Seven Norse athletes inducted into Hall of Fame

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The 2020 and 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees pose for a photo. Back row, from left to right (Class of 2020): Andrea VonBrinton (‘95), Jackie Wright (‘75), Athletics Meritorious Service Award winner Roger Jaeger, John Jaeger (‘05), Jim Helgason (‘70), Natalie Wyse (‘05), Richard Leake, Ryan LeBeau (‘05). Front row, from left to right (Class of 2021): Mark Hillman (‘86), Kyle McGivney (‘11), Christy Rusdal (‘96), Jodi Bofenkamp Mongan (‘96), Milt Hendrickson (‘96), Erik S. Bies (‘06), Jake Nimrod (‘01). (Photo by Ian Klein)

Over Homecoming weekend, six former Luther athletes were inducted into the Luther College Athletics Hall of Fame. The inductees included Kyle McGivney (‘11), Erik S. Bies (‘06), Jake Nimrod (‘01), Jodi Bofenkamp Mongan (‘96), Milt Hendrickson (‘96) and Mark Hillman (‘86). Inductees were honored several times on Saturday, starting with a ceremony at halftime of Luther football’s game against Nebraska Wesleyan University, followed by a reception at the Bentdahl Commons, before culminating at the induction ceremony in the Center for Faith and Life (CFL). The ceremony at the CFL also recognized the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 — Richard Leake, Jim Helgason (‘70), Jackie Wright (‘75), Peter Lawrence (‘90), Andrea VonBrinton (‘95), John Jaeger (‘05), Ryan LeBeau (‘05) and Natalie Wyse (‘05) — as all 2020 inductees were celebrated virtually due to the cancellation of all Homecoming events because of COVID-19. 2020 Athletics Meritorious Service Award winner Roger Jaeger was also honored during the ceremony.

McGivney was a safety and linebacker for the Luther football team. On the field, McGivney was referred to as the “King’s X”, a player that the defensive coordinator could rely upon to be anywhere he needed him to be at any given time.  He achieved All-Conference honors, was named the IIAC Defensive MVP, an All-American and holds the NCAA D-III career tackle record with a total of 545, as well as the single-season record for his 198 tackles in 2010. Currently, he is a State Trooper for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Bies was a member of track and field at Luther and also ran for Western Washington University.  He holds Luther’s outdoor record for 800m (1:51.20), and was on Luther’s record-holding 4x400m team, running the fastest leg of the relay at 47.49 seconds.  Dr. Bies achieved two postgraduate degrees, a masters degree in Human Movement and Performance from Western Washington University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Washington.  Currently, Bies owns and operates his own practice, Iron Horse P.T. and Performance. Bies, an eight-time IIAC All-Conference performer, said he really valued the connections he built as a member of the track and field team.

“The thing that sticks with me the most is the friendships,” Bies said. “We had a pretty close-knit group [of] runners, guys who’d study together [at] Preus Library. That really sticks with me.”

Nimrod played football, and was a member of the track and field team at Luther.  Nimrod was a member of the record-holding 4x800m relay team, along with Shaun Meinecke (’01), Josh Hildebrand (’02), and Stacy Sundet (’01).  The aforementioned relay team won a race at the 2001 DIII National Meet in Oshkosh, WI, the only Luther relay team to do so. Currently, Nimrod is an Assistant Principal and Activities director at Decorah Middle School.  In the summer, he serves as a baseball coach for Decorah Parks and Recreation.

Mongan was a member of the Luther swimming and diving team.  She set multiple records in the 800 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 1000 freestyle and 1650 freestyle. Currently, Mongan is the owner and treasurer for Mongan Painting LLP, the Assistant Auditor of Cherokee County, Iowa, and a board member of Lutheran Services in Iowa. She was happy to be recognized by the Luther Athletic Hall of Fame.

“It’s a great honor, and it felt good, you know,” Mongan said. “I always knew my achievements, and it feels great to receive this recognition for them.”

 

Hendrickson played football and baseball at Luther.  He was a captain for both teams, and was named All-Conference in football.  At the time of his graduation, he was top-10 all time at Luther in baseball for career at-bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, triples, walks, putouts, and fielding percentage. After graduating from Luther, Hendrickson initially joined DeSoto High School (WI) as a football coach until 1999 and in 2000 he was hired as a coach for the Luther football team.  In 2005, Hendrickson left the NCAA for the NFL, spending 13 years with the Baltimore Ravens as a scout and executive.  Since 2019, Hendrickson has been the Director of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers.

Rusdal played softball for Luther.  She achieved All-Conference honors twice, was named to the NSCA All-Region team, and was named a CoSida Academic All-American.  After Luther, Rusdal went to the University of Iowa, where she achieved a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy.  She is currently a home health physical therapist with Logan Home Health Care in Libby, MT.  Rusdal acknowledged that she was caught a bit off-guard by the announcement that she would be recorded in Norse history.

“It came as a bit of a surprise, but it is still a great honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Rusdal said.

Hillman was a member of both the football and track and field teams at Luther. On the track, Hillman achieved All-Conference recognition three times in the 110m High Hurdle and Intermediate Hurdle, and was a team captain his senior year.  Since his time at Luther, Hillman has travelled across the world, providing education in countries such as Tanzania, China, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil.  Currently, Hillman is the Deeper Learning Coach at The Graded American School in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he says he used his experiences as a member of Luther athletic teams to deal with his fight against cancer in the early 2010’s.

“My thoughts, as the doctor was explaining to me the path forward, immediately went to the workouts we were given here,” Hillman said. “You never could do it all, but you could do one.  That one would make the next seem less hard, and that was how that battle went.”

Luther athletes are typically nominated into the Hall of Fame during an anniversary year of their graduation, and information about nominations for the Class of 2021 will be released in the near future. A detailed list of requirements for nominating athletes as well as a full record of all Athletic Hall of Fame inductees can be found on the Luther Athletics website under the “Inside Athletics” section.

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