Soccer Alumni Swell Homecoming Numbers

October 19, 2021 / Andrea Wenger
Alumni players and EMS boys varsity team after the homecoming match up on Oct. 16, 2021
Alumni players and EMS boys varsity team after the homecoming match up on Oct. 16, 2021

Thirty-three alumni soccer players (see list at end of article) swelled the numbers of homecoming participants this year returning to campus Oct. 15 and 16, 2021, along with those who attended meals, class reunions, athletic competitions, and a Celebration of Music at Eastern Mennonite School. (Read about class reunions — a thriving or dying tradition? — here.)

Alumni Soccer
The boys varsity soccer team worked hard against EMHS star players from as far back as 1993. The more easily-winded “elders” had the advantage of more than 30 teammates, making “fresh legs” easy to come by. The alumni players also had a lot to prove, while EMHS coach Ryan Eshleman-Robles used the homecoming opportunity to get all his players on the field, giving everyone time to experience intense field play.

Organizer Kendal Bauman reached out via text, Facebook, and email to former players from his nearly 30 years as head coach, drumming up keen interest in a short time. “Warming up with the players took me back to so many games from the past,” he said after the game, which ended with the alumni up 5-0. “There was a lot of reminiscing on the sidelines of special moments across the decades. I cherish the strong connections I still have with many players.”

Bauman resurrected a tradition he had as coach of giving each player a symbol at the end of a big game, which some told him they carried long into the future. On Saturday, he gave each player a playing card “to symbolize that you have to play cards with other people, that is how connections and life friendships are made,” he explained. “I got many emails and texts from players expressing gratitude… It was very meaningful.”

Scott Chico ’02 sent a photo of him, his two brothers, and their children to Bauman after the game, “Thanks again for putting it all together. Your passion is immense and inspiring. I’m thinking we may have just inspired the next generation!” (See photo at the end of this article.)

Other activities
The annual Homecoming pep rally moved outside Friday afternoon, thanks to COVID. “The change is awesome and one I hope we keep long-term,” said Andrew Gasho, athletic director. Students from K-12 participated in creative relays and cheered each other on in activities planned by the Student Council Organization.

Both JV and varsity volleyball had competitive play vs. Broadway with a packed gym cheering the varsity players on to five games before falling in the final game of the match. Face painting and popcorn by the student WeServe club before the games drew a lot of student interest.

The Saturday fun run/walk, organized by the cross-country team, brought out participants from elementary to high school age to color a shirt and traverse a two-mile course around and through EMS athletic fields.

About 200 people enjoyed a picnic lunch put on by the Booster Club, despite rain. Former faculty and staff gathered to catch up and reminisce with Rebecca Yutzy, EMS’s current most “senior” faculty member, and James Rush, retired long-time US government teacher, as hosts.

A Celebration of Music rounded out the activities. Student instrumentalists and vocalists shared in Orchestra, Winds, Jazz and String ensembles, as well as Touring and Chamber Choirs. The Rain Pickers — with Perry Blosser ’15 — and Good Company a capella group including four alumni — performed between the student sets.

One of the strings selections featured the work of alumnus Janelle Zook ’02 Cunalata with her arrangement of El Condor Pasa. Cunalata, who lived in Ecuador for seven years, is a composer and music educator in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Photos for this article and other EMS coverage are by: Trisha Blosser, Paul Leaman, Mike Weaver, Andrea Wenger, Delbert Wenger, Rebecca Yutzy, and alumni guests

Joel Yoder, 1993
Thabo Fisher, 1996
Jesse Blosser, 1998
David Wingfield, 1998
Kurt Holsopple, 1999
Eliot Swartz, 2001
Joel Ross, 2001
Jared Stoltzfus, 2001
Adam Shank, 2002
Ryan Chico, 2002
David Shenk, 2005
Scott Chico, 2005
Justin Weirich, 2006
Steven Stauffer, 2006
Jared Troyer, 2006
Kevin Chico, 2008
Brad Gunden, 2008
Bryce Shank, 2008
Austin Shank, 2008
Jeremy Sauder, 2008
Josh Hertzler, 2009
Matt Blauch, 2010
Mark Mast, 2011
Parker Leap, 2011
Isaac Driver, 2012
Drew Vrolijk, 2012
Chris Blauch, 2012
Bryce Blosser, 2013
Nikita Stoll, 2014
Grayson Mast, 2014 (assistant coach)
Daniel Nyce, 2014
Jeremy Sauder, 2010
Perry Blosser, 2014

Check out some more photos from this story

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