NORTH NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) — Every team has a super fan. What makes Bethel College unique is the Threshers’ biggest cheerleader isn’t a student. He’s a Bethel alumnus who graduated in 1959.
Over 15 years ago, a man in his mid-70s at the time took it upon himself to stir up enthusiasm at Bethel football and basketball games. All these years later, that gentleman is a Bethel living legend who celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday, Dec. 9.
It’s a foggy afternoon at Bethel College. At the center of the quiet campus, in front of the Administration Building, is the symbol of the college: the Threshing Stone.
“Bethel College, with its total faculty staff, administration, is the threshing stone that gets that precious gem of wheat, the students, and they are precious, to make them more knowledgeable with things in their head of science, humanity, and Jesus committed into their hearts so their hands will help the world in which we live in,” said Loren Reusser.
Loren has been described by some within the athletic department as the heartbeat of Bethel sports. A lifelong supporter of Bethel athletics, he decided in 2006 to step up the level of pep at Threshers football and basketball games.
“His grandson was playing football here at Bethel, and he wanted to create a great atmosphere for his grandson. So, he started creating this great student section for us here at Bethel,” said Athletic Director Tony Hoops.
“And the President here didn’t know anything about it, and he started wondering what’s going on,” said Loren with a laugh.
“And then when his grandson graduated about four years later, he just kept doing it,” Hoops continued. “And he’s been doing it for now for 15, almost 20 years. He loves it. He’s the face of our student section.”
Yep. The face of Bethel’s student section is an energetic 90-year-old alum.
“He comes to football and volleyball, any sporting event here, and he hypes up the student section. He’s kind of our mascot, in a way. But more than that, he embodies what Bethel is about,” says Bethel student Luke Schmidt.
Schmidt and the “Stone Zone” student section surprised Loren with a birthday celebration on Dec. 7. Loren and his wife of over 60 years, Peggy, were recognized at halftime of the Threshers’ home game against Sterling College.
Loren was presented with a framed photo of himself in front of the student section. On the back were special notes written by all of Bethel’s head coaches. He also received a birthday cake, and the student section, along with everyone else inside Thresher Gym, sang “Happy Birthday.”
“Well, I’ve never had any feeling quite as exuberant and high in my life. If there wouldn’t have been the ceiling up there, I might have been able to jump even outside the gymnasium over the top,” said Loren.
Instead, he embraced his wife and took her breath away with a long kiss.
“I think what he really means for us is just a sense of appreciation for what we have. We use the word ‘gratitude’ around here and be grateful for what you have, and he exhibits that,” said Hoops.
So, how much longer will Loren continue to do his thing?
“Well, as long as I’ve got some length of life left in my being in terms of my body and my voice and my heart and my spirit,” Loren answered.
Like that threshing stone at the heart of campus, Loren will always be a fixture at Bethel College.