The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Duluth
A high point for UMD and its football program came this past December courtesy of senior Steve Blackmarr. The 21-year-old UMD linebacker was named the National Football Foundation's NCAA Division II football scholar-athlete of the year at an awards ceremony held in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The honor not only placed him among four finalists (including University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning) for the 1997 Burger-King Vincent dePaul Draddy Scholar-Athlete of the Year, but earned UMD a $25,000 grant for its general scholarship fund.
To qualify for this prestigious honor, Blackmarr was initially chosen as a NFF Scholar-Athlete for 1997. The NFF and the College Hall of Fame awarded him a two-year post-graduate fellowship for $18,000. "This hopefully will bring a little more light into our university and will help in recruiting for our football program," said Blackmarr.
Blackmarr was included in a group of 18 award winners representing four college football divisions (NCAA I, IAA, II and III) nationwide. The criteria used to decide on the honorees were: the candidate had to be in his final year of athletic eligibility, have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 with superior academic and leadership qualities, possess outstanding football abilities as a first-team player, and be considered an honorable citizen.
Earlier last fall, Blackmarr was the recipient of a 1997 Burger King College Football Scholarship award. UMD received a $10,000 check from Burger King for Blackmarr's academic, athletic and community efforts which will benefit the Jim Malosky Scholarship fund.
With a 3.81 GPA and a reputation as an all-around great guy, the tall, 225-pound, starting outside linebacker had no trouble fitting these requirements. "Steve is a wonderful young man who has put academics first and combined it with outstanding performance on the football field," said Bulldogs coach Jim Malosky. "He's never missed a day of practice, is very much a team player, and also finds time in his busy schedule to do volunteer work in our community. What an honor for both Steve and the UMD athletic program." Fellow senior Bulldog and 1997 team captain Josh Sandell added, "Steve is a very goal-oriented person and one of the hardest working guys I've ever met."
Blackmarr, an economics major, with a professional writing and communication minor, started his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota-Morris but transferred to UMD in the winter of 1995. Blackmarr was impressed with the school's diversity of classes, the reputation of the football program and of course the numerous outdoor activities northeastern Minnesota offers. Blackmarr showed that he had what it took for the award with his many other activities outside of football and classes.
His school activities include being a member of both the UMD Pre-Law Club and Economics Club, and spending time tutoring teammates and other student-athletes with computer-assisted research and writing. In the community, Blackmarr sets aside time each week to help Duluth elementary school students with their math and reading. "The kids love it, I love it and it helps the teachers out," he said. "I truly enjoy kids. You sit with them, connect, give them your undivided attention and you can see by the look in their eyes how much it means to them. I wish I had more time to spend with kids."
Judy Blackmarr, junior high school English teacher, and Tom Blackmarr, law enforcement officer for the Cass County environmental services department, couldn't be prouder of their son. "I consider our sons to be multi-talented and well-rounded. We've wanted them to be as diverse as possible and give themselves as many options in life as possible," said Judy.
The Blackmarrs are of Native American heritage and live on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation on Portage Lake near Bena, 35 miles east of Bemidji, Minnesota. "My parents pushed me and my younger brother Matt to do well in whatever we tried and I pride myself in never quitting anything." said Steve. "There's no secret, it's just hard work."
After graduation, Steve intends to go to law school, attend U.S. Marine flight school, or work a year or two in the financial sector (preferably investing or credit managing). He has applied to law schools in Minnesota and at Stanford University in California where he plans to use his fellowship to earn a law degree. "Some of the law schools I'd rate as sure shots and others as long shots, but I don't want to think that any school is out of my reach."
Women's ice hockey, which has flourished as a club sport at UMD during the past decade, will begin competing at the NCAA Division I level beginning with the 1999-2000 season.
"Adding women's hockey will give women athletes at UMD an opportunity to compete at the varsity level in the fastest growing sport in Minnesota," stated Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin. "With the recent growth in the popularity of the sport, particularly in Minnesota, UMD is thrilled to elevate our women's ice hockey program from club to varsity status, and we look forward to building on UMD's strong hockey tradition."
First-year Athletic Director Bob Corran also stressed the importance of this intercollegiate addition. "This is a great day for UMD athletics," he said. "The addition of women's ice hockey is another step forward in our plan to build the best athletic program at UMD."
A search for a full-time head coach is underway and one is expected to be named later this spring. The Bulldogs will play as a club team for one more season (1998-99) before joining the NCAA I ranks the following year.
The addition of women's ice hockey will bring the total number of intercollegiate sports offered by UMD to 15 (eight women and seven men).
Thirteen former Bulldog standouts were paid a lasting tribute this past October by being inducted into the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame.
Among the group of enshrinees was current National Hockey League superstar Brett Hull (1984-86), who now skates with the St. Louis Blues, and former hockey All-Americans Pat Boutette (1970-73), Norm Maciver (1982-86), Mark Pavelich (1976-79), and Bill Watson (1982-85). They were joined by Tom Adams (football and basketball, 1958-62), Dave Lindstrom (football and basketball, 1958-61), Sherri Mattson (basketball, softball and volleyball, 1971-75), Rudy Munson (basketball, 1947-50), Roy Moren (basketball, 1933-37), Harry Oden (basketball and track, 1959-63), Sue Sajevic (basketball, softball and volleyball, 1979-84) and long time sports broadcaster Marsh Nelson.
The athletes were honored both at a banquet and at halftime of the UMD-Moorhead State homecoming football game. The UMD Athletic Hall of Fame now consists of 46 members from four different induction classes.
Joyce and Dave Goldberg have established a $50,000 endowed Men's Basketball Scholarship. Dave Goldberg, '57 alumnus and long-time basketball supporter, and his wife have made a commitment that will make a big difference to the men's basketball program.
An interesting component of the the award is that it favors students who have a high school graduating class of 100 or fewer students. It is not a need-based scholarship but students must maintain a good GPA and full-time status. One or two scholarships between $500 and $4,000 will be awarded each academic year.
"Dave and Joyce Goldberg were two of the first people I met when I came to Duluth," said Bob Corran, UMD's new athletic director. "They showed me the positive way people feel about UMD athletics. Meeting the Goldbergs made me realize that living and working in Duluth would be great."
Dave has been an enthusiastic booster. He was an active member of the Hoop Club and now is part of the new booster group, the Bulldog Club. Corran said, "Joyce joins Dave with concerns about the well being and the growth of the team. With this gift they have contributed financially to demonstrate their beliefs."
The scholarship funds are designated to help the team maintain and expand funding for basketball scholarships. Corran said that scholarships of this kind are an example for other athletic department supporters. He said, "If each of our teams had supporters like the Goldbergs, we would take a tremendous stride forward in creating a very positive future for the UMD athletic program."