The quest that began in 2008 is now a mission accomplished, 11 years and 30 ballparks later.
An article in the Spring 2015 issue of the Coe College Courier chronicled the journey of Jeff Fink ’02, Nat Tagtow ’04 and Brad Axdahl ’06, whose annual baseball trip evolved into a memorial to Fink after he passed away in 2011. The tour group had grown to include Travis Wiltgen ’06 and Nate Clapham ’06, and over the past several years the four Kohawks have traveled all over the country visiting the remaining stadiums.
For the 2015 leg of the tour, the foursome headed south to visit Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers) and Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros). Next up in 2016 were AT&T Park (now Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants), The Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Athletics) and Safeco Field (now T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners). In 2017, they traveled to Florida to take in Marlins Park (Miami Marlins) and Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays). 2018 brought them back to Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs); although not a new stop, it was a way to keep the annual tradition going. And 2019 has been a busy season as the tour culminated with Citi Field (New York Mets), Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees), Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) and finally SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves).
Reaching this milestone brought mixed emotions. “There was a sense of pride and accomplishment to be able to say that we've seen every stadium, which is what we set out to do with Jeff back in 2008,” Axdahl said. “There was also a sense of sadness thinking back to the early years of the trip and how we've missed Jeff.”
Tagtow echoed Axdahl’s feelings, saying, “I do feel proud that we accomplished seeing all 30 stadiums. We made it a priority to honor Jeff and have stuck together through our busy lives to make sure we celebrate our friendship and Jeff's through our baseball trip. It is also sad in the same sense that Jeff couldn't have all of these experiences with us. He would be extremely proud, as well, and would have enjoyed this journey every step of the way just like we have.”
Although the original quest may be complete, the annual journey to remember Fink will continue. The group has batted around several options, including visiting the new Texas Rangers ballpark set to open in 2020 or revisiting the stadiums Wiltgen and Clapham haven’t experienced. Other possibilities include The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida, the All-Star Game and the postseason.
Whatever these four friends decide, two things are certain: lasting memories will be made and Fink’s life and friendship will never be forgotten.
One year after graduating from Coe, Kennedy Stomberg ’18 has completed her first year in the cognitive neuroscience master’s program at the City University of New York (CUNY).
Stomberg attends classes at the CUNY Graduate Center located in the heart of New York City. “It’s quite a jump from where I grew up and even quite a jump from Cedar Rapids,” Stomberg said of living and attending school in the city. It took a little while for her to adjust and find her way around, but she has come to enjoy the city. “Graduate school is right on 5th Avenue, so it’s near the Empire State Building and where everyone wants to go, so it’s super dynamic and cool to be going to school in that location,” she said.
One of the most enjoyable and exciting parts of Stomberg’s first year was being around classmates who are as passionate about neuroscience as she is. At the same time, when she first began classes last fall she was surprised to find some of her classmates had very little background in neuroscience when they started the program. “As someone who had actually majored in neuroscience, I was ahead of some people in a lot of ways,” she said.
Stomberg was also pleasantly surprised at the level of respect she received from her peers from the very first day. “It was kind of like, ‘Well you got in [to the program] so you must know what you’re talking about.’ I feel like, especially as a visually impaired student, I’ve often had to prove to people that I actually know what I’m talking about, and that expectation has never been there in graduate school,” she said.
A notable challenge for Stomberg has been balancing her research responsibilities with her coursework, trying to devote enough time to both her thesis project and her classes. Having taken many rigorous courses at Coe, especially in the neuroscience program, Stomberg felt she was more prepared for the difficulty of graduate courses than some of her fellow students. She credits her Coe professors with helping set expectations for the challenges she has encountered. “My relationship with faculty at Coe, with them reaching out and saying, ‘Yes, graduate school is going to be a lot harder than Coe’ really prepared me, and I really appreciate that,” she said.
When she was a Coe student, Stomberg took full advantage of the many opportunities available to her. She was involved in numerous extracurricular activities on campus, served as a tutor for other students and worked as a research assistant to Assistant Professor of Psychology Renee Penalver. She spent a summer at the Wilderness Field Station and studied abroad for a term in Denmark. Although her current studies keep her busy, she still finds time to serve as a mentor to an undergraduate student through a program at CUNY and is actively involved in her church.
As for her future plans, Stomberg thinks she eventually would like to get her doctorate but may work for a year or two first. “In New York City there are a lot of opportunities for people that have neuroscience experience, and I’m interested in looking at and understanding what those might be,” she said. “Right now I’m sort of exploring and figuring out what I might want to do because I didn’t really know that there were so many possibilities.”
Coe College physics and math major Martha Jesuit ’21 recently was selected for an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award and scholarship through the Society of Physics Students (SPS).
Jesuit’s love of research began just before her first year of classes at Coe. “I was invited by the Physics Department to participate in glass research two weeks before the start of my first year,” Jesuit said. Ever since she’s had the opportunity to travel the world presenting her findings.
Jesuit’s research on Tellurite glass earned her an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award. Awardees receive travel reimbursement and registration costs to attend an American Institute of Physics (AIP) professional meeting to present their research. Although she hasn’t made a final decision, she’s considered attending an AIP meeting in Japan.
As part of the award, Jesuit also will be featured in an issue of the SPS Observer, have her report published in the 2020 issue of the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics (JURP) and receive a $500 award for herself and $500 for Coe’s SPS chapter.
“I chose Coe because of the Physics Department and the opportunities for research,” Jesuit said. “This summer I’ll be researching and presenting in both the United Kingdom and Greece.”
Jesuit also was selected as the winner of a $2,000 Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) Underrepresented Student Scholarship. SSAI is a woman-owned business specializing in earth and space sciences, advanced computing, scientific analysis, instrument engineering, systems development and information technology.
“Martha is a self-motivated researcher who has done multiple years of glass research at Coe. She attended an international conference in Cambridge where she gave two presentations and led a team to Argonne National Laboratory to do X-ray studies on Tellurite glass. Martha is the author of two published articles and is most deserving of these two awards,” Coe Professor and SPS Chapter Advisor Dr. Steven Feller said.
SPS is a national professional association designed for students interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within AIP, an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies. Coe’s SPS chapter is consistently ranked as an Outstanding Chapter, an award reserved for the top 10% of SPS chapters.
When fellow Coe students asked Chelsea Crain Lensing ’14 why she chose to pursue a doctorate in economics, Chelsea routinely replied she wanted to be “the next Mickey Wu.”
Retired George R. Baker Professor of Stead Department of Business Administration and Economics Mickey Wu taught at Coe for 40 years. He was instrumental in generating support for the Spellman Fund and helped establish the Spellman Summer Research Program. He also established the Birkey Investment Fund and the women’s varsity soccer program.
“To me, he represented a faculty member who had been at Coe for a long time and made such an impact on the college, department and students,” Chelsea said. “So I told my friends, almost jokingly, I want to be the next Mickey Wu.
“It just so happened that Mickey was retiring the year I graduated with my Ph.D. He is the reason I went to grad school. And starting this August, I am the next Mickey Wu. It all worked out, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Chelsea is looking forward to switching roles and building relationships as an assistant professor in Coe’s Stead Department of Business Administration and Economics this fall. An Indianola, Iowa, native, Chelsea now lives in Cedar Rapids and enjoys playing golf. She completed her graduate work at the University of Iowa in May 2019.
As a high school student, Chelsea resisted the idea of attending a small liberal arts college in Iowa but changed her mind after a campus visit.
“I instantly fell in love with [Coe], the people and the atmosphere,” Chelsea said. “Everyone is so genuine and truly cares. The faculty cares about the students; the students care about each other … and Coe has an outstanding academic record. It was an easy decision for me. Once I visited Coe, I never looked back.”
Dougie Peters ’81 has worked at Coe ever since he graduated, and his dedication to the college is legendary. Local Cedar Rapids news station KCRG interviewed him to find out what makes him such a beloved figure on campus. Click here for the video and article.
Coe College will celebrate Homecoming October 24-27 with the theme "Game On!"
Alumni, friends and community members are invited to campus for what promises to be a memorable weekend filled with activities and fun.
Among the featured events are the All-Alumni Celebration and Silent Auction, as well as the All-Alumni Recognition Reception and Program. The annual Homecoming Showcase Concert will be held, as well as athletic contests, including Kohawk football versus Simpson.
Reunion celebrations will include those from the classes of 1969, 1979, 1983-1985, 2003-2005 and 2009.
Go to www.alumni.coe.edu/homecoming19 for more information.
Upcoming Alumni Events
July 25 — Coe on the RAGBRAI Route — Although RAGBRAI is staying south of Cedar Rapids this year, Coe College will still be on the route! If you'll be riding on Thursday, July 25, be sure to look for our tent in Libertyville, Iowa, from 1:00-4:00 PM for a pit stop.
July 29 — 38th Annual Coe College Golf Athletic Fundraiser — Join us for the Coe Athletic Department’s major annual fundraiser to support Coe's 21 men’s and women’s varsity sports in the American Rivers Conference. We are excited that this event will be hosted at Cedar Rapids Country Club. Registration and payment are due by July 18.
August 9 — 9th Annual Football Golf Classic — Coe College football alumni are invited to relive the glory days on the gridiron while spending time out on the greens at the Kernoustie Golf Course in Mt. Vernon on Friday, August 9. After golfing, enjoy dinner and a presentation by Coe coaches and players about the upcoming 2019 Kohawk Football season at 5:00 PM. Registration is due by August 2.