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University of Dubuque Holds UD Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony

By University Relations Staff

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque inducted the 2023 Athletic Hall of Fame Class and bestowed three additional prestigious awards during the UD Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony on Saturday, September 9, 2023, in John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center. Honorees were also recognized at halftime of the football game against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

The 2023 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees are Amber (Meyer) DeSousa (C'14), softball; John E. Dierks (C'63), track and field, posthumously; Davivorn Dowe (C'12), track and field; Alexandra (Watkins) Zurbuchen (C'14, MBA'17), women's soccer; and the 2011 football team.

Three additional awards were distributed during the ceremony. Dan W. Runkle received the Athletic Hall of Distinction Award, Trent Merzon (C'92) received the Jerry Petitgoue Coach Award, and Thaddeus A. Foucher (C'78) received the Solomon Butler Character and Courage Award.

Since 1989, the UD Athletic Hall of Fame has honored former student-athletes, coaches, and supporters for their outstanding contributions to the University of Dubuque's athletic programs.

Amber (Meyer) DeSousa (C'14) - Softball

Amber (Meyer) DeSousa graduated from the University of Dubuque in 2014 with a degree in physical education teaching K-12. DeSousa participated on the softball team during her college career, and she earned First Team All-Conference and All-Region honors.

After graduating from UD, DeSousa moved to Cascade, Iowa, and became the physical education and health teacher at Cascade High School. Wanting to stay involved with athletics, she coached softball for six years and then became the assistant volleyball coach as well as the track and field coach at Cascade High School.

DeSousa and her husband, Eric, currently reside in Cascade, Iowa, with their two children, Masyn and Laine.

By the Numbers:

  • 2x 1st Team All-Conference
  • All-Region
  • 1x Player of the Week
  • Career Ranks:
    • Hits - 1st (146)
    • Runs - 1st (96)
    • Total Bases - 1st (223)
    • Walks - 1st (67)
    • Home Runs - 2nd (12)
    • At Bats - 2nd (434)
    • Games Played - 2nd (147)
    • OBP - 4th (.424)
    • RBI - 4th (72)
    • Triples - 4th (6)

John E. Dierks (C'63) - Track and Field - posthumously

John E. Dierks graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1963 with a degree in economics. He participated on the track and field team during his college career, earning the title of Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pole-Vault Champion in 1958 and 1959. He cleared 11'10" in 1958, breaking the school record. He was also a member of the 1959 Iowa Conference Championship Team.

After graduating from UD and completing his service in the US Army, Dierks moved to Los Angeles, California. During his business career, he was at the helm of 11 companies, including co-founding Roger-Dierks, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of replacement jet engine blades for many global airlines. He also co-founded KREC 98.1, a radio station in southern Utah.

Throughout his life, Dierks stayed very active and proudly achieved over 8.1 million vertical feet in helicopter skiing, was a US Auto Club-licensed RS Champ driver and a certified yacht captain, competed in tennis tournaments throughout Europe, and was a golf enthusiast.

Dierks was blessed with two children, Denay (Dierks) Vogel and Dean Dierks, and was married to his loving spouse, Amaryllis Dierks, for over 20 years. Dierks passed away on October 25, 2014.

By the Numbers:

  • 2x IIAC Champion
  • 11'10" Jump in 1958
  • 11'9" Jump in 1959

Davivorn Dowe (C'12) - Track and Field

Davivorn Dowe graduated from the University of Dubuque in 2012 with a degree in health, wellness, and recreation. Dowe found success as a member of the track and field team. During his college career, he earned multiple All-American and All-Conference honors as well as several Conference Champion titles. He currently holds the school record for the outdoor 100m dash with a time of 10.41 seconds.

After graduating from UD, Dowe worked at Hills and Dales in Dubuque, helping autistic adults. After working there for seven years, he joined the United States Military. He is currently retired.

Dowe and his daughter currently reside in Haines City, Florida.

By the Numbers:

  • 5x All-American (Indoor 55m Dash - 5th place, 2010; Indoor 60m Dash - 8th place, 2012; Outdoor 100m Dash - 8th, 2010; Outdoor 200m Dash - 8th, 2010; Outdoor 100m Dash - 6th, 2012)
  • 9x Iowa Conference Champion (5-Indoor / 4-Outdoor)
  • 15x All-Iowa Conference
  • School Record: Outdoor 100m Dash (10.41 seconds)
  • Ranked Top-5 in:
    • Outdoor 200m Dash - 5th (21.33)
    • Indoor 55m Dash - 4th (6.39)
    • Indoor 60m Dash - 3rd (6.91)
    • Indoor 400m Dash - 5th (49.87)

Alexandra (Watkins) Zurbuchen (C'14, MBA'17) - Women's Soccer

Alexandra (Watkins) Zurbuchen graduated from the University of Dubuque in 2014 with a degree in communication. She then earned her master's degree from UD in business administration in 2017. Zurbuchen was a member of the women's soccer team from 2010 to 2013, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors. She also received IIAC Female Athlete of the Week recognition and five-time Conference Performer of the Week during her college career. In 2014, Zurbuchen was named UD Female Athlete of the Year.

After college, Zurbuchen became the senior program specialist at American College of Chest Physicians in Glenview, Illinois.

Zurbuchen and her husband, Ryan, have a baby boy, Dominic.

By the Numbers:

  • 4x All-Conference (3x-1st Team, 1x-2nd Team)
  • 1x IIAC Female Athlete of the Week
  • All-Region
  • 5x IIAC Performer of the Week
  • Career Ranks:
    • Goals - 4th (45)
    • Assists - 6th (20)
    • Points - 4th (110)
    • Game Winners - 3rd (12)
    • Games Started - 7th (75)
    • Games Played - 10th (78)
    • Shots - 4th (241)
    • Shots on Goal - 3rd (120)

2011 Football Team

The 2011 Football Team earned the title of Iowa Intercollegiate Conference Champions in 2011. This was the program's first Conference title since 1980, with a 9-2 overall record and a 7-1 IIAC record. This team holds several school records, has multiple All-Americans, the IIAC Most Valuable Player, and the IIAC Coach of the Year. This team also features the 2011 Gagliardi Trophy winner.

School Records:

  • Wins: 9
  • Points: 457
  • 1st Downs: 276
  • Total Offense: 5,389
  • Passing Yards: 3,562

Head Coach: Stan Zweifel
Coaching Staff: Ryan Adamovich, Taylor Herbst, Jon Kyte, Michael Mandot, Michael Miyamoto, Drew Nystrom, Jacob Olsen, John Osweiler, Michael Schmidt, Tyler Simmons, Eugene Will, and Travis Zajac
Captains: Wyatt Hanus, Trevor Runkle, Justin Spaulding, Stephen Vassalotti, and Michael Zweifel
Trainer: Andy Accacian

Dan W. Runkle

Dan W. Runkle joined the University of Dubuque as the director of athletics in 2002. Under his leadership, the University of Dubuque earned eight Conference Tournament Championships and six Conference Championships.

During his tenure, student-athletes were, and continue to be, impacted by the continued growth of the athletic programs and facilities. Every athletic facility saw updates and state-of-the-art improvements to offer student-athletes the ability to be competitive on a national level. Honoring Runkle's contributions to UD Athletics, the baseball field was renamed and dedicated in October 2017 as the Dan W. Runkle Baseball Field.

Since retiring as the athletic director in 2022, Runkle has continued to serve the University of Dubuque as the assistant to the president for athletic special projects.

Runkle is a member of the Hall of Fame at Illinois College, North Central Conference, and Minnesota State University-Mankato. Additionally, he was part of five team Hall of Fame honors: at University of South Dakota (assistant coach - 1972, 73, 74), Northern Arizona University (assistant coach - 1978), and Minnesota State (head coach - 1987).

Runkle and his wife, Debra, currently reside in Dubuque, Iowa.

Trent Merzon (C'92)

Trent Merzon graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1992 with a degree in physical education and health. Merzon was a two-sport athlete, participating in football and baseball, and he served as the football team captain his senior year.

Merzon served as the varsity head coach of the Oakdale High School Football Team in Oakdale, California, for 23 years. He earned 13 Valley Oak League Championships, four Section Championships, two Northern California Championships, and one State Championship. He was awarded 14 Valley Oak League Coach of the Year Awards and two Sac Joaquin Section Coach of the Year Awards. He also garnered a Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year in 2016.

Over the years, Merzon poured into the lives of many student-athletes, emphasizing the strengthening of the body, mind, and spirit. In addition, he actively served the community in other roles, including helping raise over $2 million to help provide a new track and playing surface for Oakdale High School. He also served as an assistant coach for Oakdale's Section Championship softball team in 2019, ranked No. 1 in the state. He bookended his career as head coach for the Central California Lions' All-Star football game in 2001 and 2023, both times garnering a victory.

In January 2023, Merzon retired from coaching with a 225-59-1 record, averaging 10 wins a year. Most recently, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce.

Merzon resides in Oakdale, California, with his wife, Spring. Together they have two children, Mickey, who is currently playing football at the College of Idaho, and Morgan, who is currently a junior at Oakdale High School.

Thaddeus A. Foucher (C'78)

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Thaddeus A. Foucher attended St. Peter Claver Elementary School. He continued to St. Augustine High School where he lettered three years as a varsity baseball and basketball player.

Foucher graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1978 with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and sociology. During his time at UD, Foucher played basketball and baseball.

From 1990 to 1998, Foucher was head coach of the New Orleans Jazz Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team where he won four major titles and coached a number of players who went on to NBA careers. He also served as a consultant to Adidas and helped develop the AAU grass roots program that still exists successfully today. During his tenure as an AAU coach, Foucher dedicated himself to serving as the director of the New Orleans Jazz AAU basketball team where he helped many young men attain their goals by getting college scholarships. Helping kids realize their dreams through basketball has been more rewarding than any of his professional successes. In addition, he helped provide the opportunity for young men to continue their education through after school college prep classes and ACT and SAT student programs.

Currently, Foucher is the executive vice president and managing executive of basketball, team sports at Wasserman, where he is responsible for recruiting and negotiating contracts. He serves as the agent for numerous athletes including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, De'Andre Hunter, Evan Mobley, Mitchell Robinson, and, most recently, the 2023 NBA draft's 15th, 16th, and 28th picks. In addition to negotiating contracts for the aforementioned athletes, Foucher is also responsible for the direction of the entire basketball division.

Over the span of his professional career in the field of basketball, he has negotiated over $1.5 billion in basketball salaries and marketing contracts. His career highlight was to be part of Wasserman's basketball agency that has signed more first round draft picks in the history of the NBA draft. In addition, he negotiated the largest basketball contract in NBA history for Russell Westbrook.

Prior to joining Wasserman, Foucher served as the executive vice president of business development and co-founder of OMERO Distribution Technologies, an industrial coatings company. He has also held several sales positions throughout his career at leading corporations including Xerox, The Associates Financial Services, and Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals.