A favor that a coach did for young Richard Sierzant (’67 BS EDU) is being repaid through an athletic scholarship endowed through the alumnus’ will.
Growing up in central New York state, at a young age Sierzant avidly read magazines like Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream, publications that fueled his love for hunting and fishing. After high school, he enrolled in a small college near home, but he knew it wasn’t for long and it wasn’t.
“I knew I wanted to head West to attend a large state school and initially considered either Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin, because numerous stories and photos in those magazines at that time featured those particular states,” he said from his home in Carbondale, Colorado. “Minnesota seemed like the most interesting place—it had the most stories and pictures—so that’s where I was headed.”
Sierzant packed “the little bit of stuff I had and told my parents I was heading West.” He hit the road, hitchhiking to an unknown future. Picking up a ride east of Chicago on I-90, “the young guy who was driving said I should visit Madison before continuing on, so I did and stayed for the next three years.”
At first, he slept in different places around the Memorial Union—“you could do that at that time and not get arrested”—and eventually rented a room in an old fraternity house on Langdon Street. “I got a job working at the Coca-Cola plant on University Avenue and started taking night classes at the University Extension on the old Engineering Campus,” he said. “I did that for two semesters.”
He then attended class full-time in the summer, receiving college course credit, but was not enrolled in the University as a student. “I had not applied, and I had no money for school,” he said. Sierzant was taking a course taught by then-baseball Coach Arthur “Dynie” Mansfield. “In mid-summer I approached Coach Mansfield after class one day, told him my story and asked him for help in making application to a full-time degreed program. Dynie told me to come see him at the end of the summer session and to bring my grades.” This was the summer of 1964.
The dean reviewed my transcript and indicated, based upon the academic information and the recommendation of Coach Mansfield, that he would make this happen!
“I had studied hard, did well and presented my grades to Dynie. Coach Mansfield then walked me directly downstairs and into the dean’s office in the School of Education,” Sierzant said. “Dynie directly informed the dean that he was ‘recommending’ I be admitted to the UW. The three of us spoke forever it seemed.
“The dean reviewed my transcript and indicated, based upon the academic information and the recommendation of Coach Mansfield, that he would make this happen!
“Dynie being the baseball coach, the dean was curious to know what position I played. I told the dean my sport was hockey not baseball, but my focus was on education. I was enrolled that day and received a ‘hockey scholarship’ from the dean, which waived my out-of-state tuition,” he said. “Be advised there was no intercollegiate hockey team at that time; Badger Bob [Johnson] was not yet the coach, and I certainly was NOT good enough to ever play at the university level; the ‘hockey scholarship’ was Dynie’s and the dean’s and my inside joke!
“Coach Mansfield and the dean’s offer of a scholarship made all things possible,” Sierzant said. “I graduated UW-Madison in three years and completed a master’s in guidance and counseling at Indiana University the next year.”
Sierzant taught physical education and was a guidance counselor but decided to move to Colorado and change careers. He since has successfully represented Jeep Sales Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Winnebago Industries and AirStream in various sales and management positions throughout the Western United States and Canada, inclusive of Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, he’s been involved in various successful small business ventures in Colorado.
If not for the faith Dynie Mansfield had in me, and without the UW offering an opportunity as well as its financial investment, certainly my life would not have been this full.
He continues involvement in one last business but does make ample time available to chase fish and hunt upland game throughout the upper Eastern Rocky Mountain states.
“If not for the faith Dynie Mansfield had in me, and without the UW offering an opportunity as well as its financial investment, certainly my life would not have been this full. I’m grateful for what I have, for where I am today and for the person and institution that have made this all possible.”
In his will, Sierzant has established a bequest to create the Arthur “Dynie” Mansfield Hockey Scholarship, which will rotate annually between the men’s and women’s hockey teams.