‘I don’t care if you wear rubber boots’

Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor

I grew up in an Augsburg household. Three generations of Auggies can be found at the average Evans family holiday gathering. My parents met in an Urban Studies class and got married in the Hoversten chapel. Names like Sabo, Pike and Hesser, the last of whom officated my parents’ wedding, formed a pantheon that was the basis for many of my childhood lessons. 

More so than any other figure, former men’s hockey coach Ed Saugestad was immortalized by my father John, a 1982 graduate and men’s hockey player. Saugestad, the first coach in Augsburg men’s hockey history, coached for 37 years and won three national championships, two with my father on the roster. As a testament to his legend, the MIAC men’s hockey championship trophy is named in his honor.

Plenty of Saugestad’s colorful sayings and stories populated my years running around the Victory neighborhood of North Minneapolis, but one has stood the test of time.

“I don’t care if you wear rubber boots. If you can put the puck in the net, you’re on my team”

That sentiment followed me in everything I did from academics to athletics. It was an expectation that you were to never assume a person couldn’t contribute to a team, that to cast away individuals because their talents were not easily observable was a reflection of poor leadership. Good leaders, my dad would emphasize, work to find someone a role, develop their talents and always make a place for them on the team.

Setting foot on campus for the first time in September of 2015, my goals were very different than they are, now that I’m about to leave. After two years spent playing hockey in Norway and northwest Montana, I had hoped to find a place in the hockey program my dad had made so legendary. That did not pan out; by the fourth week of school, I had been told I would not be playing for the Auggies. 

Not to be a part of the Augsburg men’s hockey program was devastating, despite the fact that it was the right decision. I was too small, too slow and not nearly skilled enough to play on the team. In addition, I was not and will never be the type of person that populates that roster. Nevertheless, I found myself on campus having lost the only real direction I had coming into school. Even if the feeling was unfounded, I felt I had let my family, especially my dad, down and began to wonder if Augsburg was the long-term place for me.

Enter Ryan Moore and Gabe Benson, two people I met freshman year who have become lifelong friends. I knew Ryan was involved with the school paper, and with the support of Gabe’s amazing editing skills, I started writing for the sports section. “The Echo” staff worked with me from the very first meeting, and, from day one, I felt like a valued member of the team. That experience opened the door to so many wonderful people that make up this campus, and I slowly began getting a feel for the complex ecosystem that is Augsburg University.

My story is hardly unique in that regard. For over 100 years, “The Echo” and the students who work for it have attempted to capture the story of Augsburg. In many ways, the topics we’ve covered at Augsburg can serve as a microcosm for narratives playing out across the country.

Our rapidly diversifying student body reflects American population changes, and with those changes comes a long overdue reckoning with our past. The evolving role of faith in the lives of young people at a religiously affiliated university reflects how our generation finds moral guidance and community in very different ways than our elders. Those are massive arcs that play out across these 17 square blocks of Cedar Riverside.

Ultimately, I know the future for “The Echo” is bright because it will continue to be led by Augsburg students and to write about Augsburg students. We are able to succeed because Auggies feel a higher calling to act and to fight for what is right. As a result, “The Echo” allowed me to intersect with so many incredible people fighting in their own way for a better world.

Not being able to play hockey for Augsburg in front of my dad will always be a regret of mine. But I realize now that all the things I’ve done would have been impossible had that been part of my time here. As a result of getting cut, I got a storyline far more complex and unique than I could’ve ever hoped, one that will add to the Evans family canon at Augsburg, all thanks to a weird little school newspaper.

Final words of thanks to all who have written and edited for “The Echo.” To Jenny Hanson, the only advisor I know who would help write an article at 4 a.m. To Boyd Kahler and Cass Dalglish, the indomitable mountains of journalism on our campus whose advice we could not survive without. Perhaps most of all, to the Echo office, which served as the rare venue of rigorous work and invaluable friendship for me and so many others.

It is my greatest hope that “The Echo” will continue to tell your story, find your value and make your voice heard.

That’s what it did for me, rubber boots and all.

This article was originally published in the April 26, 2019 issue. 

Photo of Kristian Evans as a child.