NIU Athletics inducts 2017 Hall of Fame class

NIU Athletics inducts 2017 Hall of Fame class

By Krystal Megan

The Duke Ellington Ballroom was filled with past and present student-athletes, alumni and members of NIU Athletics, as the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was inducted Friday.

The inductees included Dee Abrahamson, who has the most wins as softball head coach in school history from 1980 to 1994 and athletics administrator from 1995 to 2011, Steve Azar, who played football from 2000 to 2003, men’s gymnast Mark Goodson, 1976 to 1980, Ed Kositzki, men’s soccer player from 1969 to 1971, Angela Lockett, women’s basketball player from 1990 to 1992 and 1993 to 1995 and Garrett Wolfe, former running back from 2004 to 2006.

The event opened with a video collage of past and present athletes and then a brief introduction of the inductees.

The Silverettes performed a dancing montage on stage, while the marching band joined them on the right side of the room.

Former football quarterback Chandler Harnish and former women’s basketball player Marke Freeman introduced an in-memoriam video that honored members of NIU Athletics who have died.

{{tncms-inline account=”NIUNorthernStar” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Congratulations to the Hall of Fame class of 2017 and to all NIU female athletes for all of their success with winning the Jacoby Trophy!</p>— Northern Star (@NIUNorthernStar) <a href="">October 7, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”916499301429403650″ type=”twitter”}}

Each of the six inductees were introduced with a brief description of their past success as an NIU athlete.

Azar told the story of his first game as a Huskie when he missed a field goal and an extra point attempt. He said formerHead Coach Joe Novak told him as he walked back to the sideline not to miss anymore, and Azar did not miss a field goal for the rest of the season and only missed one extra point attempt.

“My experiences here at NIU have been amazing, and I can’t ever ask for more,” Azar said. “I got my college degree [and] I got to be a part of five great football teams. I made a lot of friends on and off the field, but most of all what I’m proud of is to call myself a Huskie — a Northern Illinois Huskie — and for the rest of my life I will always be thankful.”

Goodson said one of the programs he was recruited by was the University of Nebraska, and gave the crowd a good laugh when he talked about the football team’s win in Lincoln, Nebraska Sept. 16.

Although men’s gymnastics is no longer a program at NIU, Goodson is still grateful for his time as a student-athlete.

“After hearing all the accomplishments of the inductees and all the accomplishments of the previous Hall of Famers, I’m very humbled to be with such a select group,” Goodson said. “The university was fantastic to our program, and I’m really honored to be an athlete from Northern Illinois.”

Lockett thanked her childhood friends for building her competitive spirit, the coaches and teammates she’s had and the fans, especially the Doederlein family, for being supportive of the women’s basketball program.

“[They’re] forever in my heart when I think about the support system and the friendship here at NIU,” Lockett said.

Wolfe said he took pride in knowing the football program worked harder than any school in the country, and they did it their way, referring to the team’s mantra “The Hard Way.”

“Doing more with less was kind of our thing,” Wolfe said. “We didn’t have the beautiful facilities we now have on this campus, but we were able to get a lot done and a lot accomplished. Doing more with less, or rather the perception of doing more with less, is what brings me here today.”

{{tncms-inline account=”SeanTFrazier” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What an absolutely fantastic night celebrating our 2017 Hall of Fame Class! Congrats leaving your legacy! <a href="">#TraditionNeverGraduates</a> <a href="">#NIU</a> ☺️👍🏽 <a href=""></a></p>— Sean T. Frazier (@SeanTFrazier) <a href="">October 7, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”916502961806823424″ type=”twitter”}}

Current student-athletes were also celebrated, as some of the women’s programs joined together on stage with the Jacoby Trophy. Hope Schmelzle-Hoffman, former NIU cross country and track & field star, introduced the female athletes and coaches to the stage. Schmelzle-Hoffman became NIU’s first track & field All-American last season.

Schmelzle-Hoffman said she enjoyed being able to experience this part of NIU’s history, and she was honored to introduce the Jacoby Trophy.

“Last year and in previous years you’re seeing [them] bringing together that culture and NIU’s women’s programs to that level,” Schmelzle-Hoffman said. “It really is a culmination of so many people and so many years of hard work.”

The women’s programs were followed on stage by this year’s inductees and a few members of NIU Athletics to close out the event.