The University of Minnesota “M” Club, one of the nation's largest and oldest varsity letterwinner clubs, today announced its 2017 Hall of Fame induction class. Headlined by NCAA champions, All-Americans and well-known names from professional sports, this year's cohort includes nine alumni athletes and former coaches representing nine different varsity programs. These new additions will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during the “M” Club Hall of Fame banquet on October 12 in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium.
“Earning a letter as an athlete at the University of Minnesota is a distinction that brings with it lifelong pride and memories for any who reach that level of accomplishment,” said “M” Club Director George Adzick. “To be inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame is to be distinguished as extraordinary from a group of thousands of exceptional peers. Induction into the Hall of Fame is one of the most significant honors a former student-athlete can receive from the University, and I am proud to welcome into that select group our very deserving 2017 induction class.”
The M Club Hall of Fame Class of 2017, listed alphabetically by last name, includes:
- 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, three-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Including this year's class, the Hall of Fame recognizes 354 inductees as some of the greatest and most-accomplished Gophers in history while also celebrating the legacy of all letterwinners and their contributions to the success of Gopher Athletics for more than a century. Every member of the “M” Club Hall of Fame has his or her name prominently displayed as visitors enter the T. Denny Sanford Athletics Hall of Fame inside TCF Bank Stadium.
New inductees are nominated by a research committee that thoroughly reviews the accomplishments of hundreds of Gopher alumni from all eras. Approximately two dozen finalists appear on each year’s Hall of Fame ballot, which is then distributed to former and current coaches, athletics administrators and all University letterwinners for a vote to determine who will be added to the Hall of Fame each year.
More information about each individual joining the “M” Club Hall of Fame in 2017 is included below, listed alphabetically by last name.
Shannon Beeler (Softball, 1996-99)
When she graduated from Minnesota in 1999, Beeler was not only the most accomplished power hitter in the history of the Gopher program, she was the greatest power hitter in conference history, owning the Big Ten’s career records for both home runs (43) and RBI (239). She also set what were then the program’s season records for home runs (14) and RBI (74) in 1998 on her way to earning First Team All-America recognition. Beeler wrapped up her career in 1999 by receiving the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The former Junior Olympic gold medalist went on to play two seasons of professional fast pitch softball after graduating.
Del Cerney (Men’s Swimming, 1989-92)
Cerney capped off a spectacular career for the Maroon and Gold in 1992 by repeating as the Big Ten’s 50-yard freestyle champion and then earning bronze at the NCAA Championships. By the end of the national meet his senior year, Cerney had picked up eight All-America finishes during his career. He was also a five-time Big Ten champ, highlighted by those consecutive crowns in the 50 free. In addition to his Gopher career, Cerney won the 1991 U.S. senior national title in 50-meter freestyle, becoming the first Gopher to win a senior national championship in more than two decades.
Steve Comer (Baseball, 1973-76)
Almost 40 years after pitching his final inning for the Gophers, Comer still remains the program’s all-time leader in both career wins (30) and complete games (25). His 30-9 career record with a 2.93 earned-run average is among the best in team history, numbers that include his dazzling, Big Ten-record 0.39 ERA during conference play in 1973. Comer was a two-time All-Big Ten selection who pitched for two Big Ten championship and three NCAA tournament teams before embarking on a seven-year MLB career.
Omar Douglas (Football, Track & Field, 1990-94)
While quite successful as a Big Ten sprinter, Douglas’ name is most often associated with breaking almost every program receiving record – game, season and career – during his time on the gridiron. Even today, Douglas’ 11 receiving touchdowns in 1993 remains the program’s single-season record, and his five touchdowns against Purdue that season is tied for the most in Big Ten history. He was named All-Big Ten that season before transitioning into track and field, where later that year he won the 1994 Big Ten indoor title in the 55-meter dash. Following his collegiate career, he played three seasons in the NFL.
Russ Fystrom (Men’s Gymnastics)
A three-time AAU national runner-up on pommel horse and the 1973 Big Ten champ in the event, Fystrom was an accomplished gymnast as a four-time letterwinner at Minnesota. His legacy grew when he joined the program’s coaching staff in the mid-70s, embarking on a 36-year coaching career that ended with his retirement following the 2016-17 season. While on staff, Fystrom helped coach 10 national champions, 74 Big Ten champions and 82 All-Americans. During that time, the Gophers won six Big Ten team titles and placed as high as second at the national meet.
Terri Jashinsky (Women’s Swimming, 1997-2000)
Jashinsky finished her swimming career at Minnesota as the second-most decorated athlete in program history, owning 12 All-America honors. While her individual accomplishments were magnificent, they also helped shape a championship program as she contributed to the Gophers’ first two Big Ten team championships in women’s swimming and diving. Jashinsky was a two-time First Team All-Big Ten honoree and the 1999 Big Ten champ in the 100-yard butterfly before earning silver in the same event the following year. Jashinsky received the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2000.
Jordan Leopold (Men’s Hockey, 1998-2002)
In a program with a history as steeped in tradition as Gopher Men’s Hockey, few show up as prominently and as often in the records as Leopold. The program’s fifth two-time All-American, Leopold capped his career in 2002 by helping the program win its fourth NCAA national title and becoming Minnesota’s fourth Hobey Baker Award winner. A three-time All-WCHA honoree and two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, Leopold went on to play for five U.S. national teams, including the 2006 Olympic team, in addition to a 12-year NHL career.
Adam Steele (Men’s Track & Field, 2001-04)
Becoming an NCAA Champion is an exceptional accomplishment, but Steele’s 2003 NCAA title in the 400-meter dash remains one of the greatest in Gopher history. Steele’s time at NCAAs, 44.57 seconds, was the world’s fastest in 2003 and remains one of the 10 fastest in NCAA history. His title was the first outdoor track championship for a Gopher in 32 years and Minnesota’s only NCAA outdoor sprint championship ever. That achievement stands out among many in Steele’s career, one in which he was a seven-time All-American, a six-time Big Ten champion, an Academic All-American and the 2004 recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Off campus, Steele ran for the U.S. on multiple national teams, notably the 2003 World Championships.
Lindsay Whalen (Women’s Basketball, 2000-04)
If there’s a record kept for Gopher women’s basketball, Whalen is likely among the first names on that list. She held the program’s career records for points, scoring average and free throws made for 12 years and still ranks second in all three. Whalen is also second in career assists and in the top 10 in at least eight other statistical categories. Whalen is the program’s only three-time All-American and led the team to its first-ever Final Four appearance in 2004. She has also enjoyed a decorated professional and international career. She is the winningest player in WNBA history, helping the Minnesota Lynx win three WNBA titles, and has won two Olympic gold medals and two World Championship golds playing for Team USA.
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