year. He was equally successful in football, where he played safety in addition to special teams. Over three seasons (1979-81), he recorded 173 tackles with a career high of 82 during the 1979 season. In his final season, he was named both Team Most Valuable Defensive Player and Team Most Valuable Player.
“I was blessed with some of the best coaches here at Benedictine College. You’ve seen their names, Larry Wilcox, Charlie Gartenmayer, Denny Murphy, and Gip Fehring,” Rieker said. “I really did not know until I left the field of play, how much they were preparing me for my success in life.”
Charlie Gartenmayer, the Benedictine Athletic Director who served as the master of ceremonies for the night, said it best, “As some of you in this room know, at Benedictine College we arrive as strangers, grow as friends, and leave as one. We think about that each and every day.”
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.