Marion "Dutch" Niemants
Marion "Dutch" Niemants has been very influential in UNM athletics and is also one of the oldest living alumni lettermen. He lettered in Football and Track and was a member of the Ski Team as an athlete and trainer. Dutch was also a coach, avid supporter, and helped found the UNM Alumni Lettermen's Club. Because of these great accomplishments, we are honoring Dutch by inducting him into the UNM Alumni Lettermen's Athletic Hall of Honor.
Dutch was born in Albia, Iowa in 1914. He stayed there through his first year of college where he played football at Albia Junior College. After an outstanding year, he decided to transfer to Los Angeles Junior College. Once again after a successful year of football, he finally transferred to UNM in 1938 to continue his amazing football career and begin a loyal connection with the University of New Mexico.
Dubbed "the Flying Dutchman" by Albuquerque newspaper sportswriters because of his speed and impact on the Lobos during a time of leather helmets and no faceguards, Niemants packed 190 lbs and used it very astutely. Described by sportswriters as a "dependable fullback" and "UNM's main offensive threat" made him a prime candidate for the 1939 NFL draft where he was picked up in the 18th round by the Detroit Lions. He returned to UNM after one season in the NFL where he proceeded to take his speed and talent to the track. He also excelled on the ski slopes as a founding member of the ski team and the manager/trainer.
Niemants graduated from UNM in 1941 with a degree in Physical Education. After graduation he continued to give back to the University as head coach of the Freshman Football team for one year when they won three out of four games.
His life included much more than UNM. He is a family man, Veteran, official and a hard worker. He was husband to Dixie DeGraftenreid, also a graduate of UNM, father of two, Trina and Marilyn, grandfather and great grandfather. He was commissioned as a Captain in the Air Force and served three years in England during WWII.
Upon return from the Air Force, Dutch began officiating football games around the State of New Mexico. He realized a need for an organization to provide high schools and colleges with referees that had properly been trained in the rules so he helped found a state organization for officials. While officiating, he also began working at Standard Oil of California in Gallup, New Mexico for eight years before being transferred to Texas. He would eventually retire from California Standard Oil in 1972 and he is still a resident of the state of Texas.
Niemants' two daughters could not have said it better than when they said, "our father will be 95 years old this year and it would be such an honor for him, his two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren to have his honor bestowed upon him during his lifetime. He is a true lobo and exemplifies a great man who has lived his life setting an example for his family to follow.