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Carrying on the family legacy

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Staff photo by Travis Rosenau
Ben Pearson, pictured, will take his talents to Martin Luther College next fall as a fifth-generation student at the school to play both golf and basketball with the Knights.

NEW ULM — Faith and family come first for Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers senior Ben Pearson.

Attending a college synonymous with his family, all while playing two of his favorite sports, was just what the three-sport athlete was looking for.

The 6-foot-3 Charger made the decision to continue his academic and athletic career in New Ulm at Martin Luther College in the fall. He will play both basketball and golf for the Knights.

“At first I visited Bethany Lutheran College and wanted to do something in business,” Ben Pearson said. “So I visited them and they had a great program over there, had a great school. Then I visited MLC and I’m, like, ‘Wow, this is a really great program and another really great school.’ So I just thought, ‘What do I want to be? Do I want to be a teacher, do I want to be in business somewhere?’ And then I just decided that being a teacher is more important and the biggest impact I can have.”

By attending MLC, which is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), Ben Pearson will also become a fifth-generation student at the school.

His mom, Amy (Bauer) Pearson, was an All-Conference and All-American basketball player, an All-Conference cross-country runner and a member of the school’s National Small College Athletic Association (NSCAA) National Championship volleyball team in 1994. His dad, Matt Pearson, was a golfer and an All-Conference football player for the Knights.

Ben Pearson’s grandpa and grandma were also athletes at MLC, which was at the time called Dr. Martin Luther College (DMLC). His grandpa Jim Bauer played soccer, basketball and golf at DMLC, while his grandma Gayle (Gilmore) Bauer was a basketball player at the school.

Ben Pearson’s great-grandma Elisabeth (Johannes) Bauer, also attended DMLC, while his great-grandpa H. Paul Bauer and great-great-grandpa Theodor Bauer attended Northwestern College in Wisconsin, which later joined DMLC to establish MLC in 1995.

“I’m just extremely blessed to be a part of the family that I am and to have my mom and dad as both my teachers and coaches throughout grade school,” Ben Pearson said. “And my grandma and grandpa Bauer are always ready to share their insights after a basketball game because they have been coaches a very long time and I respect what they have to say. And all the time that they put into me, especially my dad, always going over to the gym with me and making me work to get better.”

Ben Pearson added that even though he didn’t get to know his great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, he thinks it’s an honor to be a part of their lineage and hopes to make his family proud by being the best teacher and coach he can be.

While he won’t be teaming up with Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s standout Will Walter, who committed to play basketball at BLC this past January, Ben Pearson will get to continue matching up against him in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference basketball action next winter.

Ben Pearson finished his MVL career third on the boys basketball career scoring list this past March with 1,685 points behind Jake Kettner (1,821) and Galen Holzhueter (2,207).

Ben Pearson will also be teaming up with an MLC men’s basketball squad coached by Greg Holzhueter, another MVL grad that passed 1,000 points during his prep basketball career.

“I think it was during my junior season, during basketball, he [coach Holzhueter] started contacting me and reaching out and saying he wants me to be part of MLC and their culture and program,” Ben Pearson said. “Over the summer we stayed in touch, just getting to know each other, we had a couple of meetings, probably once a month, I would say. We’d get together and just chat and see where I was at with my decision.

“During [this past] basketball season, we texted on a regular basis, during every game probably. He was always texting me congrats and [is a] very encouraging guy. I’m really, really happy that he’s the MLC basketball coach.”

Ben Pearson finished his senior year of basketball at MVL with 24.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He also finished with the school records for points in a single game (46), points in a season (680) and 3-pointers made in a season (96).

He’ll have to learn more about his new college teammates as the year goes on, but Ben Pearson said he knows a couple of players in particular he’s excited to play basketball with at MLC.

“For basketball, Tom Balge, I think was [MLC’s] main guy last year, he went to St. Paul’s [Lutheran School] actually, so I know him from there,” he said. “He’s a super nice guy, I love him, I’ll be excited to play with him. And there’s an incoming freshman that’s in my grade, Ben Vasold, he’s a really, really good shooting guard and can really play well. I’m excited to play with him.”

Golf is another sport Ben Pearson shines in as he looks to finish his senior year with a third trip to the state tournament. Last year, he shot a 158 at the state tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker, Minnesota.

When it comes to hitting the links for the Knights, Ben Pearson and his next golf coach know each other all too well.

They should, being that MLC’s head golf coach is Ben Pearson’s dad, Matt.

“It’s going to be nice to have him as my coach because he’s obviously taught me everything and he comes to watch my meets all the time,” Ben Pearson said. “And we get in work by ourselves just outside of MVL practice. He knows my game, he knows how I play, he knows what I like to think and what I like to do, so he has a good understanding for my golf game and I think that will really help in the college experience.

“And with him being my coach and all, he was my coach in grade school for basketball. So he coached basketball from third to eighth grade, so I’ve had him as a coach before.”

He’s still got more golf to play this spring in high school and more classes to attend at MVL, but Ben Pearson’s looking forward to his next adventure at MLC.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity that they’re allowing me to go MLC and further my education and praise the Lord in everything that I do,” he said. “It’ll be a great way to do it.”



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