A new gallery of photographs of Tusculum College All-American athletes graces the lobby of the Pioneer Arena, honoring not only the pictured athletes but also the memory of the late Andrew “Andy” Kmetz, a 1935 TC graduate who was a noted athlete.
Family members of Kmetz, who died in 2005, funded the display through a gift to the college, and have since made another gift for its upkeep. Included are photographs of most of Tusculum College’s 39 All-Americans. Other photographs will be added as future All-Americans are named and as photos of not-yet-pictured past All-Americans are located.
Giving brief comments at the recent dedication ceremony for the display were Susan Vance ‘91, director of development and alumni relations at Tusculum College; President Dr. Dolphus E. Henry, Director of Athletics Ed Hoffmeyer, and Tusculum College baseball All-American Greg Stotser.
With the Nov. 11 football game between Tusculum College and rival Carson-Newman College looming ahead, Dr. Henry noted that Kmetz is remembered at Tusculum College for kicking the winning field goal in the 1934 Tusculum College victory over Carson-Newman, a 3-0 game.
All the speakers from Tusculum College deeply thanked the Kmetz family for the new exhibit. Vance praised the Kmetz family for finding an appropriate way to honor Andy Kmetz, and Hoffmeyer and Stotser spoke of the honor of achieving All-American status, an honor now heightened further through the Kmetz family’s generosity.
Glen Black of the TC Pioneer football team gave the prayer of dedication.
Speaking on behalf of the Kmetz family was Andrea Kmetz Payne, daughter of Andrew Kmetz, who reminisced about her father, one of nine children in an immigrant family. Kmetz, she said, did not graduate from high school until age 21 because he so frequently had to drop out of school to work to help support his family.
Kmetz was coached in track in high school by a Tusculum College alumnus, Art Argauer, who also introduced Kmetz to his future wife when he arranged for Ida Krug to become Kmetz’s tutor in French.
Payne described her father’s college experience as one that was rewarding to him, but also difficult because of financial challenges. She recalled his stories of pushing his old Model T Ford up East Tennessee hills because it lacked power to climb them, then coasting down the far side of the hill to save gas.
Kmetz went on to a career in education and coaching, and in 1982 was inducted into the Tusculum College Sports Hall of Fame as well as a similar sports hall of fame at his old high school in New Jersey.
Andrew Kmetz last visited Tusculum College in 1997, she said, when he attended a class reunion.
Also speaking was another Kmetz daughter, Alice Kmetz D’Ambrosio, who recalled her father as a friendly man who “always remembered a face, but never a name,” and who would “talk to anyone.” She noted how deeply her father loved Tusculum College and treasured his experiences there.
Al Taynai, a member of the TC class of 1962 and a godson and nephew of Kmetz, also spoke briefly of Kmetz and his love for Tusculum College.
The gallery dedicated to Kmetz is named “Tusculum College’s All-Americans, in memory of Andrew Kmetz, ‘35.” It is free of charge and open for public view at all times that the lobby of Pioneer Arena is open.
Five of the TC All-Americans pictured in the display were present at the dedication. They were Susan Starnes Farris ‘97, Carla Lloyd Weems ‘93, Felix Perez ‘05, Vivian Christopher ‘93 ‘03 and Greg Stotser ‘07.