Feiereisel-Allen Golf Outing Brings Out the Best of Blue Demon Basketball
July 29, 2010
CHICAGO - They came from all over, representing different generations of DePaul men's basketball---all of them in their own individual way reconnecting with a proud tradition.
The 19th annual Ron Feiereisel-Dan Allen Golf Outing Wednesday at the Bloomingdale Golf Course was a living testament to a heritage that bonds all those who collectively make up the fabric of a time-honored program.
There was 28-year-old Drake Diener, the school's all-time leader in three-point shots, attending his first Feiereisel-Allen outing and standing just a few feet away from 87-year-old Dick Triptow, the 1944 All-American.
Emmette Bryant was back again, telling tales of his days playing with Bill Russell and John Havlicek on the 1969 NBA champion Boston Celtics and with Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier on the New York Knicks.
The modest ex-DePaul point guard never once mentioned his upcoming induction into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in September.
In the middle of all the colorful stories and playful reminiscing stood a 6-foot, 6-inch former Blue Demon center who is convinced he jump-started the Hall-of-Fame career of one Walt Bellamy.
Jim Flemming has been the organizer and catalyst of this event for the last 17 years.
"There's usually 14 or 15 foursomes and another 20 or so people for the dinner," Flemming said. "It's a way to keep guys in touch with the university, and we've had such tremendous support from athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto.
"All the proceeds from our event are donated to the Ray Meyer Endowed Scholarship Fund. In the last five years, we've donated $30,000."
At the age of 71, Flemming takes the time to enjoy each of these annual gatherings.
"In the past year, we lost Rob Sobieszczyk, Ed Curtin and Billy Haig," Flemming said. "Curtin and Haig were at last year's golf outing.
"When you get to be our age, you just don't know."
Diener, who brought along his brother Drew and some other friends, glanced around the banquet room and nodded his head.
"I'm all about history, and it's neat to meet all these players who came before me at DePaul," Diener said. "Until today, these were great names I had only read about in the record book or media guide.
"Looking around this room, most of the guys are from the 1950s and 60s. I'm going to get the momentum going to bring in the younger basketball alumni.
"I think I can do it. Even if you're not a golfer, just come to the dinner and be a part of this great tradition. I'm in touch with Sammy Mejia, Quemont Greer, Marcus Heard, Delonte Holland, Andre Brown."
Flemming brought about a very special reunion.
Bryant and former teammate Denny Freund last saw one another at the end of the 1964 season. In 2004, Flemming arranged for the two Blue Demons to reunite at a DePaul basketball game. They greeted one another with a big, warm hug.
"I'll always remember coming to that game and seeing Denny for the first time in 40 years," Bryant said. "Jim had told both of us he had arranged a little surprise.
"I'm not a golfer, but I come to this event to see the guys and hear how much the stories have changed. The basketball program is a great tradition we're trying to uphold."
For Diener, playing at DePaul has led to a successful career playing professionally in Italy.
Following his Blue Demon days, Triptow played six years of pro ball with the old Chicago American Gears and the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Pistons. He was nicknamed "Tip-Toe Triptow" by legendary Chicago sports announcer Jack Brickhouse.
DePaul had a huge impact on Flemming.
"There was no way I could have gone to college if not for a scholarship from DePaul," Flemming said. "Playing basketball there was a life-changing moment.
"Every job I've ever had in my 46 years of working was a result of my degree from DePaul."
Dan Allen, 42, and Ron Feiereisel, 49, are the sons and namesakes of their fathers, who have both passed away.
"DePaul was the most important part of my dad's life," Allen said. "He was a kid who grew up in Joliet and came to DePaul with the intent to play for Ray Meyer.
"But these guys were really good. Ray left him on scholarship and made him the team's manager. My dad always talked about what that meant to him. It was life-changing for him to come to DePaul.
"Every year I come here, I hear a new story about my dad. It's like his spirit comes alive when I'm here.
"You know, I'm not a DePaul alumnus. But these people make me feel as welcome as I do in my own family."
Ron Feiereisel's dad headed up the talented Feiereisel family that also saw his younger brother Richard (1957-59) and son Scott (1977-80) play on the men's team and daughter JoAnn (1978-82) play on the women's team.
In fact, Ron Feiereisel---an honorable mention All-American in 1953---later headed the Blue Demon women's basketball program and coached his daughter. He passed away in 2000.
"This event started out with 20 guys, and it has really grown," said Ron Feiereisel. "Since Jeanne became athletic director, she has reconnected all of us.
"I love seeing all these guys each year."
As for the golf itself, the foursome of Dick Flaiz, Denny Freund, Dan Marks and Al Zvinakis tied for first place with the foursome of Mike Curta, David Booth, Marty Murphy and Tom Nasshan at 11-under-par.
Third place went to the quartet of Ron Feiereisel, "Bro" Bernauer, Larry Fee and Brian Begrowicz at nine-under.