Riverland Community College inducts teams into Hall of Fame

Published 3:59 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015

David Lillemon, athletic director at Riverland Community College, speaks Friday at the Hall of Fame induction at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

David Lillemon, athletic director at Riverland Community College, speaks Friday at the Hall of Fame induction at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

College athletes from six decades gathered Friday to reminisce about success on the field of play and receive awards.

During Riverland Community College’s 11th annual Hall of Fame induction, the school recognized eight teams at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

“The best part is seeing the reaction of people coming back to see each other and receive this great honor,” said Riverland Community College Athletic Director David Lillemon. “It’s really made this a wonderful evening.”

Email newsletter signup

Among the teams inducted was the 1979-80 softball team that was coached by Dan Ball. The team won conference, regional and state titles and was the first team from Minnesota to win a game at the national tournament, he said.

“They’re just a good bunch of young ladies,” said Ball. “It’s a nice honor for these kids. They like to have fun, they like playing with each other and they competed.”

Some of the players Ball hadn’t seen for 35 years, but some parts of the season were etched in his memory. He remembered how catcher Karol Hansen played both games of a doubleheader the day after she had four wisdom teeth removed and when Lori Bergstrom took a line-drive to the cheek but played the rest of the game.

“That’s just the way they were,” he said. “They just had a great time and played hard.”

Hansen went on to coach softball, volleyball and girls’ basketball. She was the Section 1AAA girls’ basketball Coach of the Year in 2007 at Albert Lea High School and finished the spring season as an assistant coach for the softball team on May 23.

The baseball team from 1971-72 coached by Earl Perkins was also recognized.

Perkins said the group excelled at each phase of the game, and the team was led by left-handed pitcher Darrell Monson and right-handed pitcher Jim Schammel.

“I abide by the old adage that if you have good pitching and good defense, that’s where you like to start,” he said. “Then hopefully you have enough hitting in between to score runs. We had all three. The kids had talent. It wasn’t as much to do with the coaching.”

Putting in extra time at the field was a labor of love for Perkins.

“I don’t know how many times I didn’t get home until 7:30 or 8,” he said. “They’d say you couldn’t hit them enough balls. It was really a happy bunch of kids.”

Perkins lives in the Twin Cities, and while he hasn’t been able to take in many Riverland baseball games, he was excited to see the Twins’ strong start. Minnesota is 28-19 overall and one game behind the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals in the division standings.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was the 1947-48 football team coached by Mark Dean, 1951-52 basketball coached by Hal Cuff, 1965-66 golf coached by Red Hastings, 1976-77 women’s basketball coached by Vel Moen, 1986-87 women’s tennis coached by Dave Dickinson and 1990-91 men’s tennis also coached by Dickinson.

The Hall of Fame induction was the first of multiple events to celebrate Riverland’s 75th anniversary.

An 18-hole golf fundraiser was Saturday at Wedgewood. The Jubilee Jam concert featuring the band Six Mile Grove will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today at the Austin campus.

Another golf fundraiser will be at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Austin Country Club.

“It’s to raise a little money, but more importantly, to spend time socializing and celebrating our 75th anniversary,” Lillemon said.