O’Neal, Foreman honored at alumni weekend

The SVSU’s men’s basketball team held its annual alumni weekend on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26.

Saturday’s events kicked off with the annual 100 Alumni game at 11 a.m.

During the men’s basketball game against Northwood, alumni were recognized during halftime. A banner and jersey dedication ceremony followed the men’s game.

Athletic Director John Decker gave a brief opening address before two alumni were honored.

Mark Oates introduced the first banner recognition, which was for Louis O’Neal. Oates was a teammate of O’Neal’s when they played at SVSU.

“I first came to this campus over 30 years ago,” he said. “(O’Neal) took me under his wing as a 17-year-old freshman who didn’t know what he was going to be doing, and he was my big brother. … That’s what he was. He was leader. He was a great man.”

O’Neal was a four-year letter winner from 1979-1982. He was a shooting guard, and he still holds the SVSU and GLIAC record for field goals in a game with 21. He went on to play professional basketball in Portugal.

O’Neal died June 11, 2016, at the age of 55. Men’s basketball head coach Randy Baruth delivered the closing remarks.

“I never got to know (O’Neal), I never got to meet (O’Neal),” he said. “The first time I got to, per se, meet him was at (O’Neal’s) funeral. … Hearing what kind of a person he was always caught my ears over the last few years.”

Elaine Hunyadi, the director of Center for Academic Achievement, presented the banner for Kalen Foreman.

“(Foreman) was the inspiration for the work that we do with over 75 athletics each semester,” she said. “When we first started, it was just (Foreman) and his best friend.”

Foreman died on April 19, 2018, while working as an assistant coach for SVSU’s men’s basketball team.

“(Foreman) took great care in monitoring his players’ progress, showing interest, empathy and positive regards toward all,” Hunyadi said. “He truly wanted all his guys to succeed – not just for the advancement of their careers, but for themselves.”

By 25, Foreman had four academic degrees, including two masters, and achieved his dream of coaching basketball, she said.

“Perseverance, grit and resiliency led (Foreman) to achieve great personal success,” Hunyadi said. “His kindness, joy and laughter made us love him.”

Baruth said that Foreman was a great player and a great person.

“To the Foreman family, there are some people who get put into the Hall of Fame for stats, for touchdowns, for all these things. If there was a Hall of Fame for great people, (Foreman’s) first,” Baruth said. “I’m sure I can speak for everyone at Saginaw Valley when I say we were the lucky ones to have people like Louis O’Neal and Kalen Foreman for as long as they were here for Alumni weekends and everything they’ve done on campus.”

Reporting by Kaitlyn Farley, Vanguard Editor-in-Chief

Kaitlyn Farley

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