During a recent stroll to Lander University's soccer field graduates Donald and Audine Bergman, classes of '70 and '65 respectively, reflected, along with Van Taylor, head men's soccer coach, on the changing face of Lander's campus.
Taylor thought back to an instance when a couple of Lander alums from the Columbia area contacted him about a French soccer player they thought would be a good asset to Lander's team.
And the Bergmans looked back on a long-standing and unceasing commitment to the Lander soccer program, which started with that recommendation to Taylor and recently culminated in their endowment of a Lander scholarship in Taylor's name.
"I am very grateful to the Bergmans," said Taylor, "they have been loyal longtime supporters of our program."
Naturally the Bergmans initial connection with Lander stems from their time here as students. That connection, however, was solidified by the connection they made with Taylor and the soccer program.
After graduating from Lander with a degree in business administration, Donald Bergman landed a job working as a criminal investigator for the Internal Revenue Service. He then went on to work for the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
Audine Bergman graduated from Lander with a degree in biology along with certification to teach the subject. She worked briefly in the medical field, then worked with the school district in the Irmo area as a substitute teacher.
In 1985 the Bergmans' son, Brit, was part of an exchange program through which he stayed with a family in Nante, France. The Bergmans in turn played host to Stephan Moyon, a son from the family with whom Brit was staying.
The exchange was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two families.
During his stay with the Bergmans, Moyon showed great interest and talent as a soccer player. As the time grew near for Moyon to attend college, the Bergmans contacted the, then new, Lander soccer coach, Van Taylor, to see if he would be interested in recruiting the young Frenchman.
Moyon's tryout went very well, and Taylor welcomed him to the team. Moyon played for Lander from 1988-92, and, according to Taylor, the soccer team was very strong during that time, placing fourth in the national tournament. To this day, Moyon is second on the all-time list for the most games played at Lander.
As a testament to a long tradition of support for the Lander University Soccer program, Donald and Audine Bergman recently founded a scholarship named for Lander men's soccer coach, Van Taylor. From left are Van Taylor, Audine Bergman, Donald Bergman and Steve Grogan, Lander director of Alumni Affairs.
Moyon went on to get his MBA and is now a commercial business manager for Velux America and lives in Rock Hill.
During Moyon's time on the Lander soccer team the Bergmans scarcely missed a game. Their absence from games, no matter where Lander played, was so infrequent that Moyon would get alarmed when he noticed they were not there.
"If we missed a game," Mrs. Bergman said, "We were sure to get a call from Stephan making sure everything was all right."
As the Bergmans have maintained their connection with Lander, they have also not lost touch with Moyon. In fact, during a recent lunch meeting with the couple, Moyon expressed his constant amazement that the exchange program he was a part of so long ago had laid the groundwork for not only a successful stint as a Lander soccer player, but also for the opportunity to pursue the very degree Donald Bergman had received from Lander nearly 20 years prior.
After Moyon graduated from Lander, the Bergmans continued to attend soccer games whenever they could. Even after they retired to Florida, they traveled to support the Lander team if it was playing anywhere near them.
Though their main interest with Lander has been the soccer program, the Bergmans have taken on other important roles as alumni.
Shortly after the Bergmans introduced Taylor to that young French soccer player, Donald Bergman became a member of the Lander Alumni Board. He first served on the board from 1987-93. During this time, he helped plan alumni events and fundraising activities, and he served as an ambassador to Lander in his community. After their recent relocation to the Greenwood area Mr. Bergman rejoined the Lander Alumni Board furthering his involvement with Lander alumni activities.
Perhaps the greatest gift extended to Lander University by the Bergmans is the new Van Taylor Soccer Scholarship. Named for the man who helped them solidify a long-lasting bond with their alma mater, the scholarship will help the soccer program recruit new talent and help scholar-athletes pay for their education.
Eleanor Teal, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of The Lander Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the Bergmans' ongoing support of the Lander community.
"This scholarship will serve as a wonderful reminder of the connection Lander and the Bergmans have shared over the years," said Teal. "Through this scholarship the Bergmans are honoring the hard work and dedication of Lander men's soccer coach, Van Taylor, but at the same time, they are making it possible for young soccer players to benefit from a Lander education, now and for years to come."
For further information regarding Lander scholarships, contact the Office of University Advancement at 864-388-8350 or visit online at www.lander.edu/advancement.