A capacity crowd filled the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday night to welcome nine new inductees into the "M" Club Hall of Fame. This new class represented nine different Gopher programs and brought the total number of Gopher greats recognized in the "M" Club Hall of Fame to more than 350 - 354, specifically.
"Tonight is about our Hall of Fame, but it's also about celebrating the legacy of every letterwinner in our history. Your achievements and sacrifices are the foundation of our athletics department and our success," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Those we are honoring tonight played a big part in building that legacy. You are some of the greatest Gophers in our history, and it is my honor to see all of you enshrined in our Hall of Fame."
While welcoming nine new members to its Hall of Fame, the "M" Club also recognized contributions made to Gopher Athletics by two non-student-athletes, honoring the pair with Honorary Letters. The first was presented to Dr. Pat Smith, who served as a team physician for the athletics department for more than three decades, notably with the football and wrestling programs. The second was presented to Billy Soule, long-time supporter of Gopher Baseball and president of the program's booster group, the Dugout Club.
After the presentation of letter jackets to Smith and Soule, the program turned to Hall of Fame inductions. This year's class included:
- Shannon Beeler (Softball) - All-American, two-time All-Big Ten, finished career as Big Ten's career leader in both home runs and runs batted in.
- Del Cerney (Men's Swimming) - Eight-time All-American and five-time Big Ten champion, won 1991 U.S. senior national title in 50-meter freestyle, the first senior-level national championship for a Gopher in more than 20 years.
- Steve Comer (Baseball) - Two-time All-Big Ten, remains program's all-time leader in wins and complete games, went on to enjoy a seven-year MLB career.
- Omar Douglas (Football, Men's Track & Field) - Big Ten champ and two-time NCAA qualifier in track, All-Big Ten in football while breaking almost every program receiving record before playing three seasons in the NFL.
- Russ Fystrom (Men's Gymnastics) - Big Ten champion as a Gopher student-athlete, 36-year career on Gopher coaching staff following career as gymnast.
- Terri Jashinsky (Women's Swimming) - 12-time All-American, the second-most in program history at that time, and Big Ten champ. Member of the program's first two Big Ten championship teams.
- Jordan Leopold (Men's Hockey) - 2002 Hobey Baker Award winner, two-time All-American (fifth in program history), 2006 U.S. Olympian and five-time national team member, played 12 years in NHL.
- Adam Steele (Men's Track & Field) - 2003 NCAA Champion (400 meters), becoming program's first NCAA outdoor champion in more than 30 years and only sprint national champion ever, seven-time NCAA All-American, six-time Big Ten champion.
- Lindsay Whalen (Women's Basketball) - Three-time All-American, four-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist.
The "M" Club oversees the athletics department Hall of Fame as the school's varsity alumni club. The "M" Club has long been one of the oldest and largest varsity alumni organizations in the country, with a history dating back more than a century. With the long and successful history of Gopher Athletics, the Hall of Fame has plenty of student-athletes, coaches and administrators to honor. The Hall of Fame includes men and women from all of those categories, stretching back to the earliest days of Gopher Athletics in the 1880s.
The T. Denny Sanford Athletics Hall of Fame, which is located inside the John and Nancy Lindahl Premium Entrance at TCF Bank Stadium, features Gopher Athletics memorabilia from throughout the school's athletics history. Just inside the Hall of Fame doors, its membership has their names added to a wall honoring legends from all eras of Gopher Athletics. The public is welcome to visit the Hall of Fame before and after Gopher football games and during special events.
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