Dr. Mark Solem's Sun Devil Story
By Maggie Emmons, Assistant Director of Sports Information
Many people can agree that adolescence is a special part of life. In that short period of time a person usually grows and develops the most. You walk into grade school as a child and emerge from high school teetering on adulthood. College is similar, as many enter carrying a bottle of mixed emotions, filled with ambition, anticipation and excitement. Many people can relate to this experience, one of them being Arizona State University alum, Dr. Mark Solem.
Dr. Solem, a native of Chicago, moved to Scottsdale before he was two years old and has lived here ever since. After graduating from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Dr. Solem chose to follow in the footsteps of his family and attend ASU.
“My parents always had ASU football tickets so I ended up going to a lot of games with them,” recalled Dr. Solem. “There was really no doubt. Both my parents went to ASU it seemed like when I graduated high school there was no other spot than ASU. It’s maybe more now, but there’s at least 17 members of my family who have degrees from ASU, it’s just the only school that anybody would go to.”
Education was a big priority for Dr. Solem so he pursued a career in medicine. Initially he wanted to become an oral surgeon, but after witnessing first-hand the hectic nature of the emergency room while working at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, he realized the need for a doctor to be versatile and chose to become a general physician.
After earning a degree in zoology from ASU, Dr. Solem went on to medical school at the University of Arizona then to study emergency medicine at UCLA. Although he has ventured all over the Pac-12 South Division, he knows where his true loyalty lies – with the Sun Devils.
“To be honest I couldn’t find one building on UA’s campus, even today, whereas I know every building on ASU’s campus because I walked by them every day,” said. Dr. Solem. “I have thousands of memories about ASU versus almost none from UA and UCLA, minus the hospitals. I was 17 years old, first time I moved away from home, I went and lived on ASU’s campus. You just can’t duplicate that four year period.”
Dr. Solem has owned Sun Devil football season tickets since 1984 and he and his family may have the best seats in the House of Heat, as they sit on the 50-yard-line in the loge. Eight of the tickets in Section 106 belong to the Solem family, including Dr. Solem and his wife Barb, their son Dr. Casey and his wife Sarah, and their daughter Erin Leon and her husband Jose. In addition to awesome seats, the Solems have a serious tailgate spot in the parking lot north of Sun Devil Stadium, where Sun Devil football legend sightings are not uncommon, with the likes of Jake Plummer and Juan Roque roaming around at times.
“I just love the excitement of a football game in Sun Devil Stadium,” Dr. Solem smiled. “I love the video where Sparky steps on the bus from the visiting team. There’s so much pageantry that goes with all that. I go out of my way to be there every time to watch all those things. There’s something about having the band playing, seeing the student section basically jumping around the majority of the game, you can’t get that in very many places. It’s just so fun. What other place in the country would you have to put a sign up to remind people that you can’t bring a pitchfork to the game?”