By Jory Hagen, SBM Sports Editor
Messiah College is full of student athletes that have expressed a love and dedication to not only their studies and ministries, but into Messiah athletics. Coaches, players, managers, and fans have left their blood, sweat, and tears on the floor, grass, turf, and dirt of Messiah College.
Thousands have competed at a high level and valued their teammates over themselves, but only a select few have their names engraved in the Messiah Hall of fame. We selected a few “hall of famers” that had profound impacts on Messiah College athletics to nostalgically highlight.
Luke Drescher, a sports administrator at Messiah, may have had the greatest impact on Messiah sports as a whole than anyone else to ever walk the campus. Drescher served as Messiah’s first ever Athletic Director, and Sports Administrator, from 1961-70. Under Drescher’s leadership, Messiah College adopted its name and mascot, The Falcons. It was also under his leadership that most of Messiah’s athletic programs moved from the club/intramural level to the varsity level. However, Drescher was more than just an Administrator and Director; and actually spent at least one year coaching six different sports. During his tenure, Drescher coached men’s soccer, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, track & field, cross country, and baseball. All of these sports were in their first year of varsity level status under Drescher’s leadership. Fittingly, Drescher is also known for his book titled “New Beginnings and Transitions”, a historic review of the early days of Messiah physical education, intramural, and intercollegiate programming. Luke Drescher certainly poured his heart into Messiah Athletics, and was no doubt a gigantic part of the formation of Messiah Athletics.
Danae (Chambers) Hollenbach, ’16
Hollenbach’s (Chambers during tenure at Messiah) plaque also signifies her greatness at the National level in its first sentence. Her plaque states “Chambers is arguably the most accomplished and skillful field hockey player in NCAA Division III history.” At the very least Hollenbach’s time at Messiah will be remembered due to her offensive talent and contributions to the field hockey squad. Hollenbach knew how to pad her own stats, as well as her teams, as her 297 career points helped Messiah to four Conference Championships, three trips to the Division III Final Four, and two finishes as the National Runner-Up. Although Hollenbach never won a National Championship, she is admittedly the greatest talent to ever go through the Messiah Field Hockey program. Individually, she was a four-time NFHCA First Team All-American and was named the 2004 National Player of the Year. She was also four-time First Team All-Conference, and won the Conference Player of the Year award in each of her final three seasons. Most prominently, Hollenger is a National scoring leader, and to this date her 297 career points stands at second all time at the National DIII level.
Chris Boyles, ’02
Chris Boyles impact on Messiah athletics can be understood at a quick glance at his hall of fame plaque. The first sentence on his plaque reads “[Chris is] considered one of the most accomplished student-athletes in the history of the Falcons.” Boyles, debatably the best track and field player in Messiah history, holds plenty of Falcon records. Upon induction, he ranked first all-time for Messiah in the Decathlon, indoor and outdoor High Jump, indoor Pentathlon, and indoor 55-meter Hurdles. Boyles also accomplished a great deal outside the realm of Messiah sports as well, as he has been recognized on the
National and Olympic levels. He set the standard for post-Messiah athletic achievement; Chris was an Olympic Trials Finalist in 2004 and 2008, and was ranked 14th in the world in the Decathlon in 2007. Those achievements all came after Boyles finished his run at Messiah with two national championships. His first came in the 2002 Decathlon, and his second… in soccer. That’s right, Boyles also played for the Men’s soccer team, where he added another national championship to his hall of fame resume.
Jennifer (Wenger) Thuma, ’98
The Messiah Softball program has flourished over the course of its history, but Messiah softballs success may have never been as profound than during Thuma’s time in centerfield. Thuma (Wenger at the time) was a force to be reckoned with in centerfield and at the dish. Thuma owned almost every softball record there is at Messiah when she was inducted in 2012. When Thuma was inducted, she remained first all-time in single-season at-bats (160), hits (72), and on-base percentage (.594), and first all-time in career runs scored (137), hits (231), and stolen bases (92). Not only did Thuma pad her own statsheet, she led Messiah to three straight MAC Championship teams in 1996, 1997, and 1998. During her time manning centerfield, the Falcons advance to their first-ever College Softball World Series. Thuma left her stamp theras well and led the tournament with a .636 batting average. After her stellar tournament performance she would be named to the World Series All-Tournament team that year. Thuma’s impact on campus still exists to this day, as she helps coach the softball team, as well as teaching courses on campus.
This article can be found in the October issue of the Swinging Bridge Magazine.