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Wrath's work is 'labor of love'

October  02, 2013

Dedication, loyalty and love of the game. The words are often used about athletes, but at Augustana College, many would argue they are the perfect description of Dave Wrath, the man who has led the sports information office at Augustana College for the past 32 years, and helped it become one of the nation’s leading producers of Academic All-Americans.

To recognize that commitment, the new press box at the college's gleaming new stadium complex will be named in his honor as the Dave Wrath Press Box. The dedication event will be Friday, Oct. 11, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Charles D. Lindberg Stadium, part of the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex (520 38th Street, Rock Island).

Wrath’s tireless work to promote the college’s athletic program is legendary in media circles, according to Michael Zapolski, director of athletics at Augustana. Over the Labor Day weekend, when many people rested, Wrath covered 15 Augustana sports events and wrote and distributed press releases for all of them, including final scores, highlights and updated team statistics.

Wrath, who prefers a low profile, shrugs it off. “Being the sports information director at Augustana has never been ‘work’ for me,” he said. “It has been a labor of love with an institution that I believe in, and one that showed confidence in me 32 years ago by giving me a chance to run the sports information office.”

His contributions to the college have been invaluable, according to Augustana College President Steven Bahls, particularly with regard to Wrath’s work with student athletes. Augustana currently is ranked second in NCAA Division III, trailing only the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the number of Academic All-Americans it has produced, and ranks sixth nationally among all colleges and universities. It’s an extraordinary record given that Augustana, a small liberal arts college, is competing against the country’s biggest schools. And many of Augustana’s 146 Academic All-Americans thank Wrath for steering them down the path to success.

“Dave performed all of the behind-the-scenes work for me and should be given credit by all of his AAAs,” said Academic All-American Erik Westerberg, a math major and linebacker on Augustana’s football team. He said Wrath contacted him his freshman year to begin a mentoring process that involved his academics, athletics and service involvement, all of which are weighed in the selection process for the award.

Wrath started running the sports information office shortly after graduating from Augustana. The college’s longtime track coach, Dr. Paul Olson, remembers Wrath as the “intense athlete” who ran cross country for some of the college’s most successful track teams in 1979 and 1980. Wrath simply translated that intensity to the sports media job at the college, Dr. Olson said.

Over time, the awards and accolades piled up. Wrath is a longtime member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and has received several awards from CoSIDA, including being named to the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 2003. Augustana inducted Wrath into the college’s “Tribe of Vikings” Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Dave Wrath Press Box now sits atop the new Lindberg Stadium on the north side of the Knowlton Complex. Adjacent to the stands is the new Ken Anderson Academic All-America Club, named after the NFL legend who was a science and math major at Augustana, and the college’s first Academic All-American in 1970.

“Dave Wrath has profoundly impacted a large number of people during his lengthy career at Augustana,” said Zapolski. “I am blessed to count Dave among my closest colleagues and am grateful for the many ways he positively impacts our athletic program on a daily basis.”

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833