by Sabin Gratz
November 6, 2004: UVM football awakes from a 30-year slump and fields
a well-seasoned team with incredible depth at least 100 players
all of whom talk a good game, despite some wonky shoulders and
trick knees. The first campus reunion of UVM football players some
who have traveled great distances to see old buds, some with hearts still
unmended from the demise of their sport in 1974 begins with mounting
cacophony as friend finds friend, fittingly, in Patrick Gym's Hall of
The classes of the sixties and early seventies dominate the gathering,
but many war-era alumni also are here, bringing memories of battles beyond
the gridiron and adding depth of meaning to the days oft-described
Torrey Carpenter 48 is one of the latter. An eventual varsity player,
he started UVM in 1940, went into military service, and returned. I
was in so many different classes, I have four sets of numerals,
he says. He laughs heartily at his dubious claim to fame: I was
on a freshman team that not only never won a game but never scored a touchdown.
Bill Dorozenski 67 and Ron Gargano 70 reminisce about the
glory years of football with season stats of 7-1 and 6-2 in their
best years. A game against Massachusetts, whom UVM had never beaten, Gargano
says, was the greatest game Ive ever seen.
It was 21-7
at half time and ended up 28-21. The UVM receiver, known for always
grabbing everything, dropped the tying touchdown pass.
The stories circulating throughout the day and evening at basketball
and hockey games and dinner at Nectars are typical of any
reunion. Devious deeds gone undetected (alluded to more than once is a
late sixties under-the-radar foray to the Champlain Valley Fair,
naughty bits censored), accounts of careers, stories of love-conquers-all
happy endings, memories of faculty and, especially, of coaches.
Many alumni wait in line to talk to assistant coach John Coons, now wheelchair-bound
but resplendent in blue suit and Looney Tunes tie. Others trade tales
of other coaches: Bob Clifford, Les Leggett, Larry Gardner, Ed Donnelly,
and especially John Fuzzy Evans.
Bob Powers 51 laughs heartily as he describes his teams arduous
pre-season training under coach Evans, a tough old guy
the old school. Wed practice
two hours in the morning, two
in the afternoon, full equipment, no matter how hot it was. None of this
running around in a shirt and shorts.
By the time the season started,
half the damned guys were walking wounded. We peaked before the season
Most of the buzz, however, is about players. Gary Holtz 73, a defensive
tackle, says, To me it wasnt wins. It was the friendships
and camaraderie and the people I havent seen in 30 years.
Former UVM Athletic Director Rick Farnham 69, a defensive lineman
and kicker, agrees. I have lifetime friendships from football,
he says. When he speaks at out-of-state events, former teammates are in
the audience. And, for twenty-five years, he and Paul Simpson 69,
a quarterback, have had Friday lunch together. Farnham believes the bond
among football players is the strongest of all athletes. You work
so hard and have very little opportunity to play, he says. So
the magnitude of each experience is greater.
And so is the
intensity of the relationships you develop with those players.