2009 NIU Athletics Hall of Fame Class Announced
July 20, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. --- Northern Illinois Athletics will enshrine one team and five individuals into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 30, as part of the Huskies' festive, new football promotional date -- the Hall of Fame Weekend / Varsity Club Day -- this fall.
The formal Hall of Fame induction ceremony will once again take place in the Duke Ellington Ballroom at NIU's Holmes Student Center on campus, NIU associate vice president and athletics director Jeff Compher announced Monday.
The latest Hall of Fame roll call: The venerable, long-time radio play-by-play voice of the Huskies. One of the premier frontline "creators" in Northern Illinois men's soccer history. One of only two persons in the 107-year history of NIU Intercollegiate Athletics to climb the career ladder from student-athlete to head coach to athletic director at her alma mater. The women's volleyball program's initial first team All-Midwest selection and one of best-ever middle blockers. A College Division Little All-America grid selection with 1,132 all-purpose yards as a freshman. And the Huskies' first Mid-American Conference Tournament kingpin and NCAA Division I tourney entry in men's basketball.
Northern Illinois' 2009 induction class -- the 28th since the inception of the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978 -- features the 1981-82 men's basketball team, Bill Baker (Huskie Radio Network, 1980 to the present), Johan Bergseth (men's soccer, 1982-85), Cary Groth (tennis-basketball-head coach-athletics director, 1974-78 and 1981-2004), Cathy Holmes (Galloway) (volleyball, 1985-88), and Wes Luedeking (football-basketball-track-baseball, 1953-57).
"First and foremost, congratulations to our new Hall of Fame inductees," Compher said. "This may be only my second year here, but I have learned what a truly Cardinal and Black, tradition-rich, historic event that our Hall of Fame induction banquet is. The accomplishments of this group -- and all of our Hall of Famers -- are amazing. These feats are invaluable examples of success for our current NIU student-athletes.
"My staff and I are really excited about our new Hall of Fame Weekend / Varsity Club Day (Oct. 30-31)," Compher added. "With the blessing of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, we moved our Hall of Fame from the busy Homecoming weekend into its own weekend. Now our Hall of Fame induction stands on its own merits and can be promoted as the truly unique event it is."
Former Northern Illinois men's assistant basketball coach Dave Kaplan (1983-86), currently the host of "Chicago Tribune Live" weeknights on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and "Sports Central" weeknights on WGN-AM radio in Chicago, will serve as the HOF Induction Banquet emcee for the first time. Kaplan is subbing for Bill Baker, one of this October's inductees, who worked 23 consecutive years as HOF banquet emcee.
Fans, friends, all Huskie alums, and the general public are invited to attend the Induction Banquet on Friday evening. The gala night begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (CDT), followed by a buffet dinner at 7 p.m., and the induction program at 8 p.m. Tickets to the historic evening are $50 each, $35 for past inductees into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame. Table sponsorships -- seating eight individuals -- are available. To reserve your spot at the 2009 Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, please call 815-753-1923. For more information, contact Matt Mattmiller in the NIU Athletics Development Office via e-mail at email@example.com.
The new Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Famers will also be feted at halftime of the NIU-Akron football contest on Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium on Saturday, October 31. The kickoff time for the Mid-American Conference showdown is 11 a.m. (CDT). Tickets to the game can be ordered online at www.niuhuskies.com or by calling the NIU Athletics Ticket Office at 815-752-6800.
This year's Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee was chaired by former NIU sports information director Mike Korcek. The committee also included Cliff Bottigliero, Rodney Davis, Bill Finucane, Andrea Hein, Brad Hoey, Glen Krupica, Donna Martin, Dave Mason, Chuck Morgan, and Don Shields.
Northern Illinois University's 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees:
--- Baker (Chicago/Lane Tech) enters his 30th year this fall as the radio play-by-play voice of Northern Illinois football and basketball since 1980. His tenure on the Huskie Radio Network marks the longest such run in school history. Since 2005, Baker's distinctive call on the gridiron and hardwood could be heard in 38 states and Canada via 50,000-watt WSCR-AM in Chicago. Baker has covered several Northern Illinois Hall of Fame teams, including the MAC Postseason Tournament champs and historic NCAA men's quintet in 1981-82, the 10-2 California Bowl and Mid-American Conference champions in 1983, the NCAA College World Series softball appearance in 1988, and the North Star Conference champion and NCAA women's cagers in 1989-90, plus three other Huskie Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Inducted into the media wing of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in April, Baker also earned the Illinois High School Association Distinguished Service Award for Broadcasting in 1989. He currently doubles as the manager of advertising placement for the Class A baseball Midwest League Kane County Cougars. A reporter in the Chicagoland market since 1973, Baker estimates he has broadcast 1,000-plus prep contests and over 1,500 Huskie events. The U.S. Air Force veteran (1969-73) has emceed the NIU head coaches TV shows, 23 HOF banquets, press conferences, luncheons, and other Huskie events.
--- Bergseth (Oslo, Norway/Des Plaines/Arlington Heights Forest View) ranks as one of greatest "creators" in Northern Illinois men's soccer history. The 6-1, 176-pound midfielder / striker graduated No. 1 in career assists (23), No. 4 in career goals (34), and No. 4 in career points (91) as a member of the Huskies' fabled "Norwegian Van Line." He became the program's sixth All-America selection (third team National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 1984) as a junior and fourth NIU representative in the prestigious Senior Bowl Collegiate All-Star Classic as a senior (1985). A two-time Northern Illinois team captain (1984-85), Bergseth made first team All-Midwest Metroplitan Soccer Conference four consecutive campaigns (1982-85), first team All-Illinois (1982, 1984-85), second team All-Illinois (1983), first team NSCAA All-Midwest (1984-85), and second team All-Midwest (1983).
As a junior, Bergseth led head coach Jerry Collins' Huskies to a 13-5-1 record, the Midwest Metro team championship with a 5-0-0 league mark, and the school's historic, first-ever Illinois Governor's Cup title (1984). In his senior year, he exploded for three goals and one assist in a 5-0 NIU triumph over 17th-rated Houston Baptist (1985). As a senior exchange student at Forest View High School, he won All-Mid-Suburban League, All-Area, and All-State honors in soccer (1981). Bergseth "recruited" other countrymen for the Northern Illinois program and continues to help the Huskie program to this day. He served in the Norwegian Army and resides in Oslo.
--- Groth (Park Forest, Ill./Rich East) served her alma mater for 23 years as head coach (women's tennis in 1981-84), administrator (1984-94), and athletics director (1994-2004). Her meteoric rise began as a two-sport Northern Illinois letterwinner in tennis (1974-77) and basketball (1976-77) and culminated as AD -- one of only three women athletic directors at an NCAA institution with 1-A football at the time (1994). Her major achievements at NIU included (1) rejoining the MAC (1997-98), (2) making NCAA Certification (1995, 2000), (3) hiring and sticking with head football coach Joe Novak, (4) initiating the updated Huskie logo (2001), and (5) helping develop such capital facilities projects as the Huskie Stadium East Grandstand (1995) and its FieldTurf surface (2001), the Convocation Center (2002), Ralph McKinzie Field (baseball), Mary M. Bell Field (softball), and soccer complex. She served on the Secretary of Education's national Blue Ribbon panel on opportunity in athletics (2002-03), plus earned the ATALANTA Award (1997), Gen. Robert Neyland Achievement Award (2002), WBCA Administrator of the Year and NACWAA Division 1-A Administrator of the Year (2003).
Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal included Groth in its "Super 50: Women's Sports Executives (1998). In 1988, she assisted in the merger of the NIU men's and women's athletic departments. At Nevada, Groth's leadership has resulted in 13 WAC team championships in seven different sports. In 2006-07, UN won the WAC all-sports Commissioner's Cup trophy for the first time. A four-sport athlete at Rich East, Groth taught at Rich South and West Aurora. She is a "double" NIU graduate (1974 and 1999).
--- Holmes (Wilton, Conn./Wilton) developed into one of the region's and nation's premier collegiate middle blockers. Renown for her athletic ability, the 6-1 standout caught the attention of the American Volleyball Coaches Association membership as an upperclassman. Holmes gained first team AVCA All-Midwest honors as one of the top 12 performers in the region and, statistically, she ranked No. 6 nationally in blocking average (1.88) and No. 11 in hitting efficiency (.3988 percentage in 1988). As a junior, Holmes finished No. 13 in national blocking average (1.580). Under first-year head coach Pete Waite, she led Northern Illinois to the North Star Conference regular-season and tournament crowns, a 22-8 overall record, and a 13-match winning streak (1988). En route, she was named the North Star Most Valuable Player, first team All-NSC, NSC Player of the Week four times, plus team MVP and co-captain.
A four-year NIU letterwinner (1985-88), she completed her career with four single-season NIU records and four school career standards. Holmes led NIU in season kills (321 in 1987 and 408 in 1988) and total blocks (90 in 1986, 184 in 1987, and 202 in 1988). She graduated from Wilton High as a senior All-Stater after transferring from Arcadia (Ind.) Hamilton Heights High. A former assistant volleyball coach at Kalamazoo College, Holmes now coaches junior club ball and directs a junior level organization in Kalamazoo, Mich.
--- Luedeking (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) participated in four sports under several Hall of Fame coaches at Northern Illinois. The 5-7, 160-pounder lettered as a halfback on the gridiron (1953-54, 1956) and a guard on the hardwood (1953-54). He holds two unique distinctions -- as the school's (1) second Little All-America and (2) initial freshman team MVP in football. During NIU's Centennial observance (1999), he was honored on the 1950s All-Decade Team. Luedeking produced one of the most prolific rookie seasons in the Huskie annals with 1,132 all-purpose yards and led the Huskies in seven individual statistical categories (1953) -- (1) rushing (330 yards on 97 carries), (2) scoring (42 points on seven touchdowns), (3) receiving (24 catches for 247 yards and two TDs), (4) total offense (330 yards), (5) punt returns (nine for 261 yards and a 29.0 ypr. average), (6) interceptions (six for 53 yards and an 8.8 ypr. average), and (7) all-purpose yardage. His 24 receptions ranked fifth nationally in the College Division (1953).
For his efforts, he was named second team All-IIAC and honorable mention Williamson Service Little All-America, plus won the IIAC Academic Medal. In typical Luedeking fashion, he scored three TDs -- on a run, a reception, and a punt return -- vs. Eastern Illinois (11-21-53). In basketball, he averaged 4.5 ppg. in 12 games, plus tallied a career-high 16 points (6-of-7 from the floor) vs. Central Michigan (1953-54). His NIU career was shortened by a concussion. Luedeking taught for 37 years at Orangeville (Ill.) Grade School, Durand High (1965-66), and Freeport High (1966-96). He won 13 letters in four sports at Freeport High. In 2000, Luedeking ranked fifth on FHS's all-time "25 Greatest Athletes" list and also coached 10 others from that same list. He is also a "double" NIU grad in 1957 and 1971.
--- Northern Illinois' 1981-82 men's basketball ventured into unchartered territory by capturing the school's first major post-season conference tournament title and the school's initial berth in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championships. Mentored by John McDougal, the team survived a rigorous non-league schedule beating Big Ten rival Northwestern (77-70) and Notre Dame (70-65) -- and hit their stride in the MAC Men's Basketball Championship. The Huskies rallied to nip Ohio (70-68) in OT, and then outlasted Bowling Green State (67-66), and Ball State (79-75) in OT in the title game at Michigan's Crisler Arena to win the automatic bid. Matched against Big Eight runner-up Kansas State in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Dallas, Texas, NIU scored first, stayed close, and eventually succumbed (77-68). Allen Rayhorn (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Leonard Hayes (18 points) led the way.
Although the Huskies finished 16-14 overall, no Northern Illinois squad has ultimately featured four NBA draft picks -- Rayhorn (Seattle Supersonics), Tim Dillon (Chicago Bulls), Keith Gray (Washington Bullets), and Jon Collins (Denver Nuggets). The 1981-82 roster included two of the program's all-time career scorers (Rayhoorn with 1,848 points and Dillon with 1,559), two All-Americas (Rayhorn & Dillon), one Academic All-America (Dillon), and three individual NIU Athletics HOF inductees (McDougal, Rayhorn, and Dillon).
The letterwinners: Carl Armato (Rockford, Ill./Boylan), Jon Collins (East St. Louis, Ill./Cahokia), Tim Dillon (Franklin Grove, Ill./Franklin Center), Keith Gray (Flint, Mich./Central), Terry Green (Lockport, Ill./Lockport), Co-Capt. Leonard Hayes (Atlantic City, N.J.), Bruce Johnson (Aurora, Ill./West), manager Glen Krupica (Franklin Park, Ill./East Leyden), Ron Lindfors (Bensenville, Ill./Franklin Park East Leyden), Mike Padden (Geneva, Ill./Geneva), co-captain Allen Rayhorn (Rock City, Ill./Dakota), and manager Tom Tortorello (Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect).
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