PLATTEVILLE — The UW–Platteville men’s basketball program a cornerstone of the Pioneer Family two weeks ago with the passing of Mark “Red Dog” Redfern on Aug. 12.
“No individual had bridged the generational gap of the program over the years,” said Pioneer head coach Jeff Gard. “From the early 1980s to the present moment, Dog touched the lives of all student–athletes who wore the Pioneer jersey to the Pioneer faithful that cheered along side him. We all have our favorite memories of how Dog touched are lives with the good times and many laughs, some on his account.
“In honor of Mark’s passion and commitment to Pioneer Basketball, we are renaming the Pioneer Basketball Booster Club Golf Outing the Red Dog Memorial Golf Outing. This outing will ensure Mark’s impact on Platteville Basketball will never be forgotten.”
Redfern, who was certainly one of the program’s most recognizable and loyal fans, helped organize and support the Pioneer Basketball Booster Club throughout its entire existence and was a prominent figure at practice, training sessions, road games and recruiting trips.
He was also courtside at almost every home game, running the scoreboard clock as a volunteer for 30 years until he retired to a front row seat across the court three years ago.
“It was such an enjoyable time sitting at the table all those years with Dog,” said close friend Tim Boldt, who is also the president of the UW–Plattville Basketball Booster Club. Boldt has also run the shot clock for more than 30 years and lived a block away from Redfern. “I don’t think between the two of us if we missed five games total in 30 years, that would have been a lot. We weren’t gone very often and we had a lot of fun at that table.”
After a few days of reflection following Redfern’s passing, coach Gard made the decision to rename the UW–Platteville men’s basketball golf outing in Redfern’s memory.
“On the day of Mark’s passing, Jeff and I were talking and I made the suggestion that maybe we should rename the golf outing after Mark and he thought that would be a good idea,” said Boldt. “Throughout the day as he was calling former players and coaches, he also got that same suggestion from 3 or 4 others.”
“Mark “Red Dog” Redfern was a prominent piece to the foundation and lasting success of the Pioneer Basketball Booster Club,” said Gard. “From its creation in 1985 to this present day the booster club has always been an integral part of the basketball family here at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. The support has played a significant role in the success of the program and most importantly created an experience for our Pioneer basketball student–athletes unlike any other in the country.”
“It is a fitting tribute to Mark because of all he meant to the program, from going on recruiting trips with the coaches, to being at practice and games to welcoming players and their parents into the Pioneer Family,” said Boldt. “He was always in the middle of it. He was our ringleader. He was a funny guy and he loved to have fun. He was like a brother to me, like
a brother to a lot of us.”
Redfern’s and Boldt’s connection to the Pioneer program began in the mid 1980s when UW–Platteville hired a former Wisconsin assistant coach named Bo Ryan.
“When Coach Ryan came to town, Mark had a connection to him in Madison through Ron Osterholz, who was the president of the Badger basketball booster club at the time,” said Boldt. “At the time we weren’t really around the Pioneer basketball program. But we were all into sports, going to Badger games, both basketball and football almost every weekend. Ron told Mark we had a great coach coming to Platteville that we should take care of so we jumped on Bo’s bandwagon and welcomed him to town and that’s how it started.
“Then, we started winning a few games and it really became a fun time. And it still is. It was just a family atmosphere that we were all drawn to. Then when coach Gard came back to Platteville with former coach Paul Combs and we just continue doing what we could do to support the program and continued to do so.”
Gard also wrote a moving tribute to Redfern on the UW–Platteville men’s basketball Facebook page, sharing how they first met and what “Dog” meant to the program and Gard personally.
“These past few days I have had a chance to reflect on what Mark Redfern has meant to me as well as so many others,” said Gard. “For me personally it “officially” started in the spring of 2003 with one phone call from my brother, Greg, to the person we came to know as Red Dog.
“‘Dog, my brother is coming back to Platteville, make sure you take care of him,’ Greg said. From that time on Dog, you were always there living up to the promise you gave Greg. With the organization and support of the booster club and the program. You were a loyal Pioneer from start to finish!
“From recruiting trips, to standing with me at the top of the hill, to game day bus trips together with the team, you were there four our Pioneers!
“After a tough loss or a down year, you were there to pick me up. After the wins and championships, you’d sit at half court slouched back in your chair with your arms crossed with that smirk on your face. You understood the roller coaster rides in a season!
“When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, you were there to help with rides for his treatment, brought friends to his home to play card games, and were by my side when he passed away. You supported us through life’s journeys!
“From introducing me to the love of my life, Amy, to standing up in our wedding, to the birth of Hannah and Vince, you took care of me! Thank you, Greg, for making a call to someone you knew would hold true to his promise. Dog, to me, and so many others, you were more than a friend, you were family!”
This year’s Red Dog Memorial Golf outing will be held Saturday at the Platteville Golf & Country Club. For more information regarding this year’s outing, or to register for or sponsor this year’s golf outing, visit https://www.letsgopioneers.com/Register/MBB.