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A big honor for Big Dog: Long-time manager and fan inducted into hall of fame

Coach+Breneman+walking+to+the+bleachers+at+a+women%E2%80%99s+soccer+game+versus+Joliet+Junior+College.
Coach Breneman walking to the bleachers at a women’s soccer game versus Joliet Junior College.

Coach Breneman walking to the bleachers at a women’s soccer game versus Joliet Junior College.

Max Goldberg / Clarion

Max Goldberg / Clarion

Coach Breneman walking to the bleachers at a women’s soccer game versus Joliet Junior College.

Ethan Maurice, Staff Writer

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Gary Breneman, known on campus as Big Dog, has been synonymous with Madison College sports since 1975-76 when he was a student here on campus.

“I just asked Doug Redsden, he was the (basketball) coach back then, if I could help out. And I also asked Fred Williams, the baseball coach, and they said I could stay as long as I wanted too,” Breneman recalled.

Even after 42 years Breneman has no plans of slowing down.

“As long as my health allows, I’ll be here,” he states proudly.

Big Dog is the model of consistency. He always smiles. He is always in a good mood. He does his tasks well, and does them to completion. The impressive part is that he has done these things day after day for 42 years.

“He exceeds expectations every day. I’ve never seen him have a bad day” says Mike Davenport, who is the head coach of the baseball team, and one of Big Dog’s many friends.

Breneman’s dedication to Madison College athletics, specifically its basketball programs, was recognized on Sept. 30 when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in the Friends of the Game category.

The manager emeritus for Madison College athletics, Breneman is always working behind the scenes, whether its throwing in the laundry, filling up water cups or another managerial tasks. It might be cracking a joke to lighten the mood, or it might just be the smile he provides when he enters the room.

Essentially, he is one of the team. He’s friends with all the baseball players, knows all their names. He’s like a walking phonebook. He knows where they went to high school, what the nickname of their high schools were, and their record when they were seniors. 

Big Dog is a fixture at Madison College sporting events. He arrives before warmups start, and will do anything to help out before the game begins.

Big Dog really loves WolfPack basketball games, both men’s and women’s. He cheers, and is usually the loudest in the gym. He makes no secret of his love for the WolfPack, and he never misses a game for the team.

He is so in tune with the game, he knows exactly when a player needs some sort of encouragement. He watches intently, eyes never leaving the action.

When a timeout or dead ball stops the game however, he is ready for a break. He’ll tell you exactly what play the coach should’ve run, or which player he wants subbed in next.

When Big Dog learned he would be recognized by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association this year, he was ecstatic. The Madison College cafeteria, where he works, even posted his picture on the TV monitors to commemorate the event.

The actual induction was held at the Wilderness Resort in the Dells. There were many coaches and former players, almost a basketball fraternity, a web of people who were all connected by the game.

Gary Breneman is now part of this fraternity. At the event, his extended family included Madison College friends and filled three whole tables. After waiting for about 90 minutes, Big Dog’s name was called. It took quite a long time to list off his achievements and past awards.

After getting the award and taking the customary photo, Big Dog headed back to his table. Back in his Madison College element, he could celebrate with his friends. His family.

You could see his thoughts written all over his face, and when asked about how he was feeling, he gave a three-word response. “It was awesome.”

Next time you are at a game, look for Big Dog. You’ll probably hear him after a basket, goal, or home run, he will be the one cheering the loudest.

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A big honor for Big Dog: Long-time manager and fan inducted into hall of fame