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Lakeland College celebrated a significant coach from its past and looked ahead to a bright future during a pair of dedication ceremonies as part of Saturday’s Homecoming activities. Coach Thome dedication

The college dedicated the completion of a new wrestling room, and renamed the football practice field for the late John Thome, the winningest football coach in Lakeland history.

Thome, who died in 2011, was head coach during Lakeland’s golden age of football. He is Lakeland’s all-time wins leader in football, having compiled a 78-53-2 record and winning seven conference championships in 14 seasons as head coach from 1967-80. He was a six-time conference coach of the year, three-time NAIA coach of the year nominee and was inducted into the Lakeland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

He also served on the coaching staffs at Kiel, Howards Grove, Oostburg and Plymouth, wrapping up his career as a physical education teacher at Howards Grove High School and coach of the golf team.

The college erected a large stone bearing a plaque with Thome’s likeness beside the practice field, located behind the Wehr Athletic Center. Money was also raised to contribute to the existing John Thome Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Thome’s wife, Darlene, and their three children, sons Craig and Jon, and daughter Trecia Shane, and their families attended the event, along with several former Lakeland football players who were coached by Thome.

“It’s so appropriate that we’re dedicating a practice field in his honor,” Trecia said. “It was before, during and after practice that my father made so many memories. I’m just now beginning to understand the important influence he had on so many people. Teachers, coaches and business people I run into say, ‘You’re Coach Thome’s daughter? I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for your father.’

“My dad wore so many hats – coach, teacher, professor, recruiter, husband, father, friend. We can all be thankful that he crossed our paths.”

Mike Brunmeier, a 1973 graduate, served on the leadership committee that spearheaded the naming of the field. He spoke at the dedication on behalf of Thome’s former players.

“He was our coach, but he was also our big brother,” Brunmeier said. “He was prowling campus night and day looking for us to see what we were doing, see what we were getting into and make sure we were studying. He held our feet to the fire and made sure we were making the right choices.”

Dan Eck, the college’s interim president, said the monument behind the Wehr Center will allow Thome to “watch over everyone here. As a college we will change, but we can never forget what made this a special place.”

The wrestling room is a space in the southwest portion of campus previously occupied by GT Graphics, a privately-owned print shop. Originally intended to be a temporary solution, Lakeland renovated the space to accommodate the needs of the wrestling program and allow the team to permanently use it as a standalone practice facility.

Members of the current team were joined by several former Lakeland wrestlers, as well as former head coach Pete Rogers, now assistant wrestling coach at Purdue University. The facility has wall-to-wall mats, kettlebells, pull-up bars, Bulgarian training bags, ropes and other top-flight training equipment. 

The walls of the room spotlight Lakeland’s All-Americans and Academic All-Americans, providing current wrestlers with role models from the program’s past.

“This takes the possibilities for our program and our student-athletes to much higher levels,” said Lakeland head wrestling coach Mike DeRoehn. “The facility provides a safe, clean, motivating environment for our athletes to train in on a year-round basis, if they choose. It will increase our practice efficiency and team training opportunities exponentially, as well as greatly enhance our recruiting.”

Lakeland College honored three significant contributors to the college during Homecoming weekend at the college's annual alumni awards banquet.

Homecoming 2013Alice Senty and Hugh Denison, both of Sheboygan, will receive Honorary Alumni Awards, and Terry Thiessen, of Kiel, received the Service to the College Award.

Senty has been a wonderful friend of the college in many regards. She served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1994-2006, and was awarded trustee emeritus status in 2013. In 2007, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Lakeland to recognize her lifetime of civic engagement and service to her community.

Senty also served on the college's church relations board for a number of years, and was on the state board of the United Church of Christ. She established an endowed scholarship at Lakeland in 2004, and visits campus each year to meet her scholarship recipient. She was a member of the college's Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, and is a member of the Founders' Society and an annual member of the 1862 Society.

Denison is a Sheboygan native who had a distinguished career in the financial services industry. A graduate of Lawrence University and a Vietnam War veteran, Denison followed in the footsteps of his father, Frank "Homer" Denison, who founded H.C. Denison in Sheboygan.

In 1985, Hugh Denison joined Heartland Advisors in Milwaukee in its first year of operation, and he held a number of key roles, retiring as a senior vice president-portfolio manager.

Denison first visited Lakeland as a teen with his father and Lucius P. Chase, a former chairman and member of the Lakeland Board of Trustees. Over the years, Denison has served the college in many capacities including guest lecturer, member of the college's Foundation Committee and an advisor to presidents.

Denison has been engaged in numerous charitable organizations throughout his career. He is a tireless advocate for charitable causes, including the Boys & Girls Club, the Skylight Opera, the Milwaukee Athletic Club, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and as trustee of the YMCA Endowment Trust, the Potowatomi Tribal Foundation Council, Lawrence University and Babson College (Ma.) Locally, he has served on the boards of the Deland Foundation and the JMKAC.

"Lakeland is a unique and treasured asset to the greater Sheboygan community that has remained true to its Christian roots and provides an outstanding education," he said. "We cannot afford to lose an asset of this importance, and it's imperative that leaders step up and help the college remain prosperous."

Thiessen is a 1970 Lakeland graduate whose family has deep roots at Lakeland. His father, Edgar Thiessen, served as a music faculty member and director of bands for many years. Terry has served countless volunteer hours on numerous boards and committees.

He has served for seven years on the Alumni Board, leading the development task force and then becoming vice president. He has served on the Movers & Shakers Gala Committee since its inception, and was event coordinator in the early years. He played a major role as chair of the On-Campus Events Committee for the Sesquicentennial, and helped shape and implement the successful All-College-Reunion in the summer of 2012.

He and his wife, Karen, rarely miss a Homecoming or other local alumni event, and he often volunteers to work the registration desk or act as a greeter. He has also been a longtime donor to the college, further sharing his resources with his alma mater.

Photos from the event are available later on our Facebook page.

Results from the first day of the Homecoming 2013 team competition are in, and “The Great Scotts” lead their nine opponents after winning the Window Painting Contest.Homecoming 2013 window painting

For the Window Painting Contest, which kicked off the competition on Monday, The Great Scotts earned 50 points. The winning painting featured a perpetrator holding a bloody knife behind his back while standing in the middle of a crime scene. Second place went to Forensic Phi Delts and Pi Kappa Gamma took third.

The theme for Homecoming 2013 is “Crime Scene Investigation.” For the Window Painting Contest, each team was designated a Pub window and given painting supplies. Competitors were judged on use of theme, creativity, incorporation of Lakeland College, use of multiple colors and use of the whole window.

Ten teams are entered in this year’s Homecoming competition.

See more photos from Homecoming 2013 on Facebook! Be sure to tag yourself (or friends).

With the week's various Homecoming contests beginning to wind down, two of the 10 teams began separating themselves from the pack on Thursday afternoon.Lakeland CSI at 2013 Homecoming

After the day's Team Games activity – a scavenger hunt – the Forensic Phi Delts had a lead with 150 points. Team Pi Kappa Gamma, which won Thursday's scavenger hunt, was second overall with 110. Many of the other eight teams remain within striking distance in the Homecoming week standings.

Thursday's scavenger hunt involved teams searching for clues in various locations. The final destination was garbage bags, in which there were numerous parts of a plastic skeleton scattered about. Blind-folded team members had to find all the pieces of the skeletons, at which point their teammates assembled them.

A handful of competitions remain, including a lip sync contest at the pep rally, the king and queen coronation and the “CSI Photo” competition – which involves each team taking 14 different themed pictures and sending them in for judging.

More photos can be seen on our Facebook page.

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