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Blugold Hall of Fame
Roger Vann

Roger Vann is one of only two Blugold football players to have their number retired, the other being Hall of Famer Jim Van Gorden. That came as a result of his stellar 1981 season in which No. 36 ran for 1,575 yards to lead the NAIA in rushing and scored 17 touchdowns. He was MVP of the Wisconsin State University Conference that year and also an NAIA First Team All-American as the Blugolds rolled to a 9-1 record and an 8-0 conference mark. The Blugolds missed the eight-team NAIA playoffs that season when they were ranked No. 9 in the final poll.

Vann was the fourth leading rusher in all of college football in 1981, placing behind Southern Cal's Marcus Allen, Georgia's Herschel Walker and Richmond's Barry Redden. He was the NAIA national player of the week with a school-record 239 yards and five TDs against the University of Evansville.

A strong and durable runner, Vann still holds the school record for carries in a season, toting the ball 343 times in 1981 while losing just two fumbles. The previous year, he had gained 1,168 yards on 203 carries. During those two seasons, he topped the 200-yard mark four times and those efforts still rank among the top 10 single game totals in school history. He went over 100 yards in 16 of 20 games. His 3,076 career yards still rank fourth in school history and his single season total of 1,575 stood for 19 seasons until being eclipsed by Darrell Souhrada in 2000 when Souhrada gained 1,588 yards.

After being named a Kodak All-American and AP College Division Second Team All-American in 1981, Vann signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys and was one of the last players cut during their preseason camp in 1982. At that time, the Cowboys' running backs included Tony Doresett, James Jones, Ron Springs, Robert Newhouse and Timmy Newsome. Vann graduated that year from UWEC with a major in commercial art and advertising.

Vann was teaching in Australia and doing commercial art for the government at the time of his death in December, 2003. He had moved to Australia in 1996 after spending time in the Twin Cities where he was involved in sales with West Publishing Company and as an insurance adjuster with State Farm Insurance.

A talented individual, Vann held a black belt in the martial arts, played an instrument in a blues band, was a professional model and acted in some films.

Vann is survived by his wife Joanne Chiver and children Mikeala and Justice. He also is survived by three children from a previous marriage: Caleea, Andrew and Allannah.

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University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Athletics • McPhee 208 • Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004

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