Author Gordon Brewer not only researched his latest history of sports at Hope College, but lived it.
Brewer is the author of "Journey of Hope: Names and Games Remembered, A History of Intercollegiate Athletics at Hope College--1955-1970." A 1948 graduate of the college, he was a coach and member of the faculty at Hope from 1956 until retiring in 1988.
In the book's foreward, Hope College President James E. Bultman, a 1963 Hope graduate and himself a former student-athlete, notes, "No one is better able to make the Hope sports stories of the 1950s and '60s come alive than Gordon Brewer, longtime Hope professor, coach, athletic director and mentor. Gord's professional education as an historian and his integral involvement with Hope sport during this time lend a special credibility to this account of Hope's athletic history."
The book provides not only detailed accounts of individual contests season-by-season, but insights into the personalities and events beyond the statistics. The blend reflects Brewer's hope to celebrate the players involved.
"During the later '50s and through the '60s, a parade of very special student-athletes graced the scene at Hope College," he writes in the preface. "With sport in proper perspective, they played for the right reasons."
"Because of this and their subsequent contribution to society, I felt strongly that their experience in formative years should be shared," he continued. "That is my raison d'etre for some eight years of research and this book."
The book is as complete an account as possible of both men's and women's athletics. In the pre-Title IX era of the book, women's contests were less thoroughly documented than today, particularly in the media accounts that served as a primary source of information for the book.
The narrative also provides historical context. Discussion of the fall of 1963, for example, includes reflections on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
"Journey of Hope" continues Brewer's earlier research into Hope sports history. His 1992 book "...But How You Played the Game! A History of Intercollegiate Athletics," covered 1862 through the spring of 1955.
Brewer first came to Hope as a freshman in the fall of 1941. His 1948 graduation reflects the interruption of his student experience by service with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
After graduating from Hope, he taught and coached at the high school level for eight years before returning in 1956. His tenure at the college included 32 seasons as track coach, five years as chairman of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics (now Kinesiology), and 20 years as director of athletics. He also served as an assistant coach in football and coached jayvee basketball, and was active as Hope's delegate to the NCAA.
The college's track and field complex is named in his honor. Other recognition from Hope includes a "Meritorious Service Award" from the college's Alumni Association in 1996, and the alumni H-Club's "Hope for Humanity" Award in 2001.
In retirement, Brewer and his wife Lorraine live in Holland.
Copies of "Journey of Hope" are available for $25 at the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore. The bookstore is on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.