NIU sports ’08-’09 accomplishments


Can you feel it, NIU? Temperatures are up, the sun is out and I can almost taste the brats.

Summer is nearly here.

The flip side is that another summer brings the end of another year of NIU sports and the inevitable evaluations of how the school’s programs fared.

Instead of handing out grades and spouting out statistics, I instead would like to reflect on just what the Huskies were able to accomplish, much of which, based on attendance, you may have missed.

Whenever anyone looks back on the 2008-09 athletic year, the highlight will always be Larry English being drafted at No. 16 overall in the NFL draft. When I came to NIU for the first time, the only image I had in my head was of the giant Huskie head in the middle of Brigham Field, peering up at me on ESPN2. I had images of racing Garrett Wolfe down Lucinda. Oh yes, NIU was a football school in every way.

That’s why it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that English is the only player that NIU has ever had drafted in the first round.

It’s no secret that a typical NIU student’s attention span regarding sports begins and ends with football, though.

NIU got a shiny new soccer complex and the men’s soccer team christened it with all the trappings of a MAC powerhouse program. If I had to wager, I’d say no more than five students knew that NIU had a nationally ranked team this year, as it rose to No. 23 after taking down No. 2 SMU.

Or how about sophomore gymnast Holly Reichard being named MAC gymnast of the year?

I remember personally covering one of the most exciting basketball games I’ve seen when the NIU women’s basketball team took a national powerhouse team, Bowling Green, to overtime. The only problem was that I was sitting at the media table. There was next to nobody sitting in the stands.

I overhear a lot of students talking about how bad NIU sports are. I would contest, however, that even if the students view NIU as a football school, the Huskies’ football success does not equal the Huskies’ athletic success. We have good programs coming back next year and standout athletes not named Larry; you just have to know where to look.