Albion alumni, faculty, and staff lost a valued coach, mentor, colleague, and friend with the passing of Pete Schmidt, September 29, 2000, following a year-long battle with lymphoma. After coaching football at Albion College for 15 seasons, Pete had joined the Indiana University football program in early 1997. As Indiana's assistant head coach for football, he turned the Hoosier offense into one of high energy. Before coming to Indiana, Pete did the same with Albion College, developing one of Michigan’s best college football programs in the late 1980s and 1990s. He posted a 104-27-4 record at Albion.
His football teams at Albion won conference championships in 1985 and then 1989 through 1996, and appeared in NCAA postseason competition five times. In 1994, Pete coached the Britons to the NCAA Division III football championship, the first time an MIAA team had won a national championship in that sport. Albion’s record that season was a perfect 13-0. He earned numerous coaching honors that year, among them NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year.
Albion athletes excelled academically during the Schmidt years with five NCAA Postgraduate Scholars in football from 1993 through 1997. Every senior football player earning a letter also earned a degree from Albion, including eight first-team Academic All-America selections and 10 first-team Division III or small college All-America picks.
Along with football, Pete also served as athletic director from 1992 to 1996. During four seasons as women’s track coach, he worked with Division III All-American Kathy Dec Prohaska, ’85, and Wendy Lombardi Kohlhepp, ’84, one of tonight’s inductees.
Prior to coming to Albion, Pete was head coach at Okemos High School for seven years, earning six conference titles while posting three undefeated regular seasons and finishing as runner-up in the Class B playoffs twice.
Pete's wife, Becky, is a high school English teacher in Bloomington, Ind. Their three children are: Amy ’97, Peter ’98, and Sarah ’99.
The Albion College Board of Trustees has established the Peter J. Schmidt Scholarship in Pete's memory.
Doug Barcy’s love of the game of baseball lasted not only through his stint as a hurler for Albion College but into his life after college. While at Albion, Doug was a four-year member of the baseball team, claiming All-MIAA honors as a sophomore and senior, and he was chosen as the MIAA MVP in 1979. He served as co-captain of the baseball team that captured the 1979 MIAA league title and finished the year with a 10-2 record. Doug’s earned run average that season was a .39; he only allowed two runs in 36 innings of play, earning him fourth place on the MIAA lowest ERA list.
After Doug graduated from Albion in 1976, he played as a member of the national champion runner-up team in the Stan Musial World Series and was also a member of the national champion team in the 1986 Stan Musial World Series. Doug was a member of six state champion AABC Teams and represented the United States in the International Baseball Series in Ciego De Avilla, Cuba, in 1989. He is currently a member of national champion teams in the Roy Hobbs Baseball Over-40 Division. Doug, his wife, Lynn, and their two daughters live in East Lansing, where he is president of the First National Acceptance Company of North America and sits on the boards of Highfields, Inc., and Junior Achievement.
Dar Christiansen turned his love for football into a lifelong vocation, earning as many honors after Albion as while a member of the varsity football team. Dar was a three-year varsity starter at slotback and defensive cornerback, and was chosen as the football team’s Most Improved Player in 1961. While team co-captain in 1962, he was named to the All-MIAA football team and was chosen as Albion’s MVP. Dar also played catcher for the Briton baseball team in 1963.
After Albion, Dar earned an M.A. from the University of Michigan in guidance and counseling and an education specialist certificate. He went on to coach at the high school level, becoming the winningest coach in Flint High School history. He also was chosen the Michigan High School Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year from 1974 to 1977. Dar was honored as the Genesee County Football Coach of the Year in both 1971 and 1974, and was named to the Detroit Free Press Coaches All State Football Panel in 1973.
He is currently an education specialist at Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School, after having been assistant principal at Brighton High School. He has also served as the president of the Board of Education for Flushing Community Schools. Dar and his wife, Patricia, are the parents of five children, and they have 14 grandchildren.
Mary Jane Lang Grunden’s athletic successes at Albion spanned both the court and the field. She held the top spots in both singles and doubles tennis in her four years on campus, never relinquishing the title of number-one singles player. As captain of the tennis team, Mary Jane was the runner-up in the All-WMIAA first-flight tennis singles championships in 1979 and was the All-WMIAA champion in the first-flight doubles championships that same year. For her successes on the court she received the WMIAA Sue Little Sportsmanship Award in 1979.
Mary Jane’s accomplishments in tennis are rivaled only by her performance in field hockey. She played goalie for her four years at Albion, and was a member of the 1978 WMIAA champion field hockey team. She was named to the All-WMIAA field hockey first team and to the All Great Lakes Section Field Hockey Team in 1977. Mary Jane did not allow a goal during MIAA play in 1978.
After graduation, she earned an M.S.A. from Central Michigan University, and she continues to teach piano and violin. She has two daughters and is the director of volunteer services for Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, where she has been honored with the Irene Waldmann Leadership Award in 1998 and the Corporate Women of Achievement award in 1999.
Melody Janson’s athletic successes ranged across four sports. Outstanding on the basketball court, she played all four years and earned MVP honors as a senior. She was named to the All-MIAA team and chosen as MIAA Player of the Week for her help in leading the Albion College team to a 15-5 record and third place in the conference.
Luckily, softball was a different season, and Melody was able to dominate the diamond in the spring much as she had the court in the winter. She was a four-year member of the softball team, capturing the team MVP award as well as All-MIAA honors. Melody’s .385 batting average earned her MIAA batting champion honors as a senior.
Melody also contributed to two fall sports teams, volleyball in 1982 and field hockey in 1984. In volleyball, she earned the Captain’s Award and became the team’s top scorer.
Melody lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., with her dog and cat and enjoys camping, fishing, and working on her house and yard when she’s not at work at Verizon Technology, where she has been a business zone technician for over 10 years.
An outstanding runner, Wendy Lombardi Kohlhepp was a standout in track and cross country. Dominating her track events, she secured the MIAA championship in the 800m and 1500m runs as both a junior and senior, setting league records in both events as a senior. Wendy was also a member of the MIAA championship mile relay team in 1983. As a senior, she was named the MVP at the MIAA women’s track meet and was selected to the All-MIAA track team. She was chosen an All-American-At-Large second-team member her senior year. She was named to the All-MIAA cross country team in 1982.
After graduating summa cum laude from Albion, Wendy secured a position at Electronic Data Systems in Fairborn, Ohio, where she remains today as a senior information specialist. She and her husband, Jack, have two sons, John and Sam. Wendy enjoys cycling and family activities.
Steffanie Lundstrum Laven was an invaluable member of the 1982 women’s swim team, which posted a record of 5-2 and placed second in the MIAA. The team was ranked 12th in the nation. Steffanie swam the 100- and 200-yard individual medleys, the 50- and 100-yard butterfly, the 50- and 100-yard backstroke, and the 50-yard freestyle. She qualified for and attended Division III national championship meets in 1979, 1980, and 1982, and was named an All-American in the 400-freestyle relay. Steffanie was named to the All-MIAA teams in 1979, 1980, and 1982 and held the MIAA and the Albion College records in the 50-yard butterfly.
After graduating from Albion College, Steffanie received a master’s degree in international management from the American Graduate School of International Management. She continues to compete in U.S. Masters swimming events and works as a certified public accountant in Marietta, Ga., where she lives with her husband, David Laven, ’81.
A versatile athlete equally skilled on the track and on the court, Gary Nichols excelled at track and at basketball at Albion. As a freshman, Gary was a national qualifier in the long jump and, as a sophomore, made the All-MIAA team in the triple jump, the long jump, the 200-meter dash, and the 4x100 relay. On the basketball court, he was honored as defensive MVP and received All-MIAA honorable mention recognition as a sophomore. Gary led the 1978 NCAA Division III Final Four team in dunks.
Sidelined by a knee injury, Gary missed his junior season in basketball but as a senior came back to lead the team as a co-captain and leading scorer, averaging 18.4 points per game. Albion’s MVP that year, he was also named to the All-MIAA team and participated in the All-Tournament Tip-Off Classic.
Gary’s love for basketball continued after he left Albion, as he became a high school coach and led the Austin (Texas) High School basketball team to the state 5A basketball championships in 1994. He was named the Texas High School Basketball Coach of the Year in 1994 and had the honor of coaching the Texas McDonald’s Basketball All-Star Game in 1995. Gary won his 300th game as a coach this year in Houston, where he lives with his wife, Florence Durrett Nichols, ’81, and their children, Onja Monei and Gary W., Jr.
The water seemed to be a natural second home for Randy Parker, who dominated Albion swim teams from 1973 to 1976. He began his illustrious career by being named Rookie of the Year in 1973, and went on to earn All-MIAA honorable mention recognition as a freshman. He was chosen the Britons’ MVP from 1974 to 1976, and named to the All-MIAA swim team each of those years. Randy was an NCAA Division III national qualifier all four years and was undefeated in the 200-yard breaststroke at the MIAA league meet each of his four years at Albion. He served as co-captain of the swim team his junior and senior years. He set and held the MIAA league records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke from 1973 to 1976.
Randy’s love for the water didn’t end after he graduated and began work for the Kellogg Co. He competes in U.S. Masters swim meets at the state and national levels, and this year he broke all Michigan records for the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard breaststroke in the men’s 45-49 age group. He took two top 10 finishes at the U.S. Masters nationals and was part of the Michigan men’s team that took first in the nation. Randy and his wife, Karen Weidman Parker, ’77, have two children and live in Battle Creek, where Randy has also won the Goguac Lake Swim Marathon.
Dan Pekrul first broke onto the NCAA Division III track scene as a junior at Albion in 1986, placing third at the national championships in the javelin, good for All-America honors. A year later, he captured first place at the Division III championships with a school-record toss of 223 feet, five inches. Pekrul’s performances set the standard for the top Briton javelin throwers who would follow, including 1991 and 1993 javelin champion Steve Gilbert and 1994 Division III decathlon winner Tom Reason. His Herculean efforts also earned him MIAA champion bragging rights in 1984, 1986, and 1987. Dan led an outstanding track team his senior season which tied for 27th place in the country. Dan still holds the league javelin record at 215 feet, 11 inches.
Dan continues his success with the javelin, and was ranked number 50 in the United States by Track and Field News in 1994. He and his wife, Mary, live in Haslett with their daughter, Jessica Rae. Dan is a detective/sergeant with the Michigan State Police and is assigned to the governor’s duty.
Bob Varner was a crucial member of the successful 1983 Albion baseball team that finished the season 12-8. As a four-year starting pitcher, he achieved an overall Albion record of 24-9 and an MIAA record of 17-4. He was baseball co-captain in 1983. Bob was named to the All-MIAA team and MIAA Co-MVP in 1982 and 1983, and was named to the NCAA Division III All-District team in 1982. Bob’s most notable triumph came on April 16, 1983, when he pitched a no-hitter against Hope College, capping off a year when he pitched five consecutive shut-outs in MIAA play and 36 and two-thirds consecutive scoreless innings.
After graduating from Albion with a degree in economics and management, Bob was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and assigned to their Single-A New York-Penn league affiliate Niagara Falls. Before his release in 1984, Bob’s record was 1-2 with a 2.7 earned run average. Bob lives in Plymouth with his wife, Denise, and their three children, and he is a project manager with Roofing Technologies and Associates. He is still involved with sports, playing golf and coaching a soccer team.
Led by head coach Pete Schmidt and captains Paul Elder, Ed Ewald, and Andre Truss, the 1985 Albion College football team posted an impressive 7-1-1 record on the way to a first-place finish in the MIAA and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs, where they fell to the defending champions.
The team saw many records set, including the Albion record for most yards per season (997) set by Lance Brown and the College record for longest field goal (49 yards) set by Ken Haut in a game against DePauw. Running back Lance Brown was named the league and Albion MVP as well as earning Division III All-America honorable mention status. Seven members were selected for the All-MIAA first team: Lance Brown, Terry Clark, Ed Ewald, Joe Felton, Mike Grant, Andy Remmo, and Andre Truss. Paul Elder, Jim Hall, Ken Haut, Dave Mugan, Brad Perkins, Dave Venegas, and Charles Wasczenski were named to the All-MIAA second team.
The coaching staff included: Dennis Bongard, Dale Dillingham, Dave Egnatuk, Gordon Hetrick, Greg Polnasek, and Dan Smith. Trainers were Walt Swyers and Sarah Hogberg Forester.
Other team members included: Bill Allen, Rich Barno, Dan Beatty, Mark Benschoter, Tony Bertoia, Chris Billings, Frank Bindi, Pete Bradley, Pat Briggs, Steve Brooks, Kevin Bushinski, Dan Bzura, Brad Collar, Greg Crapo, Bryan Crosby, Jon DeAngelis, Michael Decker, Ken DeGood, Tony DeVolder, Dale Dillingham, John Dunlop, Matt Federeau, Doug Forsyth, Stu Forsyth, Steve Freier, Steve Gaffield, Bob Gendron, Joe Greene, Phil Hansen, Todd Hartson, Mike Hawkins, Damian Hayden, Jim Hemenway, Kevin Hornak, Mark Kast, Brian Kerman, Greg Kern, Mike Kidder, Chris King, Ken Kish, Marv Konkle, Tom Kopsch, Ken Kriger, Bill Ley, Jeff Losee, Kevin Mahoney, Mike Mansfield, Bruce Martin, Mike Maurice, Jim McCarthy, Tim McGonagle, Steve Meyers, Mike Mutchler, Kurt Nelson, Steve Pente, Chris Phelps, Rob Porritt, Wayne Probst, Steve Quinn, Dan Quint, Pat Regan, Matt Remmo, Jim Schmidt, Scott Shaw, Jim Sherman, Ken Slezak, Grant Smith, Dave Spray, Mark Stephenson, Paul Tagget, Paul Temerowski, Mark Tescari, Greg Thompson, Matt Touhy, Chris Tyler, Scott Warford, A.J. Watson, Mike Williams, Jeff Wilson, Dave Yaw, and Karl Zimmerman.
Under the leadership of coach Frank Joranko, the 1982 Albion baseball team posted a 17-12-1 record and captured the MIAA championship with an 11-1 league record. The team also played in NCAA Division III postseason contests, defeating Otterbein College, the Ohio Athletic Conference champions that year, and York College, which had earlier captured its league championship as well. R.J. Fabian made College history by breaking the Briton home run record with eight home runs that season. The team saw players Wayne MacKenzie and Bob Varner named to the All-MIAA first team, and Kip Conway, Ray DeSana, Paul Sauers, Steve Taylor, and Ed Walter named to the All-MIAA second team. Mike Brown and R.J. Fabian earned All-MIAA honorable mention status. The league MVP was Bob Varner. The team MVP was Bob Varner, and Ray DeSana was Most Improved.
The other team members included Sidney Barnwell, Ron Breaugh, John Budzinski, David Durkee, Bart Frost, David Heeke, Mike Hite, Darin Johnson, John Johnson, Mark Karsten, Tom Knight, Dean Massab, Mike Price, Clair Rowland, Joe Ryder, John Schied, Geoffrey Sleeman, Andy Sovran, and Gerald Switalski.