11 NCAA Div. III national team championships
PELLA — A pair of highly decorated golfers and two memorable football players will be inducted into the Central College Athletics Hall of Honor.
All-American running back Mark Kacmarynski ’96 of West Des Moines, former defensive back and coach Brian O’Donnell ’70 of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., three-time Iowa Conference women’s golf MVP Cindy (Kline) Olson ’88 of Urbandale and standout golfer, professional and coach John Bermel ’84 of Cedar Falls will be inducted as part of the college’s homecoming activities Sept. 27-28.
A banquet will be staged at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27 in the Harry and Bernice Vermeer Banquet Hall in the Graham Conference Center while the induction will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 in the Schipper Fitness Center lobby. Both events are open to the public. Cost of the banquet is $20 and reservations are required. There is no admission charge for the induction ceremony. Call the athletics department office at 641-628-5226 for more information.
Central’s hall of honor is intended to recognize those who were exceptional performers in the athletics arena as a student-athlete, coach or administrator, and who have distinguished themselves in life after graduation through service and leadership. To be eligible for consideration, a nominee must have graduated or served as a Central coach/administrator at least 15 years earlier.
Golf professional—Bermel, a Keota, Iowa native, now serves as head men’s and women’s golf coach at the University of Northern Iowa, but his playing career has extended well beyond his years at Central. He has twice competed in the PGA Championships, one of professional golf’s four majors. He competed at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. in 1994 and Valhalla Golf Course near Louisville, Ky. in 1996. Bermel also qualified for a major on the Champions Tour in 2012, playing at the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. Bermel was Iowa Section PGA Champion in 1990 and 1993, while placing second in 1991 and 1995.
At Central, Bermel helped Central claim four Iowa Conference titles and earn four NCAA Division III tournament berths. After tying for eighth in the conference as a freshman in 1981, Bermel placed third in 1982 and then tied for medalist honors in 1983, but lost in a playoff. He was again second in 1984. He received Division III all-America honorable mention distinction three times as the Dutch recorded four straight top-10 national team finishes, including sixth-place showings in 1983 and 1984. Bermel was tabbed as Central’s outstanding freshman in 1981 and was named the team MVP in 1984, also serving as team captain that year.
Bermel has piloted the UNI men’s golf program since 1995, and began coaching the women’s team as well in 2002. He’s also a highly regarded golf instructor. He was named the Iowa PGA Professional of the Year in 2012 and was named “The Best Teacher” for Iowa by Golf Digest in 2009, based on a poll of golf instructors.
In 2011, Bermel received the Labron Harris Sr. Award by E-Z-GO in cooperation with The PGA of America, “presented to the college or high school coach and PGA professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game and who represents the finest qualities the game has to offer.”
From 1986-89, Bermel was an assistant professional at Mason City Country Club, Des Moines Golf and Country Club and Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo, and was named the state’s assistant professional of the year while in Mason City in 1987. He served as head professional at Beaver Hills Country Club in Cedar Falls from 1990-95 before taking over at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course, where he’s worked since 1995.
Bermel and his wife Tracy ’86 have five children who are active golfers: Abby (23), Jacob (19), Hailey (14), Hannah (14) and Ben (13).
All-time rushing leader—In a program with a tradition of powerful running backs, none racked up more yardage than Kacmarynski, who spun and slashed his way to 5,855 yards on 928 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 133.0 yards per game for his career. He becomes the first athlete to join a sibling in the Central Athletics Hall of Honor as his brother Rich Kacmarynski ‘92 was inducted in 2011.
Mark Kacmarynski was at his best for the Dutch in 1994, rushing for 1,971 yards on 266 carries for a remarkable 7.4 yards per carry and 179.2 yards per game. He rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight games.
Prior to his senior season in 1995, Kacmarynski was featured in a two-page profile in Sports Illustrated as a top national player of the year contender. But on the first play of the season’s third game, Kacmarynski suffered a fractured tibia and fibula, sidelining him for the year. He received a medical hardship waiver and returned to Central in 1996, gaining 1,603 yards on 288 carries over 10 games, despite some lingering effects of the injury.
Kacmarynski pushed the Dutch to conference titles and NCAA Division III playoff berths in 1994 and 1995. He was the 1994 league MVP and was a first-team honoree in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The 1993 Lankelma Award winner as Central’s top underclassman, Kacmarynski was presented the Schilder Award as the team MVP in 1994 and 1996 and served as a team co-captain in 1995.
In 1994 and 1996, Kacmarynski was a finalist for the Gagliardi Award as the Division III player of the year and was a consensus all-America pick in both years. He was named the 1995 preseason Division III player of the year by three national football publications.
The Mallard native was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame in 2009, having rushed for 4,881 yards and 81 touchdowns in three seasons, including 2,454 yards and 41 TDs in 1991, when he propelled West Bend-Mallard to the Class 1A title game.
Following graduation, Kacmarynski competed in three NFL training camps after signing free agent contracts. He was with the Chicago Bears’ camp in 1997, with the Philaelphia Eagles in 1999 and the Indianapolis Colts in 2000. He later signed with the New York Giants but then was not given a spot at the camp. The Eagles assigned Kacmarynski to NFL Europe and he played for the Frankfurt Galaxy, which went on to win the 1999 World Bowl, although he missed the championship game with a broken jaw. He then played with Amsterdam in 2000.
Kacmarynski is now a business partner with Kadeth Network solutions, based in Knoxville, performing computer consulting and engineering for various central Iowa firms. He lives in West Des Moines. Kacmarynski also volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa as well as with the Dallas Clark Football Camp in Humboldt. He helped found the Ron Schipper Memorial Golf Outing that Central hosts each fall and serves on the event’s organizing committee.
Inspiring story—O’Donnell was a standout defensive back for the Dutch who had a school-record eight interceptions as a junior in 1967, including four in one game. He still shares the school season interceptions mark with two other players. He had one interception in the first half of the following season, but suffered a traumatic career-ending injury during the 1968 Homecoming game against William Penn, when his spinal cord was severed, causing paralysis. The injury attracted nationwide attention and $40,000 was raised for the Brian O’Donnell Fund to assist with rehabilitation expenses.
O’Donnell received the team Mentink Award for leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration following the 1968 season. In 1969, the team established the Brian O’Donnell Award, presented annually to the team’s outstanding freshman. He received the college’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2000. Central also established the Brian O’Donnell Scholarship, which gives preference to students who have demonstrated the ability to overcome adversity through perseverance, courage and determination.
Through his determined effort O’Donnell was able to complete requirements for his degree from his wheelchair, graduating in 1970. He earned a master’s degree in counseling and personnel services from the University of Missouri in 1972 before becoming a guidance counselor and assistant football coach at Highland High School in Riverside, Iowa that same year. In 1976 he took over as head football coach, piloting Highland to a conference championship while earning coach of the year honors that season. He became head baseball coach as well before leaving Highland in 1982 to become guidance counselor and assistant football and assistant baseball coach at the high school he attended, Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
O’Donnell gave up baseball duties to become head football coach from 1996-2002, receiving another league coach of the year award in 1999, before returning to an assistant football coaching position in 2003. He retired from coaching in 2007 but remains a guidance counselor at the school.
In 1997 O’Donnell won the Personal Achievement Award from the Opportunity Development Center of Wisconsin Rapids. The award is presented to an individual with a disability who demonstrates outstanding achievement in employment and exemplifies sound character. In accepting the award O’Donnell said “you are only as disabled as you perceive yourself to be.”
O’Donnell and his wife, Bev, were married in 1970. They have a son and a daughter.
League golf MVP—Olson transferred to Central in 1985 after one year at the University of Iowa, and made an immediate impact during a lengthy title run for the Dutch women’s golf program.
Olson was the league MVP for the next three seasons, helping the Dutch win titles during a streak of six consecutive conference crowns, and eight in nine years. Olson was also the tournament medalist three straight years at the State Small College Tournament. In the years prior to the first NCAA Division III women’s golf championship, a small National Small College Tournament was conducted simultaneous with the state tourney, and she was national medalist twice, receiving all-America distinction.
A three-time winner of the team’s Maurine Timmer MVP Award, Olson was a team co-captain in 1987. She set a school season scoring average record of 80 in 1987 and her 18-hole score of 71 still matches the school’s all-time low.
Since graduating in1988, Olson has worked at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, now serving as Director of Project Management in the Retirement division. Olson and her husband, Bill ‘87 have two sons, Riley (17) and Isaac (19). Olson has walked multiple marathons and half-marathons to raise money for Breast Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease and served on the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors from 2005-2009.