Alumni, neighbors work to preserve Concordia’s history

As the pieces of the 1963 gym floor were being pulled up, Concordia graduate Phil Amt began to think of all of the memories — the games won and lost, the rifles spun and the rifles dropped, and the Concordia pride shared through generations of Cadets.

From there, the plan began.

Amt pulled together two of his neighbors, Ed Reitenour and Tim Rupley (both of whom had no prior connection to Concordia); Tom Steinhauser, a friend from his same graduating class in 1964; and Steve Schnorr, a 1974 Concordia graduate and a friend of Eugene Parker, of whom the gym floor is named. Together, they began the hard work of cutting, sanding, and grinding the pieces of the original floor to share with others who spent so much time on the gym floor over the years. The pieces will be for sale starting at Homecoming. 

“As I did this, I thought, ‘Did I run on this part of the floor? Or take a shot from this spot?’” Schnorr said. “It’s a labor of love.”

“It’s nostalgia and brings back fond memories of high school,” Steinhauser said.

After 59 years, the gym floor in Concordia’s “Cage” was replaced this summer through the generous support of donors, many of whom were close to Eugene Parker.

“(Eugene) meant a lot to me. We were close friends. He was a star basketball player, but more importantly, he was a personal friend and a great colleague,” Schnorr said. “I was so excited that the floor was being named after my good friend.”

“This floor had a lot of memories for us, and I know it had a lot of memories for the alumni that came after us,” Amt added. “A lot of blood sweat and tears went into this place, and we’re very proud of it, and I thought maybe others would want a piece of that history, as well.”

Amt and his team cut down the planks of the original floor, and those are now available for sale to support the continued renovation of the gymnasium.

“I hope that (our Concordia family) values it, and I hope they reflect on it,” Amt said. “I have a piece of history.”

For Amt, Steinhauser, and so many other alumni from that time, the installation of the 1963 gym floor meant that the Cadets could finally have true home matches. Their fans could watch them on their own court and cheer them on to victory from their own stands.

“We never had a gym before,” Steinhauser said. “Our home courts were Bishop Luers and North Side and the Seminary. To have a court that was yours was really neat.”

So, cut after cut, they kept memories alive. Saw blade after new saw blade, they brought back nostalgia. And with every nail that was pulled and every edge softened, they preserved another moment of Concordia’s history.

“I looked at the gym floor, cutting each piece, thinking there are so many lives that touched that floor, particularly how it relates to our weekly worship at Concordia. Not only all the sporting events that occurred, but the concerts, the gym classes, the graduation ceremonies … I’m hoping the alumni would feel the sentimental value and memories and would want a piece of that history in their homes,” Schnorr said. “I hope that our alumni step up and want a piece of this history and help us fund the next piece of Concordia’s history.”

If you’re interested in purchasing a piece of the 1963 gym floor, please contact Greg Rehberg, Director of Alumni and Donor Relations, at [email protected].