Bloguin's The Crystal Ball Run blog has been hard at work this week cranking out a series of posts this week previewing the upcoming 2013 Mid-American Conference football season. The Crystal Ball Run staff makes its conference championship picks, names its all-conference teams and ranks the strengths of schedules. There is an interesting post on the future relationship of the MAC and Big Ten and a podcast breaking down this year's season.
You can meet the league's new coaches, including NIU head coach Rod Carey and CBR breaks down the top 10 #MACtion games for 2013. The Huskies make three appearances on the list, including the top two.
Northern Illinois senior student-athletes Lauren
Eberts (women's soccer), Samantha Grams (volleyball), Shaakira Haywood (women's
basketball), Jenelle McCalla (track & field) and Amanda Sheppard (softball)
have been honored as 2013 Outstanding Women Student Awards for their
contributions to Northern Illinois University. Awarded annually since 1980, the
honor is given by the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women to 48
women across all disciplines.
Eberts, who has a 3.762 GPA in public health, played in every minute of the team's 2012 season. The senior defender helped NIU allow the fewest goals in the Mid-American Conference and the second-fewest shots on goal in NIU's program history.
Grams maintains a 3.805 GPA as a health sciences major. The Forest Park, Ill., native earned Academic All-MAC honorable mention laurels during her senior campaign with the Huskies after playing in 24 matches and 62 sets in 2012. Grams totaled 28 kills, 39 blocks and 14 digs during the year, scoring 48 total points during the season.
Haywood has a 3.687 GPA in psychology. She played in all 30 games, starting 12 at center in 2012-13 and has played in 37 straight games dating back to February of 2012. Haywood scored a career-high 73 points, averaging 2.4 points a game, shooting 43.3 percent (26-60) on the season.
McCalla, who has a perfect 4.0 GPA in psychology, holds the NIU school record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:01.76. This year, the Whitby, Ontario, Canada, native qualified for the MAC Indoor Championships in the 60 hurdles, while also contributing on NIU's 4x400 relay teams.
Sheppard has a 3.495 GPA in kinesiology and helped the Huskies reach the 2013 MAC Championship game. The Oak Forest, Ill., native batted .298 and ranked second on the team with a .470 slugging percentage, while playing in all 57 games. Sheppard also was second on the team with 18 extra-base hits, including a team-best 12 doubles and five home runs.
Northern Illinois graduate student and Huskie Media
Relations graduate assistant Michael Benson returns to ESPN UNITE: The Schwab
Wednesday at 11 p.m. CT to take part in the semi-final round.
Benson will take on Mississippi's Ryan Smith, the Southeastern Conference's winner, and Penn State's Daniel Smith, the champion from the Big Ten. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Bristol, Conn., for the finals at ESPN's headquarters.
"The semi-finals should be quite a challenge," Benson said. "It was nice to get out of the first round with a win, but now the questions and the competition will be better. I've been doing what I can to prepare, but it ultimately comes down to getting questions that fit your strengths."
The sport management major clinched a berth in the semi-finals April 10 by winning the Mid-American Conference title over students from Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Benson got four points out of the first round, which asked the contestants to name the top 15 NFL career leaders in rushing yards. After stumbling on the pop culture question, he all but clinched the win by scoring five points in the college sports round question that asked contestants to name the members of the Pac-12 Conference.
"I really struggled in the pop culture and social media rounds the first time out," Benson said. "If I have any chance of moving on to the finals, I'll have to do considerably better in both of those categories."
The winner from the third semi-final will take on Michael Smith of Utah and Taylor Smith of Maryland.
Calderon, who retired from NIU in 2008, was a fixture at Northern Illinois home and away football games for many, many seasons. In addition to operating the public address and music systems during games, he was responsible for the coaches' headset communications both home and away. At head coach Joe Novak's request, Calderon would set up "music" (often the opposing teams' fight songs, crowd noise and band played on a loop) to be blared at footbal practice during the week to simulate the other team's stadium atmosphere. On road trips, he would spend time illustrating post cards which he would then send to his many friends.
Calderon graduated from Northern Illinois in 1982 and was active in designing, installing and maintaining audio/visual systems around campus in addition to working with the football team. Read much more on Calderon, here. A memorial service was held Wednesday, May 8, in DeKalb.