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Brandeis Athletics hosts annual Homecoming event

The weekend of Oct. 7-8 was a big weekend for Brandeis Athletics as it hosted a variety of events honoring the “homecoming” of alumni across all programs. The events catered to both the returning alumni, looking to reconnect with their achievements in the athletic realm, as well as current student-athletes, who were able to engage with the legacy of their own programs.

Saturday, Oct. 7 had a heavy schedule with alumni sporting events kicking off the festivities in the morning. Starting off at 10 a.m., swimming and men’s basketball hosted their annual alumni games, along with the first ever tennis alumni tournament in recent Brandeis tennis history. In past years, the event hasn’t taken place due to a fall season tournament at Bates College, which normally falls on homecoming weekend.

This homecoming marked a special occasion for Brandeis tennis, however. The current men’s tennis team welcomed back the 1989 University Athletic Association (UAA) conference champions as they returned to accept their induction into the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame.

At 11 a.m. men’s soccer hosted UAA conference opponents Carnegie Mellon University for the premier homecoming game, with a special halftime ceremony dedicated to the 1977 Hall of Fame baseball team.

Simultaneously, the Alumni Association offered a cookout and carnival next to the soccer field. Complete with inflatables, a petting zoo, pony rides and a beer garden, the carnival was a major success in creating a fun and energetic atmosphere for all the proud alumni to return to.

The Alumni Association’s carnival remained open to alumni and students through both the men’s and women’s soccer games. The men earned a win while the women walked off the field with a tie to Carnegie Mellon.

Inside the gym, women’s volleyball stomped out two visiting teams 3-0 (Gordon College and University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth), offering the returning alumni an energetic and positive vibe for their homecoming games.

At 4 p.m. students and a select few alumni joined together for an Alumni-Athlete Career Panel hosted by Hiatt Career Center. Part of Brandeis’ Homecoming tradition, the panel got current student-athletes in contact with graduated student-athletes with footholds in the career-realm. Students listened to how playing sports at the collegiate level shaped the alumni’s careers.

The panel spotlighted four alumni from varying career fields and sports. The first, Jessica Bergman ’91, was a tri-sport athlete who competed in basketball, softball and track, and now works in finance. The other panelists were James Collins ’09, a program manager and former member of the men’s baseball team, Maria Ellis ’85, member of the women’s soccer team currently working in medicine, and Brett Fitzgerald ’08, the former baseball player and co-founder of Northeast Mountaineering, a professional mountain guiding company based out of New Hampshire.

Shortly afterwards, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony began, celebrating the athletic achievements of one team and five individuals.

The entire 1989 men’s tennis team was inducted into the Hall of Fame for their championship UAA tournament season, NCAA Division III national berth, and the 1988 NCAA national singles champion Noel Occomy ’89. Led by head coach Tom Foley, the team inducted nine players who returned to Brandeis with “as strong a bond as ever,” the players said in conversation with the current men’s tennis team.

Men’s soccer inducted Jon Fobia ’73, who played various positions on the field and even racked in 13 goals in 11 games for one of his seasons. Men’s track and field inducted Greg Steelman ‘91, known to be one of the greatest discus throwers in school history. He set a NCAA Division III record in 1986 on his way to the earning the championship, and his record still stands today. Michael Mayer ’94 finished fourth in the nation in the saber event for fencing in his junior year, becoming the highest achieving fencer in Brandeis Athletics history.

More recently, Michael Goldman ’03 graduated with 12 New England titles and 10 school records in men’s swimming, earning him an induction into the Hall of Fame. Sara Albert ’04 was the last to be inducted. Albert ranked second in Brandeis softball history in triples, home runs and RBIs.

After the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, alumni from many graduating years gathered together with the current Athletics staff and students for a final Gosman Party, celebrating the legacy and history of the many student-athletes who dedicated their college years to representing Brandeis in their sport.

The final event of the weekend, on Sunday Oct. 8, was a softball alumni game, with returning players from various graduating years. The game unfortunately was cut short due to inclement weather.

The events of the packed weekend integrating the current athletic community at Brandeis with its legacy, and Brandeis Athletics set a good tone by achieving good results in the scheduled varsity games, not one of which resulted in a loss for the homecoming team.

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