Marquette Wire

National Marquette Day gatherings take place in Hawaii, Alaska

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Marquette alums and their families reunite in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Roberts.)

Marquette alums and their families reunite in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Roberts.)

Marquette alums and their families reunite in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Roberts.)

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There were 59 registered National Marquette Day viewing parties, many of which were in the Midwest. Other locations, like Flagstaff, Nashville and Washington D.C., were a little more far-flung.

None were quite so far-flung as the gathering at Restaurant 604 in Honolulu, Hawaii, just across the bridge from the Pearl Harbor Memorial. That’s where Kurtis Kaun gathered with about a half-dozen other alumni at 9:30 a.m. local time to watch the Golden Eagles take on Providence.

“Typically, on a National Marquette Day, there’s anywhere between five to seven Marquette people and then their spouses and families,” Kaun said.

Roughly 2,800 miles to the north, Ryan Roberts was participating in a similar gathering at the Peanut Farm, a roadside bar in Anchorage, Alaska.

“We’ve been doing it now for five or six years,” Roberts said. “Andrew Sundboom (a fellow Marquette alum) contacted me through the alumni network. He was looking for people to watch basketball with, and I was looking for people in town too … We kind of built it from there.”

Honolulu and Anchorage were the furthest locations away from Milwaukee in the United States to host National Marquette Day gatherings. Alumni at these events live in places where most people haven’t even heard of the university, much less root for the Golden Eagles.

“A lot of people think it’s in Michigan,” Kelli Kaneshiro, who came to Marquette from Hawaii and graduated in 2002, said. “I think a lot of old-timers know from when we last won the national championship.”

Kaun came from a much closer location – Menomonie, Wisconsin – and graduated from the College of Engineering in 2002 along with Kaneshiro. He ended up in Hawaii through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, which placed him in Pearl Harbor immediately after graduation.

Almost all of the Marquette graduates in Hawaii follow a path similar to Kaun’s. “There’s quite a few military people that come through,” Kaun said. “They’ll come to two or three years of National Marquette Day events and then get transferred somewhere else.”

Roberts, like Kaneshiro, found Marquette despite not living in the continental United States by way of a local college fair. He estimated there were roughly a half-dozen other Anchorage residents that went with him. Roughly five years after Roberts graduated, Alaska native Derrick Wilson joined the Marquette basketball team.

Now a different basketball player joins Roberts’ National Marquette Day watch party — Gary “The Goose” Brell, who played under head coach Al McGuire from 1969 to 1971 and moved from Milwaukee to Alaska.

“The guy is just hilarious,” Roberts said. “He’s super connected to the university still and got all this inside information about what’s going on. It’s pretty cool to talk to him.”

One odd part about watching Marquette basketball away from the mainland is the start times. Anchorage runs three hours behind Central time and Honolulu is four hours behind, which sometimes hampers efforts to obtain an adult beverage.

“Sometimes games start at nine o’clock or something and they don’t start serving alcohol in Anchorage until 10,” Roberts said. “It’ll be a Saturday or Sunday and you’ve got to hang out drinking coffee until they serve beer.”

For Kaneshiro, the early starts aren’t a problem. “The schedule doesn’t matter; we’re all used to it in Hawaii. We watch football in the mornings so it’s not a big deal,” he said.

Even though Kaneshiro isn’t able to watch as much Marquette basketball anymore because of his two young sons, he still remembers the university fondly.

“There’s just a strong sense of family at Marquette, and I’m living it now,” Kaneshiro said. “I have friends at Marquette that come and visit me all the time … It’s a cultivating environment to be in.”

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