CAROLYN STRANSKY, Staff Writer
Alumni, coaches, faculty, and current student athletes alike gathered for the 47th annual dinner and induction ceremony for John Fitzpatrick ‘93, Geoff Bailey ‘96, Stephanie Mueller ‘01 and Zac Freudenburg ‘01to the Athletic Hall of Honor on Saturday Feb. 4.
The evening commenced with plenty of mingling and money spent at the cash bar. Former inductee roamed around, reminiscing about their time on top and what it’s like to be back at Beloit. “It’s not as great as being inducted yourself, but John Fitzpatrick was my teammate, so it’s nice to see him get inducted tonight,” said Bryant Fillon’96, Hall of Honor member.
“I had attended this when I was a junior, then I got inducted into this, and now I’m on the committee that chooses the people who get inducted into this,” said Erik Quamme’96, member of the Hall of Honor and the Athletic Hall of Honor Selection Committee.
As the conversations began to dwindle, Peggy Carl, director of athletics and recreation, asked everyone to take their seats. Carl introduced the night with a short speech about this significant event. “This is such a special night. We really get to honor these special people, hear their stories, and see how athletics influenced their lives and how they became Beloit’s best of the best,” she said.
After dinner was served, Carl returned to the stage, speaking to what it takes to be inducted into the Hall of Honor. The present members rose to be recognized.
Each 2012 Hall of Honor inductee was introduced by their past coach, received their placard from the president and made a brief acceptance speech.
Ed DeGeorge, former head football coach, director of athletics, and Hall of Honor Inductee 2011, started with a speech about inductee John Fitzpatrick’93. “He was arguably the best center I have ever coached” DeGeorge said. “He demanded of himself greatness, and he demanded it from those who played beside him… They didn’t resent him for that, they responded.”
Although he did not write a speech beforehand, Fitzpatrick used the opportunity to thank his family, his teammates, his coaches and the college. “We’ve always played for our coach… That’s a Beloit thing. You play for your coach because they were a part of everything,” Fitzpatrick said. “These guys looked after us, and they pushed us to excellence. We played for them because they cared about who you were as a person–not just what you did on the field.”
Dave DeGeorge, head baseball coach, was up next to introduce Geoff “Bump” Bailey’96, commending him on his mental and physical toughness and his maturity. “He’s the most mature player that I’ve ever coached,” he said. “That level of maturity made him unique, especially as an 18-year-old boy.”
Bailey took the stage to thank his coaches, family and tell the story of his recruitment trip to Beloit. “I felt so comfortable [at Beloit],” said Bailey. “We cancelled all our other trips, I went back to my home in Kentucky and called the other coaches I had contact with to tell them that I was going to Beloit.”
Brian Bliese, head track & field coach and cross country coordinator, introduced his star thrower Stephanie Muller’01 and thanked her for bringing him to Beloit. “No one, male, female, any athlete I’ve ever coached had as fierce of a competitive nature as Steph did,” he said.
Along with Bliese, Bret, a former assistant coach from 2001-2002, went up to speak on behalf of Muller. “She really showed me how tough a competitor could be,” he said when comparing Muller to the Division I athletes he coached at Virginia Tech.
Muller was honored, and told the story of how she got involved with throwing the weight and hammer, her two favorite events. “One day I was throwing and something clicked… and I realized I could compete at the national level,” she said. “From that moment on I was hooked, and I wanted more.”
The final inductee, Zac Freudenburg’01, unfortunately could not make it because he is currently living in the Netherlands. Dave Eckburg, head cross country coach and assistant track & field coach, spoke to Freudenburg’s accomplishments regardless. “He will be remembered as one of the best distance runners in this conference from the past century,” said Eckburg. “The amazing thing is that his post-college accomplishment are almost more impressive than what he did here.”
Each speech was complete with a standing ovation from the audience in attendance. Everyone (besides the current student athletes, unfortunately) was then invited to an “after party” hosted at the Alumni House.