Alumni Keeps the Memory of UE Football Alive

College football may longer be played in the city of Evansville, however one group is still trying to keep it's memory alive.

Posted: Jul 1, 2021 6:08 PM
Updated: Jul 2, 2021 1:51 PM

College football may no longer be played in the city of Evansville, however one group is still trying to keep it's memory alive.

"Brings back a lot of memories," said Spike Bell, Unversity of Evansville linebacker, Class of 1971.

"The old war stories," said Bill Reckert, University of Evansville defensive back, Class of 1974. "They always change but get a little bit better."

"Oh it's fun! You know for me, personally, I love having these guys in here!," said Cameron Ellison, fourth generation owner of thhe Hickory Pit restaurant.

It's been a quarter of a century since the University of Evanville graced a gridiron. However, here at Hickory Pit Barbecue on North Main Street, Aces football lives on, the second Thursday of every month, as former players, students and fans get together to reminisce.

"This is sharing memories from long ago about University of Evansville football," said Dave Gossman, University of Evansville defensve lineman, Class of 1977. "The comradery that we had, not only with our teammates, but people travel in from far places like. Las Vegas, California, Northern Indiana, Tennessee. Alumni are all over the place. It just gives us a chance to rekindle friendships we had 30-40 years ago, and make new friendships with people we didn't even know."

"Typically we'll have between 15 and 20 people," said University of Evansville linebacker Michael Horn, Class of 1977. "We all communicate, by email. That's what keeps us going is the communication. That's what's so special about being an alumni of a university. It's totally different from a high school."

"Everything that we went through together and our love of the game," said Bell. "Football's a great game and we know it's not coming back to U of E."

And that's part of what fuels these get-togethers. In 1998 the University decided the program was no longer financially feasible, eliminating the sport after 99 years in the athletic program.

"Very tough on everybody, because that was comething that you were a part of," said Horn. "A lot of us gave all four years and supported it after that. There were like hundreds before me and guys I knew in this area that played at the University, went into coaching or teaching in our area. Just that aspect is very important to me."

"It was kind of bitter whenever football was taken way and they gave our field, Arad McCutchan Stadium, which was bought with football money," said Gossman.

McCutchan Stadium is now home to UE soccer, while the Aces other gridiron homes, Central Stadium and the Reitz Bowl, are strictly high school venues. However, thanks to the efforts of Michael Horn, an outside linebacker on the mid-70's teams, the memories remain on the University of Evansville Football Friends and Alumni Facebook Page.

"I started the project about four years ago," said Horn. "I just wanted to put on Facebook the four years that I went to school, the importance to me. I took every game from those four years. I re-typed from the newspaper. It took a while. But when I put it up on Facebook, guys started reading it. They were excited. Then I asked "why not extend it a little more. Go out and see what's out there. And it's just exploded and it's kept me busy for for years."

And then of course there are the monthly meetings at the Hickory Pit, which has welcomed UE football with open arms as well as a wall.

"Jim Ellison, who started Hickory Pit, is friends with Bear Bryant," said Gossman. "So, this was all Alabama. His son, Jeff let us dedicate a wall to the University of Evansville and that's a great honor too. We just love being around here."

"Having the University of Evansville alumni football team come in here is a great thing," said Ellison, "which is why we wanted to make them feel at home. I believe it also fits perfectly into what I plan to do in the near future, whenever I take full ownership, and kind of convert this into a little historic landmark for Evansville sports teams."

But for now, the Hickory Pit serves as the gathering place for a football program that lives on in the hearts of those who wish to remember.

"You're with all these guys, day in and day out," said Reckert. "Weekend and during the weekdays, with two-a-day practices. And you get to know them pretty good. So after you go your own separate ways, you kind of miss them."

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Today's high temperature of 87° was our warmest in a week and a half - we last climbed that high on the afternoon of September 18th when we tipped the scales at 88°. The remainder of the evening will remain quite mild under clear skies; expect temperatures to first fall to 83° by dinnertime before dropping to 73° by 10PM. The clear skies and weak southerly wind flow will help keep temperatures relatively stable during the overnight and predawn hours - we'll wake up to a morning low of just 62° early Wednesday morning.
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