Alumni return from 17 countries for soccer reunion

Cesar Urrutia ’98 traveled the farthest — all the way from Lima, Peru, with stops at four airports before reaching Fairfield.

Alumni and friends came from 17 countries altogether for the “MIU Soccer & Friends” reunion May 12–14. Countries included Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Kenya, Mozambique, India, Mauritius, Philippines, Peru, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the US.

MIU fielded formidable soccer teams in the 1990s and early 2000s. They won many championships and played in leagues with other universities, including the University of Iowa (with 50 times MIU’s enrollment at the time).

Having been away from campus for twenty years and longer, team members wanted to reconnect. The impetus came from then-coaches Francesco Volponi, Falk Mieschendahl ’96, and Carlo Castillo ’98, who organized the weekend and reached out to all the former players.

“It’s the reunion I didn’t know I needed,” one person said in an anonymous survey afterward. “It was full of joy and fun but more than anything, full of love. I  didn’t want it to end.”

“This reunion means the world to me,” another wrote. “This was a much needed time with old friends. It will hold a very special place in my heart for years to come.”                        

Another: “Even coming from the US and seeing how much the place has changed is uplifting. It gave me a sense of wanting to become a student again. MIU was and will continue to be vital to my life.”              

The reunion kicked off on Friday with registration and lunch in Annapurna Dining Hall. Ken Daley, past professor of exercise and sports science, took the group on a bus tour of campus, culminating at the library, with a visit to the beautiful Golden Jubilee display of MIU’s history and the history of the larger global TM organization.

The weekend was filled with reminiscing, laughter, and of course soccer.   

After meditation in the Golden Domes, the group reconvened for a festive pizza party in the newly-renovated Wege Center for the Arts. MIU President John Hagelin extended a warm welcome and spoke about the university. Francesco and Falk also addressed the group. Then everyone joined current students in the opening reception of the new art exhibition, “FACTUAL / ACTUAL,” in the Wege Center’s art gallery.

Then came Saturday and the reunion’s centerpiece — a soccer game.

It was the alumni against current students.

Though the alumni were in their forties and fifties and mostly retired from soccer, both teams displayed admirable skills. The students were definitely impressed by their elders. The game was moved to the Fieldhouse due to rain, which only heightened alumni nostalgia, since they had played many games there. One alum commented: “I felt significantly older after the soccer game.”

After evening program, the group went to the Cider House for dinner and to town for dancing.

The weekend was filled with emotion — old friends reconnecting and sharing their appreciation for each other and their MIU experiences.

“Coming back on campus was like coming back home,” said Petra Renker ’98.

“In 1991, my soul embarked on this new experience at this weird place called MIU in Fairfield,” said Victor Manuel Garcia, “and last weekend, my soul traveled in a time machine. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”  

Sunday morning, the alumni gathered for a final meal, reminiscing about the good old days and processing the new memories forged over the weekend. By Sunday evening, most had started their journey back home.

But the experience was so powerful that the team decided they’d reunite every three years. Planning for the 2026 “MIU Soccer and Friends Reunion,” May 22–24, 2026, is already underway. 

In the post-reunion survey, participants reflected on the role MIU continues to play in their lives.

“[MIU] was the foundation that helped me develop a sense of self. I deepened my self-understanding and that has served me well over the years.”

“It was the foundation that helped me develop a sense of self,” one wrote. “I deepened my self-understanding and that has served me well over the years.”

“My Vedic Science-centered Computer Science education has provided me with a powerful insight in to this field and all others,” another wrote. “It’s something I cherish. This knowledge continues to power me on with my other involvements and interests, and enables me to have meaningful, in-depth conversations with professionals in many other fields. Simply put, it empowers me to make great and productive connections even today.”

“It was the best time in my life,” wrote another. “Being in the dome twice a day was an amazing privilege.”

And another had this recommendation: “More events like these. . . . In the end people weren’t there so much to play soccer as to connect with people they had lost touch with.”

Farewell on the soccer field

Thank you to Eva Saint Denis for her contributions to this story.