A group of UW-Eau Claire men's basketball alumni worked for more than two years to make the naming of the Zorn Arena basketball court in honor of a former coach a reality.
The formal naming of the basketball court for former Blugold men’s head basketball coach Ken Anderson took place Feb. 4 during the halftime of a university’s men’s basketball game.
Anderson — himself a 1955 UW-Eau Claire graduate and former Blugold athlete — and a number of men’s basketball alumni attended the game during which former Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich formally named the court for the former coach, who led the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball program from 1968-95.
During Anderson’s tenure as head coach, the Blugolds garnered 14 conference titles and competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament 15 times. Anderson compiled a career win-loss record of 631-152, a winning percentage of .806. Anderson’s 631 wins ranks first in conference history, while his winning percentage is third only to that of former UW-Platteville coach (and current UW-Madison coach) Bo Ryan and current UW-Stevens Point coach Bob Semling (also a UW-Eau Claire alumnus). The next closest number of wins is 440.
Following a men’s basketball alumni reunion in 2009, former Blugold basketball players Todd Oehrlein and Tim Valentyn shepherded the idea to honor Anderson through the university’s procedure for naming facilities, and a core group of alumni and friends spearheaded a fundraising campaign. Private gifts of more than $100,000 have been pledged thus far. The funds are being used to support improvements to Zorn Arena, including the complete remodeling of the Gold Room (a multipurpose room in the facility), and serve other needs and projects for men’s basketball.
John Bachmeier, director of alumni relations at UW-Eau Claire, said it’s important for current teams to understand what it means to walk in the footsteps of the past so they can be inspired to create memories of their own.
“The current Blugold teams are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of such a generous gift,” Bachmeier said. “The tradition of UW-Eau Claire basketball is second to none in the WIAC, and it certainly illustrates the pride of the alumni who have stepped forward to support such an endeavor. The gift will help ensure that the history of success, the great memories of teams past and future, and the quality of the student athletes who have been a part of Blugold basketball will be enshrined forever within the walls of Zorn Arena.”
Anderson said he was very pleased about the court dedication, not only for himself and his family but also for all of the players and coaches who were involved in the program from 1968-95.
“I’m also happy for the many season ticket holders, boosters and fans,” Anderson said. “The student body was like a sixth man. We won 90 percent of our home games during that 27-year period. The arena was an intimidating environment for our opponents due to the excellence of our players and the great enthusiasm of our fans.”
For more information about the Zorn Arena improvements fund, call Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, at 715-836-5180.