Star-athletes receive special recognition

By Alex Rodriguez

DeKALB — The final athletic award celebration of the year was Tuesday at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., for the eighth annual Victors Awards.

The ceremony showcased the talents and overall performance of NIU Athletics on and off the field for the 2016-2017 season.

Everyone who attended looked extravagant, and the event definitely had an Oscars feel to it as the student-athletes were being dropped off to a red carpet where pictures were being taken, making them feel like famous actors going into the Kodak Theatre.. Some student-athletes and coaches who were in attendance included senior volleyball outside-hitter Mary Grace Kelly, Mark Montgomery, men’s basketball head coach and Lisa Carlsen, women’s basketball head coach.

The festivities began an hour before the award show with a red carpet leading into the theater and the main lobby area, followed by a section where student-athletes could take pictures with their friends, coaches, tuxedoed mascot Victor E. Huskie and a bow-tied Mission.

Brad Hoey, NIU Marketing and Communications specialist, hosted the show, and he made his presence known with jokes, setting the tone for the show.

Before he appeared onstage, a goofy music video of various NIU athletic teams dancing and lip syncing to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” played for the audience.

The comedy did not stop there as another video titled “NIU Bad Joke Challenge” pitted different athletes against each other in a test of wits and giggles.

The challenge was student-athlete versus student-athlete, and whoever told the funniest bad joke won.

After the joking subsided, the awards were announced a sophomore softball pitcher Alex Frenz and freshman wrestler Brock Hudkins won Newcomers of the Year, while Huskie Comeback of the Year was given to junior gymnast Katherine Prentice.

Play of the Year, which was voted on during the awards show, was given to senior wrestler Trace Engelkes for his pin at the NCAA Championships.

Volleyball Head Coach Ray Gooden won Coach of the Year for women’s sports, and wrestling Head Coach Ryan Ludwig won Coach of the Year for women’s sports, as both coaches led their programs to record successes in their respective 2016-2017 seasons.

Players of the Year went to Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay and women’s basketball guard Ally Lehman, who had more tricks up her sleeve.

Lehman presented an award in attire that isn’t normal for her, as she went on stage in a pink prom dress, tiara and fairy wand.

Lehman said this was a planned outfit.

“I’ve done something every year,” Lehman said. “I had to come up with something new for this year.”