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Published: Saturday, 10/2/2010

Wyoming player has support in Toledo

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Saturday is homecoming at the University of Toledo — a day for Rocket fans to catch up with old friends and long-seen family members before Saturday night's game against Wyoming.

Ironically, there will be Cowboy supporters doing the exact same thing.

The grandnephew of late Toledo surgeon Paul Geiger Sr., Wyoming left tackle Clayton Kirven is expected to have about 65 family members in attendance at the Glass Bowl rooting him on.

“It'll be good for the whole family to get together because we're not able to do it very often,” Kirven said. “It's nice that they all want to come out and watch you play, but at the same time, I have a game to play so I can't really partake in the festivities.”

Kirven's grandmother, Ellen Mary Kirven, and her sister, Mary Ellen Geiger, each had seven sons and two daughters after being raised on the south side of Chicago during the 1920s. The sisters eventually married, with Mary Ellen settling in Toledo with her husband.

“These two women are the matriarchs of this huge family,” said Dr. Paul Geiger, one of Mary Ellen's sons who helped set-up this family reunion. “They're both tough, competitive ladies and they'll both be at the game [tonight].”

The two families are now scattered across the country, but were to reunite in Toledo last night with dinner at The Beirut.

“We've never really had any sort of family reunion,” Dr. Geiger said, “but it just so happened that Clayton was playing at UT this season. We're having family members come in from Washington D.C., Indianapolis, Chicago, and of course, Wyoming.”

Although Dr. Geiger and his wife have been flying a Wyoming flag outside their Ottawa Hills home all week, there's sure to be members of the Geiger clan who will be sporting midnight blue and gold today.

Three of Dr. Geiger's siblings — Carrie, Doug, and Paul Jr. — graduated from UT and a fourth, Katie, works at University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio.

“We all grew up watching Bobby Nichols coach at the old Field House and going to the Glass Bowl to see Chuck Ealey and the undefeated teams,” Dr. Geiger said. “We'll always have a soft spot for the Rockets.”

The family has also kept a close eye on Wyoming this season. The Cowboys defeated Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl last year, but are off to a 1-3 start this season, with losses to Boise State, Texas, and Air Force.

UT, conversely, enters with a 3-1 record and riding a three-game winning streak.

“Wyoming has their work cut out for them,” Dr. Geiger said. “I know they had high expectations coming into this season, but they've played just a brutal schedule. It should be a great game.”

Contact Zach Silka at:zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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