Twelve years ago, Joe Tiller, Purdue's head football coach at the time, presented a challenge of forming one of the largest chapters in the National Football Foundation here in Northwest Indiana. Since receiving its charter in Tippecanoe County, the Northwest Indiana Chapter (which was renamed in 2007 the Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana) has enlisted more than 700 members, becoming the largest chapter in the state and the second largest in the nation at one point.
As a group of football-loving enthusiasts with the purpose of advancing amateur football at the local, state and national levels, the Joe Tiller Chapter of the NFF provides grassroots support in a many ways.
As a non-profit organization, this chapter has awarded more than $270,000 in grants, scholarships, honorariums and donations since receiving its charter in 2004. Awards nominations must be submitted to chapter director Jim Vruggink each year by the end of March.
This chapter offers scholarship opportunities for scholar athletes at 70 high schools in 17 Northwest Indiana counties (Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Fulton, Howard, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Miami, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White). Selection of the Scholar Athlete of the Year is based 40% on academic achievement, 40% football performance and attitude, and 20% leadership and citizenship. In addition to seeking donations and sponsorships to support the scholarship program, the chapter also receives money ($500 for every 50 dues-paying members in the local chapter) from the national office in Irving, Tex. In its first 12 years, this chapter has recognized 224 scholar athletes, awarding scholarships ranging in size between $200 and $5,000 individually.
In addition to the scholarships, the local chapter has been involved with youth programs such as the Dream Season (providing experiences for kids and young adults with disabilities) and the Lafayette 56ers, Attica Youth Football, Little Gridiron, and West Side Flag Football, helping to provide opportunities for elementary school-aged players in the area. The chapter also helps to support the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
The NFF chapter is one of 120 nation-wide. Other Indiana chapters are in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Indianapolis. Nationally, the NFF has more than 12,000 members and awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships each year.
Celebrating the inductions of three former Boilermakers into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame will be the main focus of the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana at its June 10 Honors Dinner at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette.
Tickets are now on sale through the chapter’s website at www.nfftillerchapter.org and a ticket mailer that is available to members first and then upon request. For priority seating, members should get their orders in by May 31, although sales will continue through the first week of June.
Former Purdue head football coach Jim Young and former four-year starting center Peter Quinn will be inducted while former Purdue All-America running back Otis Armstrong will receive the plaque for his 2015 induction, which he was unable to attend. Prior to those presentations, the Honors Dinner program will include six other awards. They are:
For the 12th straight year, the top scholar-athletes of Northern Indiana, who were nominated by their schools for the NFF’s scholarships, will be featured during this marque event.
Those 14 scholar-athletes are all high school seniors who are headed to college next fall. Academically, it is an outstanding group. Four of the 14 have 4.0 grade point averages or better, eight are ranked among the top 10 percent in their senior classes, and two are on course to be valedictorians at their schools. Their collective grade point average is 3.66.
Six of those young men have been singled out by judges as finalists for the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award and the winner will be announced June 10 making him a candidate for the Indiana Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. The “competition” is based 40 percent on academics, 40 percent on athletics and 20 percent on citizenship, leadership and character.
The scholar-athletes’ names and high schools are: Garrett Clark (Delphi Community), Cody Colbert (Tri-Central), Devon Colonis (Lafayette Jefferson), Brady Decker (North Newton), Jack Folkers (West Lafayette), Melee Jackson (East Chicago Central), David Kostbade (Hobart), Patrick Marsh (Munster), Kordell Prescott (Peru), Ethan Schrader (Lafayette Central Catholic), Maverick Schultz (Winamac Community), Garritt Slatcoff (Chesterton), J. Dan Sturgeon (Harrison) and Josh Turanchick (Oak Hill).
In addition, the Honors Dinner crowd will pay tribute to the high school players and managers chosen from Regions 1 and 4 to compete on the North Squad in the annual North-South All-Star Game this summer in Indianapolis.
Purdue Head Football Coach Darrell Hazell will be part of the program as will Miss Purdue Maureen Brooks, who will be competing the following week for the title of Miss Indiana.
Also, Karli Edging, a Purdue student and vocal star from nearby Delphi, will perform for the fourth straight NFF Honors Dinner.
HALL OF FAME
All previous award winners are being invited back to take part in the 12th Annual Honors Dinner. An “After-Glow” Dessert Reception will follow the program in a separate location.
But, the highlight of the night, in conjunction with the Indiana Football Coaches Association, will be the Hall of Fame Inductions.
Quinn, a 1981 Purdue grad, was the starting center for a four-year run of Boilermaker football that was among the best ever, amassing a record of 33-13-1, including 23-8-1 in the Big Ten, from 1977-80 for All-American quarterback Mark Herrmann. Quinn was voted the greatest center in the first 100 years of Purdue football. He was also a three-year starter at Scecina High School in Indianapolis. Pete has enjoyed a highly-successful career in real estate while also serving as color analyst on the Purdue Radio Network for 24 years. He will call his 300th game this fall.
Young, a 1956 graduate of Bowling Green State, was the head coach at Purdue for five years (record of 38-19-1), including all of Quinn’s years, and spent a total of six years at Purdue, where he was also an associate athletic director for one year. He posted winning records at Arizona and Army and had a collective record of 120-71-2 in 18 years as a head coach. He had a 5-1 record in bowl games and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Jim also served as an assistant coach for 12 years of his career and was the “acting” head coach for Michigan in the 1970 Rose Bowl.
Armstrong was actually selected and inducted last year, but was unable to travel to Indiana due to surgery while Leroy Keyes accepted his plaque. Otis, a record-setting back for Purdue in the early 1970’s, now lives in Centennial, Colo., near Denver where he played professionally for the Broncos. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Other honorees at “Celebrating Our Legends XII” will be Leverenz, Nauman and Talavage, three Purdue researchers who are leading a major study on concussions and brain damage in an effort to create safer playing conditions for football players at all levels. They will receive the award that was created to recognize outstanding contributions to amateur football and named after All-America receiver Bernie Flowers, who played in the early 1950’s and enjoyed a long career in business.
DeVos, a former walk-on quarterback at Purdue, is now President of Amway International; Spurgeon, a former football manager who went on to own his own business, is a 10-year member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and a recent chairman of the board; Anthrop showed great mental toughness in battling back from injuries and signed on this spring as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts; and Turanchick exhibited outstanding courage in overcoming his physical difficulties as a child to emerge as an accomplished football player.
Table prices are the same as last year for a table of eight ($400 for general public, $320 for NFF chapter members and honorees’ families, and $280 for students). Single tickets are $60 for public, $50 for members and $40 for students. “After-Glow” Dessert Reception tickets are $50 each for general public and $25 for NFF members.
Since receiving its charter in the fall of 2004, as a non-profit organization, this chapter has awarded nearly $190,000 in grants, scholarships and honorariums to students plus another $60,000 to other charities in the region.
In addition to seeking donations and sponsorships to support the scholarship program, the chapter also receives money ($500 for every 50 dues-paying members in the local chapter) from the national office in Irving, Tex. In its first 11 years, this chapter has recognized 214 scholar athletes and awarded them between $200 and $5,000 each.
The NFF’s tax-deductible membership dues are $40 per year or $99 for three years, payable to the National Football Foundation. The NFF has 120 chapters and more than 12,000 members, nationally, and awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships each year.
For more information, contact Vruggink at 3672 Farnsworth Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47906; (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 765-427-3303).