-- Will Ratner '22 --
When searching for a life-long commitment, drive, and dedication towards Wesleyan football, look no further than Dave Patterson '86. Throughout his time during and after his Wesleyan career, the program has remained central to Patterson's life.
Born and raised in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, Patterson was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball at Garnet Valley High School. He decided he wanted to continue playing football in college and pursued a school that excelled both on the field and in the classroom. Originally, Patterson never considered Wesleyan, it was only on the suggestion of a high school guidance counselor that he decided to give the school a visit. Upon meeting Coach Bill Macdermott and the team, Patterson was sold.
Patterson made an immediate impact for the Cardinals, playing right guard alongside current Athletic Director Mike Whalen '83 as part of a memorable offensive line. In the years following, Patterson was a constant force on strong Wesleyan teams, playing many different positions along the offensive front. His fondest memory came in the last game of his senior year as the Cardinals were triumphant over a dominant Trinity team on the road, 41-20. In his four years at Wesleyan, it was the program's only win over the Bantams, who had posted an impressive 28-12 record over the previous five seasons. The game was particularly memorable for Patterson, as his younger brother played for Trinity.
Off the field, Patterson was a Government major, specializing in American politics, and originally planned on attending law school. He ultimately ended up in a career in the brewing industry, working sales and management jobs for Anheuser-Busch for over 20 years, and now works for the Japanese brewing company Sapporo. While no direct correlation between government and the beverage industry, Patterson cites liberal arts education as providing the necessary preparation for the sales management industry. He specifically credited his Wesleyan education with teaching him to read, write, and think critically. Patterson especially emphasizes the dividends of a liberal arts education in business, as it allows you to think on your feet more so than any unique or specialized education. Additionally, he believes that his Wesleyan education propelled him to stay an active thinker, and he's now more intellectually curious than he ever has been before.
Patterson's ties to the University and the football program did not end following his graduation in 1986. Since then, he has remained an integral part of the Wesleyan community and has stayed actively engaged with the team. He enjoys paying it forward by encouraging students to take a closer look at Wesleyan, even if they had not previously considered the school. There are currently two Cardinals that hail from his high school alma mater: offensive linemen Jake Erley '22 and Alex Yao '21.
Patterson also credits Wesleyan for the lifelong friendships he found here. To this day, he remains in close contact with many acquaintances he met during his time in Middletown, especially those he played on the gridiron with. Nearly 35 years after graduation, Patterson remains in a tight-knit group with teammates Rich Beal '85, Bill Gerber '86, and Joe Morton '86.
Yet, above all, Patterson has passed on the Wesleyan tradition to the next generation and is proud to have two children attend his alma mater. His daughter was a Neuroscience and Behavior major who has gone on to attend medical school at the University of New England while his son, Brendan, is a senior and tight end on the football team. Like his father, Brendan has played a big role in leading the Cardinals. Over the course of his son's four years at Wesleyan, Patterson has missed just one game, but for good reason, as he attended his daughter's white coat ceremony.
Patterson believes the passing of the torch, from one generation to the next, is a deeply rooted tradition that Wesleyan football excels at. According to Patterson, what sets Wesleyan apart is that the team "walks the walk". Having known Mike Whalen as a former teammate, along with the relationship forged with current Head Coach Dan DiCenzo, he knows what the program values. He loves the commitment that Wesleyan football has of balancing high academics and competitive football. Even outside of the athletic department, Patterson feels the whole campus strives to be the best at whatever they do, and these winning aspirations transpire across the whole campus. Patterson believes that this atmosphere is built by faculty, staff and coaches who support the aspirations of the students, and the students themselves, who constantly strive for greatness.
The energy Patterson brings to the program to this day is electric, and is inspiring to all involved with the program. It is through alumnus like him, that the program is able to strive.