A pair of highly decorated golfers and two memorable football players were inducted into the Central College Athletics Hall of Honor during Homecoming weekend Sept. 27-28.
All-American running back Mark Kacmarynski ’96 of West Des Moines, former defensive back and coach Brian O’Donnell ’70 of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., three-time Iowa Conference women’s golf MVP Cindy (Kline) Olson ’88 of Urbandale and standout golfer, professional and coach John Bermel ’84 of Cedar Falls were selected.
Central’s hall of honor is intended to recognize those who were exceptional performers in the athletics arena as a student-athlete, coach or administrator, and who have distinguished themselves in life after graduation through service and leadership. To be eligible for consideration, a nominee must have graduated or served as a Central coach/ administrator at least 15 years earlier.
Cindy (Kline) Olson ‘88
Olson was the Iowa Conference women’s golf MVP for three seasons after transferring to Central in 1985, helping the Dutch win titles during a streak of six consecutive conference crowns. Olson was also the tournament medalist three straight years at the State Small College Tournament and twice at the National Small College Tournament, conducted simultaneously, receiving all-America distinction.
A three-time winner of the team’s Maurine Timmer MVP Award, Olson was a team co-captain in 1987. She set a school season scoring average record of 80 in 1987 and her 18-hole score of 71 still matches the school’s all-time low.
Olson works at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines and serves as Director of Project Management in the Retirement division. Olson walked multiple marathons and half-marathons to raise money for Breast Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease and served on the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors from 2005-09.
John Bermel ‘84
Bermel helped Central claim four Iowa Conference titles and four NCAA Division III tournament top-10 finishes. A three-time top-three league placewinner, Bermel received all-America honorable mention distinction three times. He was team MVP and captain in 1984.
He reached three majors, the PGA Championships (1994, 1996) and the U.S. Senior Open (2012). Bermel was Iowa Section PGA Match Play champion (1990) and the Stroke Play winner four times (1993, 2000, 2004, 2006).
The Iowa assistant professional of the year in 1987, Bermel served three clubs before becoming head professional at Beaver Hills Country Club in Cedar Falls in 1990, and then at nearby Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in 1995.
Bermel also became men’s golf coach at the University of Northern Iowa in 1995, adding women’s golf responsibilities in 2002. The Iowa PGA Professional of the Year in 2012 and Golf Digest’s “Best Teacher” for Iowa in 2009, Bermel received the Labron Harris Sr. Award through the PGA for his contributions to the game in 2011.
Brian O’Donnell ‘70
O’Donnell was a standout defensive back who had a school-record eight interceptions in 1967, including four in one game. He suffered a traumatic career- ending injury in the 1968 Homecoming game, causing paralysis.
O’Donnell received the 1968 team Mentink Award for leadership and inspiration. The team’s outstanding freshman award and a scholarship were later established in his name. He received the Alumni Achievement Award in 2000.
A 1970 graduate, he earned a master’s degree at the University of Missouri and was a guidance counselor/coach at Highland High School in Riverside, Iowa. Head football coach from 1976- 81, he was coach of the year following the 1976 conference title. In 1982 he returned to Assumption High School in his hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Head football coach from 1996-2002 and 1999 league coach of the year, he was an assistant from 2003-07, and remains as a couselor.
O’Donnell won the 1997 Personal Achievement Award from the Opportunity Development Center of Wisconsin Rapids.
Mark Kacmarynski ‘96
Kacmarynski spun and slashed his way to a Central football record 5,855 yards (133.0 per game) on 928 carries, including a record 1,971 yards (7.4 per carry) in 1994 when he was the Iowa Conference MVP. Featured in Sports Illustrated, he missed most of 1995 with a broken leg but returned in 1996 to earn his second team MVP award and first-team all- Iowa Conference honors a third time. A consensus all-America pick, two-time national player of the year finalist and a team co-captain, he pushed the Dutch to two league titles and NCAA berths.
Kacmarynski competed in three NFL training camps and played in NFL Europe for World Bowl champion Frankfurt in 1999 and Amsterdam in 2000.
Inducted into the Iowa High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame in 2009, he became a business partner with Kadeth Network solutions, living in West Des Moines. A mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa, Kacmarynski helped found Central’s Ron Schipper Memorial Golf Outing.