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Athletes of the ’60s Huddle to Reminisce

Games, practices, coaches, teammates, bus rides, the locker room, Buck’s bar: All were in bounds as topics of conversation at a summer reunion for St. Norbert College athletes from the 1960s. Ninety Green Knights from various sports returned to campus to exchange stories and reminisce.

Much of the talk in the football room revolved around legendary coach Howard “Chick” Kolstad, who led the program from 1960 to 1978. Dave Gagermeier ’65 recalls an instance when “Howie” threw his clipboard in anger at the close of practice at Minahan Stadium.

“He said, ‘I’m not going back on the bus with you, I’m going to run back,” explains Gagermeier, who also played basketball in college. “So we all get on the bus and everybody is real quiet. We get to the bridge coming back to school and we see an assistant coach dropping Howie off. He starts running across the bridge. We are all in the bus laughing. Nobody had any guts to say anything to Howie.”

Kolstad “was a Marine Corps guy, boxer and football player,” says Wayne Lubner ’71. “When you played for him, he was tough, but you always knew that he would take care of you.” Ed Sturzl ’71 says: “Even the guys who struggled to get along with him, respected him.”

Unlike today’s Green Knights football roster of 135 players, teams in the ’60s had only 40 to 45 players. Everybody had to show up to play. Dave Simon ’66 recalls cutting his eye open in the first quarter of the game at Augustana during his junior year. The police took him to the hospital where he received nine stitches.

“We got back and it was halftime,” he explains. “I played the second half with a broken nose and a stitched-up eye.” 

Among the games discussed during the reunion was one of the worst defeats in St. Norbert history: when the basketball team faced Division I Loyola of Chicago.

Then-athletic director Mel Nicks scheduled the game during the 1961-62 season – one year prior to Loyola’s NCAA championship win.

“Somehow he got us on their calendar,” says Gagermeier. “It was a filler game. We played Lewis in Chicago and stayed over to play Loyola. I was on the bench. I can remember we were ahead of them 12-7. I was thinking, ‘These guys aren’t that good.’ We got beat 105-52.”

The reunion included a slideshow of athletic photos from the decade, including images of the wrestling team that competed for three seasons. The alumni also toured the athletic facilities and visited the locations of their old home fields and courts.

Oct. 31, 2018