2012 Alumni Weekend: A Brief Recap and a Few Pics

Alumni and Varsity

Recap: Alumni vs Varsity: 4-3 - Alumni goals by Ben Chavez (2) and Johnny Melcher (2) - Varsity goals by Garrett Getschow (2) and Alex Frazier (1)

Color Cup: Silver Silver Boot: Johnny Melcher Bloody Guard: Jason Belvill Powder Blue: Jared Gomez

Another great weekend this year. Highlights of the weekend included an emotional Pat McKenna, Cast Away Dan Walsh, Dan Walsh as Brandi Chastain, Titanic star Kate (I mean) Jason Belvill, Friend and G Walsh in the Women's restroom, and Jamie Burgener. Of course the weekend began with the traditional kick around at the Bird's Nest. The seniors delivered the beer (although Bud Light and Coors were the highlights) and it started at 1500 sharp. Doug Hill is running a tight ship these days. Several of the Alums were missing in action as they were still refining their strokes for the golf scramble on Sunday. Nonetheless, the Alums that showed were reminded of the lack of oxygen at 7,258 feet. After the kick around, everyone met up at the Colorado Mountain Brewery for the start of the evening. A shout out to the folks over at the CMB for putting up with about 110 alums instead of 50 that the reservation was made for (talk to DDub about this one). I do believe that we occupied the entire bar most of the evening. Somehow everyone managed to escape even with the shenanigans of Burgener. The stories for remainder of the evening shall go unpublished.

The next morning, the typical meeting started sharply at the unscheduled time of 1130ish. Not to fear though, the alumni fielded a strong team guided by the Guatemalan wisdom of Coach Lou Sagastume. Warm-up was an interesting mix of hangovers and hairstyles and some interesting stretching. Kick off began at the height of the day and the Varsity looked on form. The Alumni on the field were getting into the flow while the Alumni bench was in excellent form hugging the touchline with constant banter. Less than 15 min in, the Varsity found themselves up a goal scored by Garret Getschow. Hill promptly delivered the AED to the Sagastume bench...challenge extended. Fortunately, the Alumni answered several minutes later with a fantastic finish by Ben Chavez ('12). We're all still wondering how this new Alum even made it to the game, but the Alumni were celebrating. AED delivered back to the Varsity...challenge accepted. At this point I don't remember the order events but they can be summed up with another goal from the Varsity's Getschow, I believe a missed Varsity PK, and a fantastic goal from the young Johnny Melcher ('12). I think this brought us to halftime where a Miss Lexie Friend had a birthday and Referee Clark was honored by Brandi Chastain (a.k.a. Danny Walsh). Yes, he really did that. Go ahead and stare at that picture again. Wow.


The second half brought more fine play by both the Varsity and the Alumni. Jared Gomez had an unfortunate unathletic and unmarked stumbling shot that might have made it close to the Varsity goal (I'm trying to be nice here) which he probably regrets now. Alex Frazier of the Varsity put them up for a few moments. But then, Melcher captured the prized silver boot with a cracker of a free kick from 25 out hitting the V. I'm sure the fake attempt by Kip Kiefer threw everyone off (including the Alumni sideline and one Varsity wall member). Throughout the game the Alumni defense was pretty solid with rock solid goalkeeping in the back. Much of the hard defense can be single-handedly accredited to Jason Belvill with stunning and unorthodox tackles (thanks for not injuring the Varsity). Chavez scored another late goal to seal the win for the Alumni. Final score through all my rambling was 4-3 Alumni. The Varsity played well and the Alumni were impressed with their play. The fellas should do well this coming year.

Now, onto the real games. The Color Cup saw a Blue vs Yellow and a Red vs Gray semi-final. I don't know many of the details of these games although I heard the Blue-Yellow match was a nail-biter with a Blue goal coming very, very late to put them through to the Finals. The Red-Gray match was also close with Gray scoring two questionably offsides goals and Red battle back to tie the match and send it to kicks. Unfortunately, Gray was able to move into the Finals after 7 or 8 kicks from the mark. Unfortunate. The final was a top-notch battle with few chances and solid defense. Then, late in the second, Ben Mackey took a wonderful dive (this, of course, is debatable) and Gray netted the winner. Congrats to Silver for their first Cup in a long while.

Official Saturday events ended with a recap of the day's events and a tribute to Pat McKenna. I'll post the video on youtube one of these days. If you can't find it, then you'll just have to make it to the next weekend and I'm sure G Walsh or Pat has a copy lying around. The Color Cup was awarded to Silver. Johnny Melcher was awarded the Silver Boot. Jason Belvill took home the Bloody Guard. And, Jared Gomez donned the legendary Powder Blue. The stories of the rest of the evening shall again remain unpublished.

Sunday saw the Annual Golf Scramble and Ball Toss. I'm going to let the pictures tell the story here, as I'm tired of writing... Overall, great weekend. If you missed it this year plan to be there in 2013. We're looking at the Fall Alumni Weekend to be in Sept/Oct and we'll get that out as soon as we know.

A few pics are below and the rest of the pics are on our Flickr site: AW2012. Download whatever you'd like (here's a video how to download from flickr). A special thanks to John and Marie Welliver to taking most of the shots!

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2012 Alumni Weekend Schedule

Friday – 27 April1500: Kick around at the Bird's Nest...Seniors will bring refreshments! 1830 'til Ole leaves 0030?: Drinks and Dinner at Colorado Mountain Brewery = Get Directions Here or take I-25 to Interquest (for the old, guys 1/2 way between the north and south gate of the Academy East of I-25 and you can take the visual approach with the nice weather we will have if you are of the pilot type). 2230: Men’s soccer team back to the AFA dorms (sorry Burgs no more designated frosh drivers)...Ole said he would give you a ride or Buck?

Saturday - 28 April 0900: Breakfast with Motrin on your own (although you would think the training room could sponsor this) 1045: Alumni Meeting in press box 1130: Alum warms up in white jersey 1200: KICK OFF Alumni (searching for that silver boot winner but don’t get the powder blue) Get your line up from Coach Lou Sagastume -- help him out and remind him the year you graduated so he knows how much time to give you Varsity will be in blue ready to go! 1400: Color Cup 1500: Cup Finals 1615ish: LAWERENCE PAUL FOR BBQ AND ALUMNI AWARDS (On Campus - West of the chapel)

Sunday - 29 April 0800: Golf (Eisenhower for golf on Blue Course) – 10 tee times and will have the traditional tee off with hecklers allowed on tee # 1 (KORPACK PROMISED HE WOULD DRIVE THE GREEN WITH THE SOCCER COLARED GOLF BALL or buy the first round…make sure you show for this big hit!

2011 Fall Alumni Itinerary

The Soccer game vs Denver is at 6 PM FRIDAY, NOV 4th. The game was originally planned for Saturday.  We will start the tailgate at 5pm at the soccer stadium!  We just came off beating #22 on Sunday, looking good!! For those going to the AF Football game, or just want to tailgate, the kickoff is at 1:30 MST. We will be shooting for Lot #2, look for the Colorado Flag on my Black Jeep Wrangler.

Some food and drinks will be provided at both.  (Burgers, Dogs, Chips, Salad, Drank (Water, Others). Looks like Sat might be chilly, so maybe a camelbak with hot chocolate might be a legit idea.  We don't currently have a surplus of funds, so donations would be appreciated.

As for activities on Sat night, we will see how many alumni we have this weekend and come up with something if appropriate, and if the weather is good on Sunday, we have 5 tee times starting around 11am.  If you plan on golfing, please speak to either myself or Brandon Jones on Fri/Sat.

If you need anything else, phone number is below.  Looking forward to

Dan Walsh 702-544-0234

John Blaha

I like what T.S. Elliot wrote.  “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”  I use a metaphor, very complex, when translating for my kids. If you don’t take the shot, you’ll never score. It’s, of course, a goal thing. We’re soccer players, we like goals. As kids, then cadets, many of us BIRDS probably had goals of playing pro soccer, designing the next great invention or flying cool jets . After graduation, a few of us got paid to play. Some of us stayed planted on terra firma, enjoying the rigors of a varied and challenging military career. Others ventured skyward, slipping surlies and traveling the planet. One of us, a fellow soccer alum, took good aim and achieved goals that took him places only a handful are lucky enough to visit. John Blaha (’65) was an Air Force man’s son. He grew up all over, but calls San Antonio home. Way late by today’s standards, his first soccer experience occurred on the playground of his high school junior year in Wiesbaden, Germany. Where else?! He was your typical cadet in training. Good grades, good athlete, good kid. He entered the class of ’65 with three other defensively minded teens, Rodman, Gritsavage, and Udicello. The four of them would form a unit, reminiscent for me of the ’77 line of Olson, Twohig, Wynn (‘78ers) and Weiland (’79). Blaha and buds were nicknamed the “Backfield 4,” punishing opponents their senior season. Although the stats for that year are floating somewhere in the archival heavens, recollection has it the Backfield 4 might be just behind the ’77 boys in least goals allowed in a season.

John enjoyed his academy years. Majoring in engineering, he also tried his hand, both hands, at baseball and gymnastics. He dreamed of flying fighters right after graduating, but held off to pursue a masters in Astro at Purdue. Willie (you young guys will have to Google that) in Phoenix followed, where he met his life mate Brenda, mother to their three children. Then came the F-4, A-37, F-102, F-106, F-104, 361 missions of which were in Vietnam. Just four years removed from the battles on the USAFA pitch, while in the 3rd TFW at Bien Hoa, he created a soccer team to play against the local Vietnamese. The friendly match between field enemies was in stark contrast to the real battle waging beyond the base fence.

Next was test pilot at Edwards, test pilot with the RAF and, finally, in 1980, he joined the ranks of which only 335 Americans have done to date, United States Astronaut. He would fly 5 space missions, two as commander, two as pilot, one as a scientist, in all, logging 161 days in space. He flew with cosmonauts in 1996/1997 to spend 4 months in the Mir space station. Afterward, his physical state was much like that following a loss and the subsequent Coach Carmen Anillo rehabilitation practice. Well, maybe just a bit worse. Took him six weeks to feel normal again, six months for a full recovery. In 1995, he was elected into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame,. At the induction, NASA said he and fellow inductees, “helped stretch the boundaries of the space shuttle fleet's capabilities.” That, of course, should have been more than enough, but when he returned to his “home” town of San Antonio, he joined the executive management group at USAA.

John attributes his successes to setting achievable short term goals while always working to reach the long term ones. For those of us still on the ascent, he offers maybe a cliché, but his success is it’s testament, “you only live life once, so go for it.”  To punctuate, he adds, don’t ever forget, “you are working for America.” From humble beginnings, past the hallowed ramp and green athletic fields, out of this world, John Blaha has certainly gone for it. Yes, our fellow BIRD shot for the upper 90’s and truly found how far he could go.

Read a couple of John's accounts from two missions... Space and People Mir 22 Space Mission

Read more about John's remarkable career... Biographical Data Pulling It Together