After a year hiatus, local golfers, EMU alums and supporters were able to hit the links once again for the Yoder Golf Classic.
“We were really excited to have the turn out again,” said Doug Alderfer ’92, assistant superintendent of leadership and administration of Rockingham County Public Schools and organizer of the event. “Last year was disappointing to not be able to run the tournament, but we felt it was the responsible thing to do. To have the number of teams that we had, to come out and support EMU, under the new format, was really exciting for us.”
Started in 1992, the Yoder Golf Classic honors Paul R. Yoder Sr. He had a passion for providing support for athletes and the athletic program at EMU, and was honored with a Royal Service Award in 2006.
The event had a very successful revamp in the fall of 2019. The Classic historically has run the same weekend as EMU Homecoming and Family Weekend, but the revamp in 2019 moved it to September as a kickoff event for the Royals athletics year. A driving concept in the move was to better connect EMU supporters with the student-athlete experience, from meeting student-athletes and coaches at the Yoder Golf Classic to enhancing leadership development outside of traditional team activities.
Jeff Shank ’93, athletics Hall of Honor member as well as vice president of operations at LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, one of the tournament’s title sponsors, explained that LD&B’s commitment to non-profits, as well its relationship with EMU and education, were great reasons to get involved in this event.
“We sponsor close to 250 non-profits a year and some of that is higher education,” Shank said. “We’ve always been a longstanding partner with EMU and that relationship is important to us.”
Other ways companies could participate in the tournament, outside of playing, was to sponsor a hole along the course or to be a mentor sponsor. Harman Construction president Wayne Witmer ’88, who also played in the Classic, explained why his company contributed a Mentor Sponsorship.
“Personally, we have a number of employees, myself included, that were EMU alums,” Witmer said. “So, we want to support the college we attended and that provided great employees for us. We have also enjoyed helping EMU build their campus so from a business standpoint, we want to support those that put their trust in us as a building partner. And I do think EMU’s mission of trying to build ethical people with a broad focus in the community is something we support as well.”
Features of the tournament, which was held at Spotswood Country Club, included lunch for all participants, an EMU and LD&B golf towel, the chance to meet EMU President Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman as well as chances to win money on every par 3 hole. But more importantly, it gave EMU alum and supporters, like Shank, the opportunity to meet current student-athletes and to give back to EMU.
“It’s always really neat to see the community turn out for EMU,” Shank said. “As a former athlete, a soccer player, obviously I support athletics at EMU and see the value, as well as the lessons learned through athletics, and so, of course, I want to be part of that.”
The money raised from the tournament go to the general athletics fund, which helps all 18 Royals sports. But as EMU Director of Athletics Dave King ’76 explained, the tournament also is beneficial for current athletes to be able to start building relationships in the community with alums.
“I am very grateful for the alums who have stepped up to bring new life to this important event for EMU athletics,” King said. “Interaction with athletes provides a valuable personal connection for the community, and it gives athletes learning opportunities as they represent their sport and engage with the community.”
EMU and its athletics department would like to give thanks to all the hole sponsors and supporters who came out to play. They’d also like to give a special thank you to the event’s title sponsors, LD&B Insurance and Financial Services and Erie Insurance.