Hear the Toll of the Victory Bell
by Tessa Pozzi
In light of Veteran’s Day this month, I would like to explore the history of a gift to the college from a veteran – the Victory Bell trophy. Lt. John de Paul Hansen, a St. Ambrose College alumnus and World War II veteran, took the bell from a “captured Japanese hospital ship” and used it to create a trophy for St. Ambrose College and Loras College (McDaniel). First introduced in 1948 at the Homecoming football game against Loras College, the trophy was awarded to the team that was victorious in the annual competition. The intent was to create and establish an “intense rivalry” between the schools. Over a span of fifty-eight years (1948-2006), the two schools only played fourteen games (10 of which Ambrose won). This was due in part to the discontinuation of our football program from 1963-70. Many football programs at Catholic colleges throughout the Midwest were suspended during this time period because of financial reasons and the institutions wanting to be known for academics. Despite the gap in games, Hansen’s desire to establish an intense rivalry was realized, and at times the trophy was even stolen from the winning college (Ernzen). In the fall of 2006, St. Ambrose University and Loras College played their final football game, of which SAU was victorious. But where is the Bell? And will there ever be a day where this rivalry is rekindled and the Bell can once again toll? Or has it been permanently replaced by the basketball version of the bell trophy and men’s soccer Bishops Cup?
Ernzen, Laura. “The Bell That No Longer Tolls.” The Buzz [St. Ambrose University] 19 Nov. 1998: 7. Print.
McDaniel, George W. A Great and Lasting Beginning: The First 125 Years of St. Ambrose University. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.