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While members of the Class of 2011 were enjoying their first time back on campus since graduation, and others from the Class of 1974 were celebrating their rope pull victory, others were just glad to be back at a place they can still call home.
Homecoming Weekend brought back many alumni from multiple years, but very few came back with such pep in their step as David Ward and John Pearson. Ward, a member of the Class of 1938, and Pearson, class of 1950, fully participated in the weekend’s events and enjoyed being back on the Springfield College campus.
Although he arrived on campus as a freshman during a tough economic time in 1934, Ward soon realized that there was more than meets the eye at SC.
“It was a dreary place and none of the buildings had been painted in years for financial reasons because they couldn’t afford it,” said Ward. “But they had a wonderful faculty and it was probably the most important thing that happened to me, coming to Springfield College.”
Aside from his education, Ward enjoyed his time on the soccer team, as he happened to be a member of the undefeated 1937 men’s team that went 9-0.
“We played against a high class list of opponents: Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, MIT, Syracuse. We had a man-sized schedule,” said Ward. “I was the center halfback for the team, and I played almost every minute of every game. I looked at a picture of the team from the archives yesterday and I got a kick out of it because I could still picture those guys and remember their names. We had a wonderful team.”
Although he may not have left his mark on the athletic fields quite as much as Ward, Pearson still enjoyed his time here at school and was involved in another athletic milestone. “I was on Archie Allen’s first team when he was here,” said Pearson, referring to Allen’s first season as head coach of the baseball team in 1948.
Pearson also came to Springfield on a very different route from Ward. After serving in the Navy for the better parts of four years, he bounced around from university to university before finally settling on Alden St. “[Springfield College] was right here, I liked it, and I was sick and tired of the big schools, so I tried a small one,” said Pearson. “I had a lot of friends here, and I like coming back for the reunions.”
While their paths differed on the route to a college degree, they came across one another in the professional field, as they both taught in Braintree, Mass. There, the two collectively impacted the lives of many, including Bud Woelfel, who heard about Springfield from Ward and Pearson, both of whom were his teachers and coaches. Having known alumni of the institution, Woelfel himself attended Springfield College and graduated with a degree in Physical Education in 1959.
“[Springfield College] was amazing; the people and the motivation and the energy that were on campus all the time, and the friendliness of everybody here,” said Woelfel. “I go on other campuses, and people just walk right by you and never speak to you; you feel like an outsider. Here, you immediately felt like you belong, and people would care; people would help you if you needed help, and we would help each other out.”
Although he didn’t arrive on campus during a time of economic downfall or as a War veteran, Woelfel had to pay his own way through college. He would sometimes work two jobs to pay off bills on top of being a full-time student and three-sport athlete. Woelfel feels that the tough times helped shape him as a person and keep him grounded.
“We were workers. Nothing was given to us and we didn’t expect anything [from our parents],” said Woelfel. “I think there’s a lot to be said of that because we really appreciated it, and even now, no matter what success level we get to, we don’t forget [where we came from].”
While the current student body is enjoying their time on campus, the alumni certainly enjoy returning and certainly not forgetting their origins at Springfield.
“I’ve learned how to take care of my body and stay healthy and I give credit to Springfield College,” said Ward. “I learned so much here that’s helped me all of my life.”
Nate Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org