Dec. 27, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. - Following a two-plus hour workout at Trienens Hall, the indoor practice facility at Northwestern University, on Sunday, the Northern Illinois football team heard from the state's number one fan as Governor Pat Quinn stopped by to wish the Huskies good luck in the upcoming International Bowl game versus South Florida. Northern Illinois will take on USF Saturday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. (CST) at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Quinn arrived at practice a few minutes after its conclusion and took the chance to congratulate the Northern Illinois players on their 7-5 season and second straight bowl trip with a special message to the Huskie players.
"Years from now you'll remember this time," Quinn said. "You'll remember your teammates. You'll remember everything about this season. It's a special season. You should treasure this time. Treasure the opportunity to be in a bowl game. It's a memory that will never go away.
"Teamwork, trying hard for things that are difficult to do, and never giving up; those are the things that are important in life. I, as governor of our state, am proud of the Northern Illinois Huskies. As governor of Illinois, I am declaring today Northern Illinois Huskie Day. All Northern Illinois fans and the entire state is behind you as you take on South Florida in the International Bowl. Do the best you can and have a great game."
A graduate of Fenwick High School in Chicago, Quinn also sought out fellow Fenwick alum and Huskie offensive tackle Panan Tense following his talk. After speaking to the team, he posed for photos with NIU players and coaches and visited with Northern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill.
Kill was extremely appreciative that Governor Quinn took the time to speak to the Northern Illinois team on Sunday.
"The governor's a very busy man. So, for him to come here on a Sunday and talk to our football team, it's a great honor and a great privilege," Kill said. "I'm very proud that we have an opportunity to go to back-to-back bowl games, the governor came here to visit with us and we're graduating 73 percent of our football student-athletes. We have a lot of good things going right now and I'm just appreciative to be a part of it."
The Huskies returned to practice after a three-day break for the Christmas holidays. Northern Illinois worked out at Northwestern's indoor field on Sunday due to a conflict at the DeKalb Recreational Center, where the team has held the rest of its bowl workouts. NIU also was able to take advantage of the larger space at Trienens Hall to work more on special teams, especially the kicking game.
"We're very thankful to Dr. [Jim] Phillips [Northwestern Director of Athletics] and the staff at Northwestern for allowing us to use this facility today," Kill said. "It's great for us to get the work in on the kicking game before we leave for Toronto."
Northern Illinois will practice at the DeKalb Rec Center Monday and Tuesday before departing for Toronto late Tuesday morning. Fans can still purchase tickets to the International Bowl through the NIU official athletics website at www.NIUHuskies.com. In addition, fans can purchase a donated ticket for just $20 which will be used to help send a Northern Illinois student or an underprivileged child from the Toronto area to the game.
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