Heavy Lifting: The New George Tardiff Football Weight Room

Monday, July 13, 2020


This past fall, Benedictine College President Stephen Minnis ’82 had a conversation with Raven Athletics Hall of Famer and all-time football great, Keith Hertling ’79. Raven football needs a major renovation to its weight room. Keith knew it was true.

“I lift in that room every time I come back to visit,” said Keith, now a Senior Vice President with Jersey Mike’s Subs after spending over four decades in coaching and in the fitness industry. “Some of the equipment has rust on it. It’s just not where it needs to be.”

President Minnis suggested that a new weight room might be a good project and naming opportunity for Jersey Mike’s. Keith thought about it a while and came to a conclusion.

“If I’m going to do this, it has to be for George. It’s got to be his name on it.” said Keith.

George Tardiff '59George Tardiff ’59 is another Raven Athletics Hall of Famer and former player. He came back to Atchison to be the second head coach of the newly revived Raven football program when John Baricevic ’70 gave up the post in 1974 (Benedictine discontinued football from 1962 until 1970.) George coached three seasons and led the Ravens to the Boot Hill Bowl championship in 1976, where Keith set the then-NAIA record with 44 rushes in one game, gaining over 290 yards on the ground.

After the 1976 season, Coach Tardiff returned to his home state of New Jersey to take care of his ailing parents.

“My wife, Kelly, and I talked about it, and she was on board,” said Keith. “If we were going to do this for George, the time had to be now.”

Keith and Kelly made the lead gift of $100,000 to the new George Tardiff Football Weight Room. The total project to renovate facilities for football and other athletics programs is estimated to cost over $300,000.

“I’m calling 20-25 guys a week,” said Keith. “I’m telling them to be ready to give.”

Larry Wilcox ’72, Head Football Coach at Benedictine and a Raven assistant coach for all three years of Coach Tardiff ’s tenure, agrees that the time is right to recognize his friend and former boss, and sees Keith and Kelly’s gift as an extension of the player Keith was.

“What Keith helped start with George validated the fact that Benedictine football had returned. Until the day George passed away, I really believed his heart was always at Benedictine College.”

And now, with the help of Raven alumni and friends like Keith and those who will choose to join him, Coach Tardiff ’s name will long be revered by every Raven who trains in the place that bears his name.

Rosemary Wilkerson
Executive Director of Development