Dr. Kyle Goerl to serve as 2021 Homecoming Grand Marshal

Dr. Kyle Goerl, medical director of Lafene Health Center. (Deborah Adeniji | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State 2021 Homecoming Committee has selected Dr. Kyle Goerl, medical director of Lafene Health Center, as the Grand Marshal for this year’s celebration. In past years, this honor has gone to K-State alumni like former football captain Russell Hardin, Carl and Mary Ice — who now serve on the board of trustees — and former NFL player Jordy Nelson.

According to Amy Button Renz, president of the K-State Alumni Association, the role of Grand Marshal is given to members of the Wildcat community who exemplify the dedication and excellence that stand at the core of the university’s mission.

Dr. Goerl said his being chosen as Grand Marshal was an unexpected honor.

“I was surprised for sure but really humbled and honored,” Goerl said. “There are just so many people on campus who have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to keep us afloat and keep classes in session. I’m certainly happy to represent everybody who’s done so much and worked so hard after the last two years.”

Goerl, who joined Lafene in 2017, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska and his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. From there, he said he completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, specializing in both family and sports medicine.

Goerl was a collaborator on the publication, “Time from Start of Quarantine to SARS-CoV-2 Positive Test Among Quarantined College and University Athletes.” His work during the pandemic is part of the reason that the Wildcat community can proceed with traditions like the homecoming parade.

Renz said these efforts were a large part of why Goerl was selected.

“Dr. Goerl is a fitting Grand Marshal this year as he has contributed tremendously to K-State,” Renz said. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Goerl has put the well-being of the K-State student body, faculty and staff, and the entire Manhattan community at the forefront of his efforts. He has tirelessly worked to make K-State a better place, and the students recognized this dedication.”

This year is K-State’s 106th homecoming celebration, and its theme is “Lights, Cameras, ‘Cats.” This past year’s homecoming week was primarily virtual because of COVID-19 restrictions. Goerl said progress in lowering risks of transmission on campus has made this year’s celebration possible.

“We were in such a different place last year … there was a lot more unknown. Now we at least have some tools to combat the pandemic,” Goerl said. “These days we haven’t really seen spread from being outside at a parade or a football game. There’s just more freedom now that [the Delta variant] is on its way out and more people are vaccinated. I think we’re in a much more encouraging and positive place at this point.”

He said he is most excited to share the homecoming parade experience with his family, who has been alongside him in the year of chaos.

“I have to be honest, the best thing for me is going to be sharing the experience with my kids. I told my son he was going to get to ride in the car with me, and he was super excited,” Goerl said.

The parade will start at 5 p.m. on Oct. 29, kicking off at Manhattan Town Center and leading through Aggieville to the Homecoming pep rally in City Park.