Annual induction ceremony celebrates athletes


Annual induction ceremony celebrates athletes

By Krystal Megan

DeKalb — Football will not be the only event under bright lights on Homecoming weekend. NIU Athletics will induct its 33rd Hall of Fame class at the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame Friday.

The 33rd induction ceremony will honor six former NIU athletes for their performances on the playing field and the impact they had on the NIU athletic program. Sean T. Frazier, associate vice president and director of athletics, said the event honors the best-of-the-best in NIU athletics and is a great event for the university community.

“We have a spectacular program with lots of surprises planned for the Hall of Fame’s 33rd induction ceremony as we welcome the Class of 2017,” said Frazier, according to NIU Media Services. “I know our alums will be thoroughly entertained and very proud of their alma mater.”

The inductees include Dee Abrahamson, former softball head coach from 1980-94 and former NIU Athletics Administrator 1995-2011, former football kicker Steve Azar from 2000-03, former men’s gymnast Marc Goodson from 1976-80, Ed Kositzki, former men’s soccer player from 1969-70, Angela Lockett, former women’s basketball player from 1990-92 and 1993-95 and Garrett Wolfe, former football running back from 2004-06.

The event is free to the public and offers a cash bar before tothe start of the event. The Hall of Fame switched from being a dinner into an ESPYs-style event in 2013, as the committee looked to attract more people.

Rodney Davis, chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee, said changing the format of the event was a good decision and should attract more students.

“When you look at [the] 150 to 200 people of what it used to be like to now [400] or 500 people, something’s gone right,” Davis said. “I think anyone that’s been a part of it will say, ‘Wow, this is a lively event.’”

Davis said it was planned to have the event on Homecoming weekend because of the amount of people on campus, and the event is not drawn out so people will have time to do other things afterwards.

Rick Cerrone, an NIU alum and coordinator of the event, said the ceremony will include several surprises.

“I think if you were someone that has no knowledge of NIU Athletics and you came to this as a guest, you would enjoy it,” Cerrone said. “It’s a very enjoyable program.

Current athletes will also be celebrated, as Cerrone said there will be a major celebration of the Jacoby Trophy that was awarded to NIU’s women’s programs by the Mid-American Conference.

Teams helping out with production of the event include wrestling, gymnastics, women’s golf, baseball and others.

The event switched from being held annually to being held every other year after 2011. Davis said holding the event every two years allows it to build momentum, and it makes selecting the individuals inducted even tougher.

“It was a very grueling period to get down to the six individuals we have this year,” Davis said. “It was tough because there’s a lot of great names out there that aren’t in, as well as teams that aren’t in yet. That, again, makes for a very tough 2019 class.”

Cerrone said the first thing he recognized was NIU’s current financial situation. The event is largely funded by sponsorships and private donors. Cerrone declined to say how much money NIU Athletics has committed, but said it is a fraction of what the event would cost.

“We’re spending far less than we’ve ever spent,” Cerrone said. “I can honestly tell you we will have a bigger production than we’ve ever had spending a fraction of the money that we’ve spent in the past.”

Davis said he hopes everyone in the community comes out to celebrate the event.

“We would love to see a lot of the Huskie supporters, whether it’s football, basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of great programs that have done really well, and we’d like to see representation from all different sides. It’s going to be fun.”

The event will begin with a cocktail reception 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Duke Ellington Ballroom at the Holmes Student Center. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. following the cocktail reception.