Neil Koepke remembers Ron Mason

June 15, 2016

By Neil Koepke staff writer

EAST LANSING — Ron Mason loved to win. At everything.

Whether it was playing hockey at St. Lawrence, coaching at Lake Superior State, Bowling Green and Michigan State, playing tennis with Bud Cooper, the Lake Superior State athletic director who gave him his start in coaching, playing golf or catching fish or even playing games with his family, he was a fierce competitor.

Mason hated losing and it drove him to be successful in most every aspect of his life.

Mason, who passed away Monday morning at age 76, was passionate about life and the challenges it brought. And he loved to compete, to be the best. He wasn’t perfect but he worked hard at life.

About 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of playing in Michigan State’s then-annual Broomball charity game at Munn Arena, matching Spartan players against the Legal Eagles, a team of local attorneys, headed up by district court judge Charles Filice.

We were on skates in full uniform and I was on an honorary all-media forward line for the Legal Eagles. The Spartans regularly won but it was a great event and proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lansing.

On this night, however, the Legal Eagles somehow upset MSU by a goal or two. The Spartan players laughed it off as a fluke. But in the handshake line, I’ll never forget Coach Mason’s message to the victors.

“You better enjoy this because it’ll never happen again,” Mason said. And he wasn’t smiling.

The next season, the Spartans won. Tradition was restored.

Read more of Neil’s memories of Ron Mason at

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