Scott Ammons made playing defense easy for his teammates. With Ammons on the defensive line, opponents soon found their running game was stuffed by the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Briton. The opponents didn’t enjoy much success through the air, either, because Ammons usually hounded the quarterback.
Ammons was rewarded as a USA Today All-American and the MIAA defensive most valuable player in 1989. He was a three-time All-MIAA first-team selection.
It was the beginning of a golden era for Albion football, as the 1989 team claimed the first of eight consecutive MIAA titles. The Albion defense allowed less than 100 rushing yards, and opponents averaged just 11 points per game in 1989 as Ammons was credited with 75 tackles (57 solo, 18 assists), seven quarterback sacks, and a fumble recovery. He missed two weeks of the 1990 season with knee and ankle injuries but still finished with 53 tackles, six quarterback sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.
After graduation, Ammons entered the work force at the world headquarters of General Motors. He moved on to law school at the University of Michigan, and after earning his J.D., he worked for six years as a corporate attorney. Ammons left the practice of law in 2001 to concentrate on raising his family and writing.
Ammons lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2012. He was survived by his wife, Marisa, and two sons, Cole and Max.
Larry Colburn amassed Hall of Fame credentials as he pitched Albion to a share of the 1963 MIAA baseball championship, and his athletic career would have been only more legendary had it not been interrupted by an injury.
The Britons won eight of their last nine games—including the last five in a row—to charge into a tie with Hope for the 1963 title. According to Morley Fraser’s notes, “Albion got route pitching in the last five games, namely: . . . Colburn 6-1 over Calvin and 5-1 over Alma.” He completed the season with a 5-1 record and a 1.35 earned run average.
Colburn posted a 4-2 record with a 1.67 ERA in league play in 1964, but his pitching career was suspended when he was hit in the arm by a pitch. He missed the 1965 season after having surgery to repair the elbow that was hurt (“Tommy John surgery before there ever was a Tommy John,” Colburn recalls), but he came back to earn a third letter in baseball in 1966.
He was a first-team All-MIAA and team MVP selection in 1963 and 1964 as well as a two-year letterman in basketball.
Colburn, who retired as a vice president of the Northland Insurance Co. in 2002, now focuses his energy on part-time insurance consulting, thoroughbred horseracing, fishing, and spectator sports.
He resides in Eagan, Minn., with his wife, Carol. The couple has a son, Christopher.
Lance Coleman can attribute some of his success on the football field to fellow Hall of Fame inductee Scott Ammons, but he alone sprinted his way to All-America and MIAA awards on the track.
Coleman didn’t make the initial trip to Albion from Grand Rapids with All-America aspirations. An eighth-place finish in the 100-meter dash during the 1989 NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships was the springboard to success. He moved up to fourth in the nation in 1990, and third in 1991.
On the league level, he earned All-MIAA status in track all four years, twice as the most valuable athlete, and he continues to hold the standard in the 100 meters at 10.5 seconds. He claimed five individual league titles (winning the 100 meters three times, and the 200 meters twice).
On the football field, Coleman was a member of Coach Pete Schmidt’s first back-to-back MIAA championship teams in 1989 and 1990. He was voted to the All-MIAA second team in 1989 and to the first team in 1990.
Coleman entered the work force in sales and service for Steelcase, but was persuaded to return to Albion where he currently holds the position of senior associate director of admissions and is a member of the football and men’s track and field coaching staffs.
He lives in Albion with his wife, Kristi.
Joe Cooper has been designated for special recognition after decades of service as the MIAA’s supervisor of football and basketball officials.
Cooper first joined the MIAA as an official in football and basketball in 1957. In 1971, under former MIAA commissioner Al Deal, Cooper was named the supervisor of officials for football and men’s basketball. His role was expanded to include women’s basketball when women’s sports were added to the MIAA in 1978.
“Since then, whether on a sunny day in October at one of our MIAA football fields or sitting in a gym on a cold January evening, you could find Joe sitting quietly, without any fanfare, observing and evaluating officials, diligently working to improve MIAA officiating,” said MIAA commissioner David Neilson, ’66.
After earning a degree in education at Western Michigan University, Cooper moved to the Marshall area with his wife, Willo, in 1948 when he taught at the high school and began what would be a 17-year baseball coaching career. Cooper continued officiating part-time for area high schools and colleges in southwestern Michigan before being hired by the MIAA. He has also served as president of the American Amateur Baseball Congress.
Joe and Willo are the parents of three grown daughters, Martha, Carolyn, and Becky.
Joe Felton was set to attend the University of Michigan—he even had the letter from Wolverines’ head coach Bo Schembechler hanging on his wall. His plans changed when he injured his left knee in the sixth game of his senior football season, and his interest in medicine brought him to Albion. The Britons were happy to have Felton on their teams as he became an All-MIAA performer in football and track and field during his collegiate career.
As an offensive guard on the gridiron, Felton was the leader of the line that opened holes for Lance Brown to rush for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 1985 season. The Britons posted a 4-0-1 record against league rivals in winning the MIAA title, and Felton was an All-MIAA first-team selection. Felton repeated as an All-MIAA first-teamer and added All-America awards from the Associated Press and Football News.
In the spring, Felton was a two-time MIAA shot put champion and a three-time All-MIAA performer.
Felton continued his football career in 1987 when he suited up for the Detroit Lions as a replacement player during the NFL players’ strike, and he played in the Arena Football League from 1988 to 1990.
He turned his attention to judo in the 1990s, winning a bronze medal in the 1995 U.S. Nationals, and silver medals at the 1997 U.S. Open and 1999 Pan American Championships.
He works for America’s Pride in Seekonk, Mass.
As another defensive standout on the football field, Mike Grant helped Albion end a seven-year MIAA title drought as the Britons posted a 4-0-1 record against their league rivals in 1985.
A two-time All-MIAA first-team defensive back, Grant ranked third on the team with 83 tackles in 1985. He earned All-America honors, the MIAA defensive most valuable player award, and recognition as Sigma Nu fraternity’s National Athlete of the Year after a 1986 campaign highlighted by collecting 70 tackles, tying the school record for interceptions in a season, and recovering two fumbles.
Grant was not only a star on the football field. He was also a member of the lacrosse team, and he distinguished himself academically, becoming a first-team Academic All-American in 1986 as well as graduating magna cum laude.
Grant currently works as a principal of Costello & Sons Insurance Brokers in Irvine, Calif., where he specializes in the design of custom risk management programs for technology companies. Prior to entering the insurance industry, Grant held a number of positions in accounting and financial services with national firms. He holds the Certified Public Accountant designation in California.
Grant and his wife, Sandra, reside in Santa Ana, Calif., with their children Jacob, Jessica, and Bailey.
Jim Knudson was an All-MIAA performer in two sports at Albion, and his pitching helped the Britons claim a pair of MIAA titles on the diamond during his career.
Boosted by Knudson’s 3-0 record on the mound, Albion won the 1976 MIAA baseball title with a 10-2 league record. Knudson, who served the team as one of the tri-captains, was voted to the All-MIAA first team after a season in which he struck out 20 batters in 28 innings.
Knudson also had a fine season on the mound in 1975 as he posted a 2-2 record in league play and finished 10th in the MIAA with a 3.18 earned run average.
On the basketball court, Knudson was an All-MIAA second-team selection in 1976 as the Britons posted a 17-win season and finished a game behind Calvin in the race for the league title in Mike Turner’s second year as head coach. Knudson led the MIAA in free throw shooting, connecting on 88 percent of his attempts, and tied for sixth in the league in scoring at 16.3 points per game. He averaged 13.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the field and 87.2 percent marksmanship from the free throw line during the 1974-75 campaign.
Now a manager for AirTech Controls, a pneumatic controls and automation company in Wixom, Knudson has also volunteers in his community, including coaching girls’ youth soccer.
Knudson and his wife, Melissa, reside in Beverly Hills with their daughters, Jennifer and Lauren.
Jim Russell is celebrating two inductions into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition to his individual award, the 1962-63 swimming team, of which Russell was a member, is also being honored.
Russell made a splash in his first year as a Briton, completing the 440-yard freestyle in a record time of 5:19.4. He would go on to lower the school records in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events and earn the team’s most valuable player award for the 1961-62 season.
Russell honed his leadership skills as co-captain of the 1961-62 and 1962-63 swim teams and as the vice president for Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
Russell went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Michigan before joining IBM in 1965. He started a career in higher education as an adjunct faculty member for Michigan State University and the University of Michigan’s Flint campus in 1980, and after earning a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1982, he moved west to faculty positions at the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark College. He retired from a position as the dean of business and computer technology at Mt. Hood Community College in 2001.
Russell has served as president of two Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the West as well as holding membership in Rotary.
Russell and his wife, Karen Greenwood Russell, ’63, reside in East Wenatchee, Wash. The couple has two daughters, Lynne and Pamela, and a son, Keith.
Suzanne Rustoni enjoyed a successful career as a scholar-athlete at Albion, and she was building a career as a teacher, coach, and cyclist when she perished in a 2001 traffic accident.
Rustoni was a four-year letter winner and a two-year captain for the swimming and diving team. She established school record times in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and 200- and 400-yard individual medley during the 1988-89 season. Academically, she was named to the MIAA’s Academic Honor Roll all four years, and she was a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the economics honor society. She completed an economics internship with British Petroleum in London.
Rustoni had worked in accounting for several years after receiving a master’s degree in international finance from Walsh College. She left the finance field to become a teacher and assistant swim coach at Birmingham Groves High School.
Rustoni also achieved success in cycling. She was the Michigan State Road Cycling Champion from 1996 to 1999 and qualified for the United States Olympic Trials in 2000.
Mary Washburn Suphan was an all-around scholar-athlete at Albion, competing in volleyball, basketball, and tennis.
Suphan was one of just two freshmen to earn a place on the tennis team, and she sandwiched a three-year playing career around study abroad in Vienna, Austria, her junior year. Albion inaugurated its women’s basketball program her senior year, and she served as one of the team’s captains.
A four-year member of the Women’s Athletic Association, she served as president of the organization her senior year. She received the WAA’s senior athlete and best athlete awards.
Suphan didn’t set the racquet down after graduation as she claimed intramural mixed doubles championships at the University of Minnesota—Duluth. She has also coached basketball and softball. Today, Suphan is active in kayaking, canoeing, power walking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing in addition to completing 600 sit-ups every day.
Since 1980, Suphan has taught English, English as a second language, and history in places ranging from the Marshall Islands to New York.
She and her husband, Robert, are the parents of two daughters, Anne and Jane. They live in New Windsor, N.Y.
The 1962-63 swimming team took on all comers and won, most of the time. Albion posted a 10-3 record for its best campaign in school history. The Britons defeated Central Michigan University twice, and current Division I institutions Valparaiso University and Ball State University were among Albion’s victims as well.
If the impressive victories weren’t enough, the squad set eight varsity records and six pool records during the season. Jim Russell, who is taking his place in the Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual, lowered the records in the 200- and 500-freestyle. Tom Pantlind, who was voted the team’s most valuable performer, swam to a record time in the 50-yard freestyle. Bob Schellig was undefeated in all 13 meets.
Mark Hector and Russell served as co-captains for the Britons who were coached by Bob Wikstrom.
Other members of the team included: David Betts, Peter Broerse, Larry Bush, Arthur Cash, David Davis, Armand DeLeurere, Gary Fahey, Gerald Fitch, Thomas Geggie, Robert Hyatt, David Kitchen, George Lewis, John MacDonald, Frederick Maibauer, R. William Matthews, Kenneth Peirce, Fred Rollins, Philip Rowan, Melvin Smith, Dennis Stamp, Lee Stubberfield, William Swan, Hal Tudor, and Richard Yeager.
Albion’s 1990 football campaign began with expectations of a solid defense supporting an offense that would have to mature and develop as the season progressed. By season’s end, the offense was ranked first in the MIAA, the defense posted a season-ending shutout, and together, the Britons earned the distinction of becoming Coach Pete Schmidt’s first back-to-back league champions.
Albion completed the season with a 7-1-1 overall record and a 4-0-1 league mark.
Hank Wineman shattered Albion’s single season rushing record, finishing with 1,200 yards on the campaign. Tom Harty established single-season marks for receptions (46) and yardage (773).
Eight players earned All-MIAA first-team awards, including Scott Ammons and kicker Steve Moffatt for the third time in four years. Two-time all-league performers were James DeBardelaben and Bill Johansson on defense, while Lance Coleman, Art Gray, Hank Wineman, and Tom Harty earned first-team spots for the first time.
Brad Smiles, Mike Montico, Brian Dawood, Gregg VanderKooi, and Bill Deery earned All-MIAA second-team recognition.
Other members of the team included: Jim Anderson, Geoff Armstrong, Kevin Ayrhart, Brian Barden, Eric Baxmann, Jamie Billo, Scott Bissell, John Brannan, Chad Burgess, Troy Burton, Gordon Cady, Jon Chick, Joel Comstock, Brian Coon, Gabriel Cooper, Cevin Cornish, Matt Crane, Ron Dawson, Pat DeBruyn, Shawn DeYoung, Dan Drahnak, Vern Elliott, Mark Falkenhagen, Steve Gilbert, Guy Hengesbach, Paul Hill, Peter Hill, C. Torrell Humphries, Ryan Irish, Michael Johnston, Leander Jones, Mike Juchno, Kris Knobloch, Brett Kuhlmann, Tony Lasher, Kenny Lee, Jamie Little, Joe Loeschner, Dan Martin, Mike McLaughlin, Mike McWilliams, Scott Merchant, Edward Merrill, Greg Michaels, Tim Mikesell, Lee Missler, Ray Moldovan, Mike Montagne, Adam Morris, Cam Mueller, Joe Mullen, Don Necas, Pat Ong, Mike Pente, Matt Rankin, Tom Reason, Dave Richardson, Brandon Roscoe, Dan Schmidt, Todd Sebold, Mike Shultz, Rob Shurmur, Dan Smith, Ron Smith, Anthony Sorge, Mike Spaccarotella, Spencer Stang, Keith Stewart, Matt Sutter, Keith Tidball, Scott Tinson, Paul Tippin, Jeff Urbanski, John Volmering, Rich Walsh, Tim Wyman, and Kelson Zehr.
The coaching staff included Dennis Bongard, David Egnatuk, ’71, William Feraco, Ronnie Parker, Greg Pscodna, and Len Vanden Bos. Connie Grauer was the trainer, and Walt Swyers was the equipment manager.