Family Is Forever

1985 MAC Championship team enjoy reunion of a lifetime

Family Is Forever

By Jacquie Nelson

The weather was perfect. There were calm winds and sunny skies Oct. 10 when the 1985 MAC Championship football team gathered for a day of memories, camaraderie, love and football. The crowd was filled with smiles, warm embraces, handshakes, and pats on the back. Many of these "Falcon brothers" had not seen each other in 30 years, but to any outsider it appeared time had stopped. These teammates have always been much more than a football team—they're a Falcon family.

Prior to the football game against UMass, this diverse group of men enjoyed tailgate grub while sharing old tales and meeting family members. Mark Nelson ’88 ’92, who currently works at BGSU and was the driving force behind planning the reunion, thanked all those that helped plan the event and noted that there were men who had traveled from California, Texas, Arizona, Washington and Florida to attend. 

“It was an incredible weekend to see so many members from our team return to campus to celebrate a perfect 11-0 season and share in the camaraderie," said Nelson.  "As we talked about our time at BGSU and caught up on our current lives it seemed like no one wanted the weekend to end. It was a truly remarkable weekend."

Mark Miller ’78, the team's quarterbacks coach, reminded them how lucky they were to have played for BGSU, earn a degree and develop lifelong friendships. He reflected on the ups and downs of the '85 team and the hope held by the coaches to go undefeated and win the MAC Championship. He said this group worked hard, did the preparation and lived up to their individual potential. 

“We were really good, and an especially close team, no troublemakers to speak of,” said Miller. “And it was winning as a team that cemented these lifelong relationships.” 

Former Falcons Ronald Todd and Kyle Kramer '89 (2013 Hall of Fame Inductee) also announced plans to create a new scholarship fund in memory of fellow teammate Colby Latimer, who died of colon cancer at the age of 40. The fund will help inner city youth from Dayton attend BGSU. 

In another twist of fate, teammate Ray “Sarge” Redd ’87 connected with his fellow Falcons and shared with Coach Miller that he has been batting stage 4 lung cancer and had postponed rehabilitation in order to attend the reunion. In the days following, his teammates set up a GoFundMe account to help “Sarge” with his medical expenses. 

As the weekend came to a close it was clear the "Once A Falcon, Always A Falcon" message lived on in the hearts and minds of the men who were there and their families and those who experienced it through social media.

“To see these guys was very emotional. I miss them,” said Miller. "People did not want to say goodbye to each other, grown big macho men were telling each other that they love each other."