“Her zeal and her interest in the program was just unmatched,” said Gary McCans, director of event services at the University of Dayton.
“You would see her down there in the front row at every game; she would have a pom-pom, a shaker or a towel or something. It was just an amazing relationship.” The basketball program at the University of Dayton has lost a member of the team; Kathryn Boesch didn’t wear a jersey, but if she did it would’ve read “number one fan”.
She died this month at the age of 101. The arena walls and signs bear her photo and family name, but her contributions to Flyer basketball go beyond what meets the eye.
“She knew the players and they knew her,” said McCans. “In warm-ups, she would get a little wave from some of her favorite ones.” McCans said he and Kathryn started at UD together 46 years ago. Kathryn belonged to a volunteer organization called the American Business Women’s Association.
She sold hot dogs and concession food at the arena when it opened in 1969. She rarely missed a game from section 112, near her stepson Jack Boesch. The family has had a front row seat to history; they were one of two families involved in a land swap that made the construction of the arena possible.
“It’s just been interesting to watch this whole thing evolve,” said Boesch, staring out at the arena from his long-held seat. “I just want the next generation to graduate from UD and contribute to it, you know,” he said. The University and the NCAA Local Organizing Committee in Dayton are paying it forward in honor of Kathryn.
They donated a block of tickets to area children and Wright Patterson Airmen to attend the First Four in her name. “It’s a great honor and tribute to her and the legacy she has and everything she’s done for Dayton and the University,” said Matt Farrell, local organizing committee member.
It is a game plan that’s working to keep the Flyer spirit alive for generations to come. McCans said it’s difficult to not see Kathryn in the stands, but the donation is a great gesture that she would’ve loved. “I know she’s up there smiling now,” smiled McCans.