Sept. 14, 2006
DeKALB, IL -- Imagine the greatest names in Northern Illinois University sports all in the same room at one time. Wall-to-wall, the All-Time Best of the Huskies -- team and / or individual. The ultimate Cardinal and Black event for the ages. A veritable Northern Illinois Hall of Fame "Who's Who" ranging from Jane Albright to Jerry Zielinski.
In conjunction with the City of DeKalb's Sesquicentennial observance (1856-2006), this fall NIU Intercollegiate Athletics will observe its historic 100th Homecoming football game along with a unique, one-of-a-kind Centennial Hall of Fame celebration on Friday-Saturday, October 20-21.
As usual, the formal Hall of Fame Induction Banquet ceremonies -- presented by Resource Bank -- will take place Friday evening at the Duke Ellington Ballroom in NIU's Holmes Student Center on campus, Northern Illinois Director of Athletics Jim Phillips announced.
NIU's 2006 induction class -- the 25th since the inception of the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978---includes Laurie Miller (softball in 1982-85), Jarod Schroeder (swimming in 1991-95), and Hollis Thomas (football in 1993-95). This distinguished Huskie trio encompasses one of the greatest softball mound strikeout artist in school history, a United States swimming qualifier for the Olympic Trials, Goodwill Games, and Pan Am Games, plus a ten-year National Football League veteran, an All-Pro rookie, and Super Bowl participant.
These "old" and new NIU Hall of Fame inductees will also be honored in the annual Homecoming parade in the morning and at halftime of the Northern Illinois-Temple University football game on Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff for the NIU-Temple contest is 2:05 p.m. (CDT).
"Our heartiest congratulations go out to our latest Hall of Fame inductees," Phillips said. "It's another well-deserving class. Their accomplishments are truly amazing and representative of the top-notch Northern Illinois student-athlete. They are truly marvelous role models for our current student-athletes.
"The 100th Homecoming celebration certainly is a significant milestone for our institution," Phillips added. "I know that our Hall of Fame Selection Committee, particularly chair Mike Korcek, has envisioned such a Centennial Hall of Fame reunion for several years. It should be a memorable event when all the Hall of Famers return to campus. We're looking foward to it and reliving all those tremendous Northern Illinois accomplishments."
Northern Illinois has the longest running major-college Homecoming tradition in the state, plus one of the oldest in the Midwest and the nation. Its origin dates back to a Huskie alumni football game on October 10, 1903, when the Northern Illinois State Normal School varsity blanked the alums, 6-0. The institution's first formal Homecoming happened on the weekend of October 12-13, 1906. On the NIU campus, the term "Homecoming" first appeared in the October, 1906, issue of the then monthly student newspaper. The first 11 Northern Illinois Homecoming football games were against alumni teams.
With the Centennial Hall of Fame observance and festivities, the "Class of 2006" was limited to three ex-Northen Illinois all-star student-athletes by the Selection Committee.
Known as "the strikeout queen of NIU softball," Miller (Rockford / Jefferson) literally pitched herself into the Huskie Record Book in four Northern Illinois seasons under head coach Dee Abrahamson during the early 1980s. The right-handed hurler tossed 24 career shutouts, including three no-hitters and a perfect game in a 5-0 triumph vs. DePaul in 1984, plus whiffed a then school-record 513 batters.
Miller earned team Most Valuable Player and First-Team All-Mid-American Conference honors as a senior (1985). She led the Huskies in earned run average three times (0.55 ERA in 1982, 0.37 in 1984, and 0.63 in 1985). At one point, Miller established the Northern Illinois single-game strikeout record (20 in a 13-inning game vs. Toledo in 1984), the single-season standard (187 in 1984), and the aforementioned career mark. Miller fanned 17 batters in seven innings vs. Northwestern (1984) and recorded her 500th "K" vs. Ball State (1985). Career-wise, she finished with a 40-31-3 mound record.
With national and international experience, Schroeder (PRONUNCIATION: SHRAY-der) might be the most prominent swimmer in Northern Illinois history. A four-year Huskie letterman for head coach Jeanne Fleck during 1991-95, he placed fifth in the 100-meter butterfly at the 1995 United States Senior Open and qualified for the 1996 U. S. Olympic Trials where he posted a lifetime-best 0:54.69 timing in the 100 butterfly.
In 1998, Schroeder (Morrison) placed seventh in the 100-meter freestyle at the U. S. Senior Nationals and made the United States squad for the Goodwill Games. He also placed fourth in the 200 butterfly at the 1998 Phillips 66 / U. S. National Championships and captured two Silver Medals for the U. S. in the 1999 Pan Am Games. As a Huskie, Schroeder was a three-time Conference Swimmer of the Year (Mid-Continent Conference in 1992-93 and 1993-94 and Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1994-95), won seven individual league titles, and set at least eight Northern Illinois records. The Illinois Swimming Association voted him the Male Swimmer of the Year in both 1993-94 and 1994-95.
A 10-season NFL veteran with the Philadelphia Eagles, Thomas (St. Louis, MO / Sumner) was acquired by the New Orleans Saints this past April. The six-foot, 306-pound defensive tackle made the Football News All-Rookie unit at the conclusion of his first pro season in 1996 and played in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots in 2005. In 126 career NFL appearances, Thomas has produced 377 tackles, 13.5 QB sacks, 10 pass deflections, eight fumble-cause hits, and six fumble recoveries. In 1996, he signed with the Eagles as a free agent.
During his Northern Illinois tenure, Thomas was selected to the First-Team All-Big West Conference squad by both the Football News and the league's coaches, plus team co-captain as a senior. In 1995, he finished No. 2 in team tackles for loss (11 for 26 yuards) and No. 3 in overall tackles (75) in his final year. Thomas notched a career-high 11 tackles vs. Southern Mississippi, 10 hits vs. 16th-rated Kansas State, and 10 stops vs. Utah State during his last campaign. As a junior, he made Second-Team All-Big West at nose guard. The three-year Huskie letterwinner recorded 202 career stops and 31 career tackles for 91 yards in losses (1993-95) for head coach Charlie Sadler.
The Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame originated in 1978 with the charter male induction class. After a four-year hiatus, the hall has enshrined a class every autumn since 1983. The NIU women's Hall of Fame started in 1986 and the two were integrated in 1988.
Past NIU Athletics Hall of Famers, fans, friends, alumni, and the general public are invited to attend the annual induction banquet on Friday (October 20). Contact Northern Illinois Sports Information DIrector Emeritus Korcek via telephone at (AC 815) 753-9559 or e-mail at .
This year's NIU Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee was chaired by former Assistant Athletics Director-Media Relations Mike Korcek and included Cliff Bottigliero, BIll Finucane, Andrea Hein, Glen Krupica, Donna Martin, Chuck Morgan, Don Shields, and Donald Whiteside.
-- MIKE KORCEK, SID Emeritus