HELENA -- On Sept. 21, Carroll College defeated the Montana State-Northern Lights to win its second game of the 2019 football season by a final score of 54-26. However, the meaning behind Saturday was more than just the game on the field.
At halftime Carroll College honored Jolene Fusezy, Marcus Miller and Jeff Hays as members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class.
"When you bring student-athletes back because you're recognizing them, because of their accomplishments ... they made a difference when they were here. So, to be able to bring them back and to be able to celebrate with them, doesn't get any better than that," said athletic director Charlie Gross.
Among the Hall of Fame class, two weren't student-athletes, but rather fixtures in Carroll College history: Bruce Parker, director of athletics for Carroll College from 2003-14, and former football head coach Mike Van Diest.
Parker, who moved on to become the athletic director at Rocky Mountain College following his tenure at Carroll, was ecstatic to be back celebrating those he watched over, partially because of what they did during their time at Carroll, but also because of what they've done beyond college athletics.
"I'm like a kid in a candy store, with all the great student-athletes that are back, and I mean that very sincerely when I say student-athletes," said Parker. "These all were great students, they got they're degrees and they've gone on to do great things and I'm just happy to be part of it."
Even though Saturday's celebration was to celebrate the Hall of Fame class, it also was to honor Van Diest's retirement and a way to say thank you for 20 seasons of service and guidance to those he helped not only as a coach, but as a mentor, as well. Van diest will be the first person to tell you, he was honored by the gesture, but the thanks should be going to those who gave him support along the way.
"It's really special to me, but it's not about celebrating me, it's about celebrating our team," said Van Diest. "Anytime I get a pat on the back, it's for my family."