Young football fans compete to meet Huskie team players


By Hany Abdel

Local schools have been battling it out to show off their Huskie pride during football season.

As part of NIU’s goal to form a communiversity with DeKalb, Athletics has come up with a way to involve the local school district: a NIU pride competition. District 428 middle and elementary schools have showed their support with NIU gear and by making Huskie signs, luring the undefeated football team to their schools for autographs and activities.

The season-long event began Oct. 12 and will end with the Nov. 26 game against Western Michigan. A winning middle and elementary school is chosen the week of each home game. Members of the team go to the school to sign autographs, answer questions and visit with the students.

Adam Kiel, graduate student for life skills and compliance and a former football player, helped organize the competition with Athletics. Kiel visits each school to judge the students’ Huskie pride.

“The competition might be an Athletics thing right now, but the whole idea is to collaborate with the community surrounding the university,” Kiel said. “President Baker’s big push is to involve the community in everything we do, so this is one example of how simple an example can be and yet how exciting the community can make it.”

Lincoln Elementary won the first week’s competition with NIU signs draped across the walls and students and staff wearing red and black. Principal Anna Hoyou connected the school’s theme “where everyday superheroes are discovered” to the competition.

“We tie it in to how [the students] can be the next heroes,” Hoyou said. “NIU benefits from it because younger kids look up to them as role models.”

Tim Vincent, former Huskie lineman and current Clinton Rosette Middle School principal, supports the importance of the Athletics initiative to connect with local schools.

“For me and the school, having Northern in our backyard is extremely beneficial,” Vincent said. “If we don’t have that mutual partnership, it would be a missed opportunity.”