A Luther College alumna who was a member of the first women's cross country team and her husband have provided a gift of $1 million to establish the Kent Finanger Endowed Chair for Women's Cross Country and Track and Field. The alumna shared the reason surrounding the couple's decision to create the Finanger Chair, "As a student and runner, I thrived under Coach Kent's leadership. The immense respect I have for him and his nurturing abilities have unequivocally impacted my life."
This is the first endowed coaching position in the history of the college. It was the donor's wish to make this announcement on Coach Kent's 85th birthday, Oct. 25.
Finanger had the following remarks about the alumna donor, "What she and her husband have chosen to do humbles me. I am awed that the way you go about coaching, inspiring and motivating an individual would one day lead to an honor such as this. I'm so thankful for their generous gift and what it will do for Luther College and the growth and development of our women's cross country and track and field programs."
Finanger coached multiple sports at Luther from 1956-96 and was instrumental in developing the women's cross country team. He coached Luther's women's cross country team from the first official season in 1976 through the fall season of 1978.
Luther College President Paula J. Carlson is excited for the opportunities stemming from the establishment of the Finanger Chair. "This gift is very special in that it honors a great person in Coach Kent, and it creates opportunities and enhancements to both the women's cross country and track and field programs that wouldn't necessarily otherwise happen. Our thanks go back to our alumni for investing in their second home."
Steve Pasche, head cross country coach, and Yarrow Pasche, associate head coach for women's cross country, shared that the Finanger Chair will create opportunities within women's cross country and track and field that will elevate and distinguish the programs among Division III institutions. "Honoring legendary Coach Kent Finanger with this astounding gift gives immense strength to the women's cross country and track and field programs at Luther College. I imagine in the eyes of the donor, the gift seeks to perpetuate and expand on the life changing positive impact of support, challenge and inspiration that she felt from Coach Kent. We look forward to continuing to build on the strong tradition of running here at Luther College and to the fantastic opportunities this gift will inspire for generations to come," said Y. Pasche.
The Finanger Chair builds upon the college's proud tradition of cross country and track and field at the college. Luther Director of Athletics Renae Hartl says the gift ensures the programs will have the resources to be among the premier programs in the country, "At a private Division III institution like ours, every gift is so important to the college, especially in athletics. This extraordinary gift is truly transformational for the coaching staff and current and future student-athletes in the cross country and track and field programs," said Hartl.
With 19 intercollegiate teams, Luther is committed to providing an environment that encourages high levels of athletic performance and enables individuals and teams to challenge for conference, regional and national championships.