Keeping it in the family

What does it mean to be an athlete at Muhlenberg? Alumni have answered this first with their actions, and in remarks.

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Over this past weekend, Sept. 8-10, Muhlenberg alumni traveled from all over to seek the nostalgic feelings only felt when walking through those red doors and to spark meaningful conversations with older but familiar faces. This is the weekend where “Go Mules!” easily replaces “Hello” and cardinal is the proud color of every shirt and hat.

Several alumni attended athletics events over the weekend, many who were once Muhlenberg student-athletes. While reminiscing on their years spent wearing Muhlenberg jerseys, a handful of alumni were asked to share their favorite memories during their time as student-athletes and how those experiences shaped them later on. A bit of research into the Muhlenberg archives brings life to the alumni remarks. 

One of three captains of the 1973 men’s soccer team and philanthropic supporter of the college, John Scally Jr. ‘73, was a part of the very first team in Muhlenberg history to make the NCAA tournament in 1972. “[In 1973] we beat Philadelphia Textile who was #3 in the country,” explained Scally. “At home, in overtime, we had two freshmen on the team – one of them scored the tie goal and the other the winning goal.” Scally took his experiences from Muhlenberg and went on to earn his J.D. from Catholic University in 1976. “The experience was amazing, it was a very tight team,” adds Jeff Rank ‘73, a Muhlenberg Weekly writer and student athletic trainer for the 1973 men’s soccer team.

Current Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Sean Topping ‘98 shares his unique perspective as both a player and coach on the same pitch nearly 25 years later. The co-captain of the 1997 Muhlenberg Centennial Conference championship team stated, “First and foremost, my teammates and being a men’s soccer player here at Muhlenberg were my world, so much so that I decided to go down the path of being a college soccer coach.” An obvious testament to the passion Topping carries into his career everyday is further evident in his 200+ career wins, five NCAA tournament bids and four Centennial Conference Championships, the most recent one being last year. “I feel that athletes, especially as tight knit as Muhlenberg teams are, have a huge advantage when transitioning to college as they are part of a big team family and athletic community right away. I took great pride whenever I stepped on the field knowing I was representing Muhlenberg and it’s my hope that I instill that in the teams I coach.” Coach Topping has definitely found a way to instill that same pride in his players. 

High scorer of both the 1973 Muhlenberg varsity field hockey and women’s club lacrosse teams, Barbara Gunning ‘73, described her time as a female student-athlete simply, “We did it for the love of it.” Gunning and the other female athletes that composed the women’s club lacrosse team in 1973 did not know they were paving the way for the 1984 birth of Muhlenberg varsity women’s lacrosse program. Aside from athletics, Gunning could’ve been found in any corner of the school: president of the ski club, vice president of student council, treasurer of the pre-law society and winner of the Citizens Change Corps award. “I learned many teamwork skills while being a student-athlete at Muhlenberg, which helped me in my career as a judge,” said Gunning, who served as the Environmental Protection Agency’s senior administrative law judge. Gunning went on to receive the 2020 Muhlenberg Evening of Distinction Alumni Achievement Award. 

Kenneth Wonderland ‘77 and Sam Stovall ‘77, co-captains of the 1977 track team, were dually present this weekend, commemorating their old stomping grounds together again. Wonderland, who failed to mention he was also senior class president, participated in shot, discus and javelin. “Track was a low key sport, Coach Flamish was excellent and never raised his voice,” said Wonderland. “The bus rides were the best. We always stopped at this one diner as a team after games in Lancaster. Our weight room was a bench and maybe 3 bars, I can only imagine what our athletes would’ve accomplished now. After Muhlenberg, I found myself on all sorts of teams. What you put in is what you get out.” 

2013 Muhlenberg Hall of Fame Inductee Harold “Sam” Stovall ‘77 captained both the football, and track and field programs during his senior year. He earned a total of eight varsity letters in the two sports. In addition to serving on the Muhlenberg College Board of Trustees and Board of Observers amongst other committees on campus, Stovall donated the goal posts that sit on Frank Marino field with the plaque stating “to Coach and Carol Marino who made us feel like family.” Stovall expressed, “Being a Division III athlete here meant being a part of a family. It was important to note that we were a part of coach’s family. The family didn’t give up on you and they always found a way to make you improve. I left with the best memories.” Stovall notably went 29-for-29 on extra points in his senior football season, giving full credit to Coach Biedleman because “he gave me the confidence to do so.” His cleat from that 1977 season can be found in the Muhlenberg Hall of Fame. If Stovall’s professional career is any indication of his time at Muhlenberg, there was definitely something to be said about being part of the family. After Muhlenberg, Stovall went on to become the Chief Equity Strategist at Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ in 1989 and now the Chief Investment Strategist at CFRA. He speaks regularly in the financial media as both a published author and analyst. 

The last name “Fahy” may sound familiar to Muhlenberg students who utilize the newest space on our campus. Gerald P. Fahy ‘79  and his wife Cathleen A. Fahy recently made the largest personal gift in Muhlenberg history, giving way to the brand new Fahy Commons building as well as aiding in the future expansion plans of The J. Conrad and Hazel J. Seegers Union. During Fahy’s time as a student at Muhlenberg, he was a running back on the football team. His name is found in the Muhlenberg football record books for career rushing yards (1036) and game rushing yards (200) versus Johns Hopkins in 1977. “Playing football and banging heads creates character and it prepares you for the rest of your life,” said Gerald Fahy. “Coach Marino was instrumental in me coming to Muhlenberg. I believe that Muhlenberg and my time as a student athlete here prepared me in business.” After Muhlenberg, Fahy founded and owns Kenvil United Corp construction company after 42 years of business. 

In the Feb. 16, 1979 issue of The Muhlenberg Weekly, Coach Frank Marino announced Jerry Galgano ‘80 as co-captain of the 1979 football team. The issue stated in the 1978 season, “Galgano anchored the defense [as a defensive end] and led the mules in tackles with 56 and sacks with five.” Galgano’s passion for representing Muhlenberg proudly did not end on the day of his graduation, nevertheless it grew when one of his daughter’s, Susan Galgano ‘14, attended Muhlenberg as a student-athlete on the women’s soccer team. Galgano’s philanthropic and volunteer efforts to support the College can be seen in each corner of the school. The President of Hilliard Farber and Company in New York, not only served on the Board of Trustees but played a prominent role in creating and publicizing Mule Madness as a source of fundraising for athletics and keeping alumni connected. Today, Mule Madness serves an integral role in sustaining the competitive edge of our athletics programs. Standing alongside the fence at the football game this past Saturday, Galgano reminisced about his time playing under Coach Marino on the same field. “Coach Frank Marino always said, just remember you are representing the family, don’t embarrass the family. Playing football at Muhlenberg taught me teamwork and in our company we always try to hire people who played sports.” 

Being a part of the Muhlenberg athletics family is obviously something very special. It is hopeful that someday Muhlenberg’s current athletes will support the College and athletics programs with equivalent passion. 

So, what does it mean to be an athlete at Muhlenberg? 

Galgano quotes late Coach Frank Marino, “You may not know the two people who sit next to you at graduation, but you will definitely know the two people you played next to.”

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