NIU Hall of Fame to induct six members

By Molly Statz

The NIU Hall of Fame starts its 12th year, since its inception in 1978, by inducting six former student-athletes Oct. 15.

The inductees include Laura Cooper (1964-68), Diane Hillard (Sembell) (1971-74), Larry Johnson (1971-74), Scott Kellar (1982-85), Chuck Kittleson (1954-58) and Sam Smith (1938-41, 1948.)

This year’s class is adding two members to its “sibling” Hall of Fame. Both Larry Johnson and Scott Kellar had older brothers who were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The last siblings to be inducted were in 1984.

The inductees will be honored at halftime at the Homecoming Game on Saturday. The game against the Universtiy of Pacific starts at 1:05 pm.

The NIU Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet will preceed the game. Friends, fans, Northern Illinois alumni and the public are invited to attend the dinner. Tickets for the chicken kiev dinner will be $25 each. A social hour will begin at 6 p.m followed by the dinner at 7 p.m.

First of the inductees is Laura Cooper of DeKalb. Cooper participated in badminton, basketball, field hockey, softball and volleyball between 1964-68. She completed four years as a basketball forward with a career scoring record of 389 points and broke the old Huskie women’s mark of 284 points. In the 1965-66 season she scored her game career high of 30 points against Northwestern.

Cooper also starred at center-half in field hockey as a sophomore and junior. She capped the latter season with First-Team All-Midwest honors from the U.S Field Hockey Association Sectional Tournament system in 1966.

In softball she was a three year regular as a pitcher and shortstop. She boasted a .357 career batting average, including the team’s best, .429, as a junior (1967).

Next is Diane Hillard (Sembell), of Alexis, Ill., for her achievements in volleyball, basketball and track during 1978-82. Hillard lettered in basketball for four years, and track and volleyball for two.

Hillard was named Northern Illinois SportsWoman of the Year in 1982. She also was the Mid-American Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winner with a GPA of 3.97. Hillard also was selected for the National Dean’s list as a pre-med major for her final six semesters (1979-82).

In basketball she hit her career high of 16 points on 8 of 11 from the floor and led NIU to a 75-61 victory vs. Marquette in (1981-82). In track she competed in the pentathalon and set the NIU 800-meter record (2:19.7) at the NIU Roadrunner Invitational in 1979.

Third is Larry Jonhson who participated in wrestling at the 150, 158 and 167 weight levels from 1971-74. He was a three-time Huskie Most Valuable Wrestler and National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship qualifier.

In 1972 Johnson gained Division I All-American status by placing fifth in the NCAA Championships at the

158-pound weight class. He also finished seventh at 150 pounds in the 1973 NCAA Championship as a junior.

Fourth is Scott Kellar of Roselle, for his participation on the 1982-85 football team as defensive tackle. Kellar led the Mid-American Conference in tackles-for-loss and ranked seventh nationally as a junior.

He also was named Huskie defensive MVP, MAC Defensive Player of the Week vs. Central Michigan, First Team All-MAC and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American in 1985.

Kellar ranks as the third highest National Football League draft pick in NIU history. He was picked in the fifth round by the Indianapolis Colts in 1986. Kellar won 16 starts as an NFL rookie before being placed on injured reserve five games into his second year.

He was a free agent with the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings and the Canadian Football League Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring.

Chuck Kittleson of DeKalb is fifth on the list of inductees for his achievements in Golf durring 1954-58. Kittleson joins former teammates Mike Spinello (1957-60) and Don Wegrzyn (1956-60).

Kittleson led NIU with a 74.1 medal average and an 8-1-1 match-play record his freshman year. He then produced a perfect 13-0-0 match-play record and topped the Huskies with a 75.8 strokes per round average in 1957-58.

Last but not least, Sam Smith will join the the Hall of Fame for football and baseball during 1938-41 and in 1948. Smith was a three-year regular at quarterback and a triple-threat southpaw passer, runner and blocker in the Huskie T-formation.

Smith was a two-time recipient of the Cullen Keefe Award as the Northern Illinois MVP in the 1940-41 season.

Smith served the country as a U.S. Air Force pilot and retired as a Lt. Col. He flew a B-17 during World War II, a B-29 in the Korean War and a C-23 cargoplane in Vietnam.