skip navigation


Joe Tiller

Chapter History

Thirteen 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 $275,000 in grants, scholarships, honorariums and donations since receiving its charter in 2004. 

Through out first 13 years as a chapter, we have honored 334 individuals for their accomplishments, including 242 scholar-athletes who have been awarded a total of more than $210,000 in scholarships and honorariums for college.  

‚ÄčThis 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 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.

Scholar-Athlete of the Year 2017

Jack DeGroot of Winamac High School was named the 2017 Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the NFF Honors Dinner on June 11 at the Purdue Memorial Union.

Big 2018 set for chapter

Putting on first class events and honoring individuals for their accomplishments are the main focal points of the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana. And 2018 will be no exception.

Many details are now in place for four important events involving our chapter this winter and spring as we roll into our 14th year of existence.

Activities continue on Sunday afternoon, Apr. 1, as Purdue Gold Standard, our partner student organization, puts on its sixth annual Color Dodgeball for a Cause on Purdue’s Intramural Fields working in
cooperation with Purdue’s Trademarks & Licensing Office.

Then, on Friday, May 11, the chapter joins forces again with the Trademarks & Licensing Office to host an event, the Ryan Kerrigan/12th Boiler Golf Outing at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette.

Following that is the chapter’s primary function, highlighting our scholar-athletes and award winners at the NFF Honors Dinner “Celebrating Our Legends XIV” on Sunday, June 17 or July 1, at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette.

Prior to that event, however, are two key deadlines for the awards process. Nominations are due Feb. 3 from the high schools in the 17-county area of Northwest Indiana for the judging of the Scholar-Athlete
of the Year Award. Also, Mar. 31 is the deadline for nominations for the other chapter awards (see awards and nomination form on adjoining pages).

NFF Chapter Launches Scholar-Athlete Endowment

Success stories fill our chapter’s history. Among them: the scholar-athletes supported by our chapter who have become doctors, dentists, CIA agents, engineers, businessmen, coaches, graduate students and outstanding members of their communities.

They have made their families, their schools and our chapter members and supporters proud.

Our Scholar-Athletes of the Year are chosen using this criteria:

  • Academic achievement:                    40%
  • Football performance and attitude:     40%
  • Leadership and citizenship:               20%

A few highlights of our scholarship program:

  • We offer scholarship opportunities at some 70 Indiana high schools.
  • These schools are in 17 Northwest Indiana counties, from Tippecanoe to Lake.
  • In the 12 years since our chapter’s founding, we have honored 228 scholar-athletes at our annual NFF Honors Dinners
  • Scholarship awards have surpassed $200,000 total.

That’s what we call a touchdown! The money has come from chapter revenues, member contributions and sponsorships. Now, we’d like that score to reach even higher, and we’d like to ensure the permanence of our scholarship program.

To do that, our chapter is kicking off a campaign to raise funds for a scholarship endowment. We need your help. Money raised will be placed in the endowment and held forever, making your gift a lasting one, indeed. The money will be wisely invested by our national organization, and proceeds earned will help fund chapter scholarships. This way, we create an ongoing source for scholarship assistance.

Please consider making a lasting investment in our student-athletes. You believe in them, and helping them achieve their potential is a big win—for them, for our communities, for you as a donor and for our chapter.

Questions? Email or call  President Kelly Kitchel (; 765-412-7215) or  Executive Director Jim Vruggink (; 765/427-3303).

Please send your most generous contribution today. Make your check payable to the National Football Foundation, noting in the memo line: NFF Tiller/NW Indiana Chapter Endowment. Mail it to:

  Jim Vruggink

  NFF Joe Tiller/NW Indiana Chapter

  3672 Farnsworth Drive

  West Lafayette, IN 47906