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Courtesy | Cal Abbo

Hillsdale’s sports scene saw a revamp in the spring of 1967 with an increase in action activ­ities according to the April 27, 1967 issue of The Col­legian. 

Sky­diving, flying, judo, and karate led this trend. 

Col­legian reporter Parke Hayes wrote, “Sky­diving appears to be catching on tremen­dously. Steve Ver­banac, who made the wire ser­vices with his jump into the middle of a football practice session last fall, has ‘dozens’ of fellows inter­ested.” 

This quote reveals a wild turn of events that leaves so much unan­swered. Was the jump into football practice announced prior to the event, or did he lit­erally just fly out of the sky and plunge toward the field at a stu­pendous speed? Were any football players injured in the descent? 

Unlike sky­diver Ver­banac, these inquiries were left up in the air, and Hayes moved on from sky­diving to discuss avi­ation at Hillsdale. 

He wrote, “Another group of guys is also serving as instructors, while con­tinuing their interest in flying. Dean Cut­shall, Ken Ward and Guy Peterson are three names that come to mind. Peterson nat­u­rally draws the most attention when he buckles up his 1941 bi-plane.” 

It is unclear whether or not all three college stu­dents owned planes, or how they acquired the means to fly. 

Hayes also reported that “Karate and judo are being pop­u­larized by Tom Ditzler and Ray Irvin. Regular classes have been held once or twice a week on the Japanese-born sports.” 

One does love to see the birth of the one credit “sports studies” classes. Gen­er­a­tions of GPAs are forever indebted to Ditzler and Irvin. 

This, however, was not Hillsdale’s first taste of action-filled adventure. 

On Nov. 12, 1964, Col­legian sports reporter Steve Fairchild wrote, “Another member joined the Mar­shall Sky­diving Club from Hillsdale last Sunday. Patti Pace was imme­di­ately accepted after tum­bling out of an air­plane from 3,000 feet and living.” 

I like that they threw in the “living” stip­u­lation at the end, pre­tending that people were gen­uinely on the edge of their seat to see if Patti Pace would make it through this jump. Pro tip from an amateur jour­nalist: the audience knows if some­thing stunning hap­pened, it will be in the headline. 

The action sports con­tinued to be popular in the fol­lowing semesters as well. 

On Nov. 6, 1967, The Col­legian reported, “A Karate Club, one of the newest orga­ni­za­tions on campus, has been started by James Chang, a native of Hong Kong.” 

The article con­tinued, “Jim’s reason for starting the club was ‘because not too many foreign people know this art, and I want to introduce it to them.’”

At the time the article was pub­lished, the club had over 20 members and con­tinued to grow in pop­u­larity the fol­lowing year. 

On Feb. 22, 1968 The Col­legian reported that the club “gave a demon­stration at the First Methodist Church in Hillsdale. In the future, it is hoped that the members might be able to compete with various other college and city karate and judo clubs.”

I won’t lie: when I think of karate demon­stra­tions, I don’t imme­di­ately picture it taking place in a church, but any pub­licity is good pub­licity I guess. 

The rise of new sports on Hillsdale’s campus was a great trend that offered new activ­ities for stu­dents. At the very least, I think we should bring sky­diving back. Catch me para­chuting down onto the football field this year.