When Kenneth Wall G’73, DPE’75, associate professor of sport management and recreation, reflects on why he supports Friends of Springfield College Athletics (FOSCA), he is immediately transported back to 1971.
In his vision, he is a brand new assistant basketball coach under then-Springfield College head men’s basketball Coach Ed Bilik. A stellar basketball player himself from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Wall is standing on the court in Blake Arena, listening to Bilik assert instructions to the players.
“When I heard Dr. Bilik address the team, I knew I wasn’t at St. Olaf anymore,” Ken says. “He redefined intensity.”
He respected Bilik’s dedication to the game, ability to prioritize, work ethic, and communication skills. Bilik became a mentor for Wall, and basketball became a way of life, influencing not only Wall’s career path but also his life with his wife, Sonja. Together, the Walls support the Friends of Springfield College Athletics (FOSCA) for the many ways in which the College, and its commitment to athletics, has touched their lives.
The game of life
After playing at St. Olaf, Wall coached the junior varsity team at Springfield College as a graduate student. He also coached teams in Costa Rica, where he served in the Peace Corps; Bolivia, where he was a Fulbright Exchange Scholar; Venezuela, where he held a contract with the Ministry of Education; and Columbia, where he was an invited clinician. He has also co-authored three books in Spanish on basketball.
He credits Springfield College for providing him with a solid foundation for his development as a teacher and coach and for playing such a prominent role in developing athletics on an international level.
As director of the Doggett International Center from 1983-2004, Wall promoted the international dimension of Springfield College athletics by offering counsel and advice over the years to coaches and student-athletes who were traveling internationally. He supported Coach Steve Posner’s men’s gymnastics team and Coach Peter Haley’s men’s soccer team, when they traveled to Hong Kong. He supported Coach Marta Picado’s women’s volleyball team in Costa Rica and the women’s and men’s basketball teams when they played in Ireland. And he lent his knowledge to Coach Joel Dearing’s men’s volleyball team in Aruba, as well.
Inspired by Springfield College Students
Sonja Wall G’76 was inspired by Springfield College in her role as a physical education and health teacher in the Springfield public schools. She supported Springfield College students in their practicums – and in their athletic pursuits.
“I witnessed the same passion in their approach to teaching as I did when we would discuss their preparation for Springfield College athletic events,” she says. “Their energy and enthusiasm made my teaching days more enjoyable. I, in turn, tried to support them by watching them compete.”
Sonja had the good fortune to collaborate with the Springfield College professors who supervised her students; many were coaches at the College, and she experienced their gifts both as athletic mentors and master teachers. She admired their grounding in the College’s Humanics philosophy—education of the whole person, in spirit, mind, and body.
“Thinking of those amazing Springfield College coaches and student-athletes inspires me to support today’s coaches and student-athletes, not only by cheering at their athletic events, but by continuing to make annual donations to the Friends of Springfield College Athletics fund,” Sonja says.
Reasons to Give
By giving to FOSCA, the Walls hope to help coaches continue to strive for excellence; provide much-needed funding for team travel expenses; provide growth and professional development opportunities for coaches, assistant coaches, and graduate associates; and purchase updated equipment and technological upgrades.
“Springfield College coaches care about the people they work with and constantly use their sports as a means to demonstrate the values of respect, tenacity, commitment, and collaboration that can be carried to life outside of the field of athletics,” Ken Wall says. “The coaches serve as a daily inspiration to me as they greet first-year students, then help mold and inspire them to become conference, regional, and national champions four years later.”