A Bronco Thanksgiving

It was in the year of 1621 when English Pilgrims sat down and shared a feast with the members of the Wampanoag tribe in the Plymouth Colony, in what is now Massachusetts. The tradition of Thanksgiving has evolved through the years and eventually became a day of celebration of family and home.

Most families sit down together on the last Thursday of November, the day that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in 1863. These families will sit down and enjoy a feast consisting of turkey (coincidentally Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as the national emblem instead of the Bald Eagle), dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. In the 1900's another tradition on Thanksgiving Day began, the playing of college football and eventually professional football.

These football games have become as much a part of this holiday as has the turkey and sports in general has become a source of escape from the daily routine so many Americans go through. Sports have become such an important part of today's society more and more cities are seeing the formation of more sports teams then ever before. Kalamazoo, for instance, has 3 professional teams; the Kalamazoo Wings play in the United Hockey League, the Kalamazoo Kings play in baseball's Frontier League, and the Kalamazoo Kingdom is in soccer's Premier Development League. Kalamazoo also has a 2-year community college; Kalamazoo Valley Community College, which sponsors 8 separate sports, teams. Kalamazoo College is a 4-year institution in the NCAA's Division III. Kalamazoo College sponsors 16 sports teams (8 men's teams and 8 women's teams).

However, on an annual basis, locally Western Michigan University, a 4-year institution that is a member of the NCAA Division IA has been the biggest draw in town as far as athletics is concerned. With a student enrollment of over 28,000 Western Michigan University provides student athletes the opportunity to participate in 18 different varsity sports (10 women's teams and 8 men's teams). So as we ponder over the soon to be 100 years history of the university there are quite a few things we have to be thankful for as Western Michigan University students, athletes, alumni and fans.

As a fan of the most wired university in the State of Michigan, here is what I have to be thankful for, with a Broncos theme:

President Elson Floyd – despite his leaving for Missouri Dr. Floyd has made his mark on the university and the City of Kalamazoo and will not be forgotten. Thank you Dr. Floyd, you will not be forgotten.

Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard – what can be said about the athletic director who has brought in great coaches and has helped improve the current condition of Bronco sports? Thank you Kathy.

Broncos Football Head Coach Gary Darnell – Coach Darnell came to Kalamazoo and in 4 years he set the best winning percentage for a head coach in the first four years of being a coach at the university. He also became the first head coach to win up in Mt. Pleasant against the Central Michigan Chippewas since Bill Doolittle in 1973. Thank you Coach Darnell.

Broncos Men's Basketball Head Coach Robert McCullum – In his third season as head coach, Coach McCullum has turned a basketball program that just 5 years ago had made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament and suffered through 3 straight losing seasons until posting a 17-13 record in 2001-2002. Thank you Coach McCullum.

Broncos Women's Basketball Coach Ron Stewart – Coach Ron Stewart came to Western Michigan University in 1997. His 1998-1999 squad had the single best turnaround in the country. He brought in Kristen Koetsier, a winner on and off the court as well as the 2001-2002 V Foundation Comeback Player of the Year Award winner. Thank you Coach Stewart.

Broncos Hockey Coach Jim Culhane – Coach Culhane became the head coach of his Alma Mater in 1999. Coach Culhane had the task of turning around a hockey program that had suffered through losing 18 straight games in the 1998-1999 season. Coach Culhane has successfully turned around a program that was going in the opposite direction than was intended and is now considered one of the premier programs in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Thank you Coach Culhane.

Broncos Baseball Coach Fred Decker – Coach Decker became the head coach of his Alma Mater in 1975 and since has posted a 723-627-6 record to become one of the winningest coaches in NCAA baseball. Thank you Coach Decker.

We are all thankful for all of the following coaches to be wearing the Broncos logo:

Cathy George – Volleyball Head Coach
Kelly Lycan – Women's Track and Field/Cross Country Head Coach
Mike Turk – Men's Track and Field Head/Cross Country Head Coach
Dave Morin – Men's Tennis Head Coach
Betsy Kuhle – Women's Tennis Head Coach
Jill Janik – Synchronized Skating Head Coach
Kathy Leitke – Softball Head Coach
Mike Haines – Women's Soccer Head Coach
Chris Karwoski – Men's Soccer Head Coach
Terry Karwoski – Gymnastics Head Coach
Cindy Trout – Golf Head Coach

Thank you coaches.

Many thanks go out to the Marketing, Media Relations, and Ticketing departments. We are thankful for such people as Bob D'Amelio, Jeff Rank, Daniel Jankowski and Don Beyer to name a few. As we sit down to eat our Thanksgiving Day feasts, lets not forget those that make it possible to enjoy Bronco athletics for 9 months out of the year.

But most importantly we should be thankful for the student-athlete who makes it possible for us to look forward to attending a sporting event or two. Thank you to all of you who continue to pursue your dream and have chose WMU as the place to strengthen and sharpen you talents.

To everyone on Broncos Illustrated and our visitors:

Happy Thanksgiving

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