National heroes, Hall of Famers, All-Americans and scholar-athletes will be honored and recognized at various times and places this year as the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana celebrates a star-studded lineup in 2023.
Continuing with its emphasis of providing recognition for scholar-athletes and community members who support them and to raise funds for charities.
While fund-raising is an ongoing project, the NFF Honors Brunch “Celebrating Our Legends XIX” on June 25 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette is our feature event. The NFF Honors Reception on Aug. 31 at a location yet to be determined, the Tyler Trent Golf Outing on Sept. 1 at Coyote Crossing Golf Club in West Lafayette. Other events are still being considered.
The June 25 event will focus on 12 NFF scholarathletes who were nominated by their schools throughout Northwest Indiana for the annual ScholarAthlete of the Year Award and 33 Lafayette Journal & Courier student-athletes nominated by high school athletics directors in the J&C coverage area. Also being honored are 14 J&C sport-by-sport players of the year selected by the J&C sports staff and 61 Indiana Football Coaches Association North All-Star nominees from Regions 1 and 4. Personalized certificates will be presented to each of these prep athletes who attends the Honors Brunch.
Along with the awards and recognition for the high school athletes, the Tiller Chapter will also present 11 other awards, nominated and selected by chapter members and various entities, to recognize outstanding accomplishments in our communities. Some of these presentations will occur June 25 while others, including one or two Hall of Fame recognitions, will take place at the NFF’s Honors Reception in conjunction with the Tyler Trent Golf Outing.
The entire list of awards are as follows:
• J&C Female & Male Student-Athletes of the Year – To Be Announced
• NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete of the Year – To Be Announced
• Citizen/Heroes Award – Nick Bostic
• Arnette Tiller Service to Football Award – Elisheba VanWinkle
• Todd Clark Outstanding Game Official Award – James Marshall
• Bernie Flowers Contribution to Amateur Sports Award – Mike Bauer
• Leroy Keyes Legends Award – Nancy Cross
• Purdue For Life Impact Award – Charlie Jones & Aidan O’Connell
Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award – Andrew Kinder
• Distinguished American Award – Drew Brees
• Drew Brees Mental Toughness Award – Zach Edey
• Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductees:
Todd Clark (June - posthumously)
Ryan Kerrigan (June)
Tom Kubat (June)
Chris Meeks (June)
Curtis Painter (June)
Clayton Richard (Winter)
John Scheumann (TBD - posthumously)
Drew Brees (TBD in 2023 or 2024)
The NFF scholar-athletes’ names and high schools, as nominated by their schools, are: Isaiah Fowler (Chesterton), Luke Foxworthy (Fountain Central), Camden Horner (Kokomo), Kameron Little (McCutcheon), James Mantel (Andrean), Brady Miller (Lafayette Central Catholic), Matthew Richardson (West Lafayette), James Schemerhorn (Tri-County), Justin Schroeder (Frontier), Kyle Turanchick (Oak Hill), Jacob Walters (Harrison) and Joshua White (Lafayette Jefferson). The Journal & Courier Female Nominees for Student-Athlete of the Year are: Teegan Bacon (North Montgomery), Sydney Copeland (McCutcheon), Lexi Cunningham (North Newton), Halle Elliott (Crawfordsville), Riley Flinn (Harrison), Corryn Geheb (Roseville), Ava Hallberg (West Lafayette), Hannah Hodgen (Twin Lakes), Alli Holder (Faith Christian), Emma Pillion (Frankfort), Jannell Robson (Benton Central), Sydney Swan (Clinton Prairie), Emma Voors (Tri-County) and Avah Watson (Seeger). The Journal & Courier Male Nominees for Student-Athlete of the Year are: Evan Cooke (West Lafayette), Cale Coursey (Crawfordsville), Jordan Cree (Rensselaer Central), Luke Deno (Twin Lakes), Owen Duff (Carroll), Cale Ehlinger (North Newton), Luke Foxworthy (Fountain Central), Gabe Freeman (Rossville), Gage Galloway (North Montgomery), Ben Henderson (Harrison), Landon Hughes (Clinton Prairie), Andrew Johns (Faith Christian), Chase Long (Delphi), Owen Kottkamp (Benton Central), Noah Oilar (Tri-County), Quentcy Perry (Frankfort), Zion Rodriguez (West Central), Ryan Schummer (Lafayette Central Catholic) and Eli Swank (McCutcheon).
The Journal & Courier Players of the Year are: Addie Bowsman (Twin Lakes/basketball), Evan Cooke (West Lafayette/soccer), Chloe Chicoine (McCutcheon/ volleyball), Owen Duff (Carroll/ basketball), Keegan Ellis (Carroll/football/offense), Alli Harness (Carroll/basketball), Ben Henderson (Harrison/basketball), Anna Lasater (West Lafayette/ soccer), Avery Layton (Rossville/softball ’22), Ben Mazur (Lafayette Central Catholic/baseball ’22), Ethan McCormick (Harrison/baseball ’22), Max Mullis (West Lafayette/football/offense), Sydney Miller (Harrison/softball ’22), Matthew Richardson (West Lafayette/football/defense), Grace Roach (Lafayette Central Catholic/volleyball) and Brinn Robbins (Lafayette Central Catholic/football/defense).
All 61 students who were selected as all-stars for the North team – some of them invited to this event for other awards and honors – are invited to this Honors Brunch and will receive certificates, if they attend. That entire list can be found at www.ifca.net.
It is still unknown (as of our printing deadline) whether Drew Brees, former Purdue and NFL star, will be able to attend either of this year’s events. He has been invited to the 2023 events to pick up the award he was selected to receive in 2020 but was unable to attend due to COVID and scheduling conflicts.
The newly-selected community honorees for 2023 feature Nick Bostic who saved the lives of four Lafayette children when he happened across a house fire last July and was honored with a national award – the Carnegie Hero Medal, Mike Bauer for his generosity, Elisheba VanWinkle for her service, James Marshall for his game officiating, Nancy Cross for her career of loyalty to Purdue and Andrew Kinder as the Tyler Trent Scholarship winner.
Athletic-oriented awards this year will go to Charlie Jones and Aidan O’Connell for their impact on Purdue football, Zach Edey for his mental toughness and excellence in Purdue basketball as Consensus National Player of the Year and high school standouts Ashlynn Brooke and Kendal Rider for overcoming huge health issues.
The eight IFCA Hall of Fame inductees have come to this distinction by very different paths – four as players, one each as a coach, sports writer, game official and donor.
Two of the players, Ryan Kerrigan and Curtis Painter of Purdue, will be inducted June 25 while Brees will receive his Hall of Fame plaque next fall or next year and Clayton Richard will receive his Hall of Fame plaque next winter at a basketball game at McCutcheon H.S. Kerrigan was nominated by Muncie Central H.S, and Purdue, following a great playing career as an all-state defensive player in Muncie, an All-American in West Lafayette and an All-Pro in Washington, DC. Likewise, Painter enjoyed great success on offense as a quarterback at Vincennes Lincoln and Purdue while providing backup duties with three NFL teams over six seasons. Kerrigan is now an assistant coach with the Washington Commanders and Painter is in business living in Westfield, Ind. Brees enjoyed an impressive four-year stint as Purdue’s record-setting quarterback before surviving a major shoulder injury and posting a record-setting NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, including winning a Super Bowl in 2010. Richard excelled in two sports as Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball while at McCutcheon and as a highly-recruited football and baseball player at the University of Michigan before a lengthy career in Major League Baseball. Clayton is now coaching football and baseball at Lafayette Jefferson H.S.
The HOF inductee who earned his honor via coaching is Chris Meeks of Rensselaer Central H.S. where he has posted a record of 186-100 in 24 years (1999 though the present) as head coach after playing football for the Bombers in the early 1980’s. His best coaching season was 2014 when Rensselaer Central won the Class 2A State Championship and posted a record of 15-0.
Tom Kubat was selected for induction after a 40- year career as sports writer for the Lafayette Journal & Courier, covering all sports for area high schools while being the primary beat reporter for Purdue sports for the majority of that time, winning many sports writing awards including induction into the Indiana Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Posthumous inductions will include Todd Clark, who helped in the founding of the Western Indiana Officials Association in 2003 while having an on-field officiating career that spanned from 1974 through 2014, and John Scheumann, who was a very successful builder in the Lafayette area and was a major contributor to Lafayette Jeff for the b
For the past 18 years, football fans of Purdue University and Northwest Indiana have been channeling some of their enthusiasm and support for amateur football through the National Football Foundation’s chapter based in West Lafayette.
In the 18 years since receiving its charter, the Northwest Indiana Chapter (which became the Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana in 2007) has enlisted more than 850 members, becoming the largest chapter in the state and, at one point, was second largest in the nation.
The chapter typically plans several annual events in the area – highlighted by its marquee event, the Honors Dinner/Brunch “Celebrating Our Legends” each spring. Drew Brees, one of Tiller’s first recruits who led Purdue to the Rose Bowl in 2001 and a Hall of Fame quarterback with the New Orleans Saints, has been a guest speaker and presenter at several of the 17 dinners. At that event, the chapter recognizes individuals from the region for various awards and accomplishments, including the announcement of the chapter’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. As a non-profit organization, this chapter has awarded approximately $334,000 in grants, scholarships, honorariums and donations since receiving its charter in 2004.
This chapter offers scholarship opportunities for scholar athletes after graduation from 70 high schools in 17 Northwest Indiana counties (ranging from Tippecanoe to Lake counties). 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 18 years, this chapter has recognized 433 scholar athletes, awarding scholarships or stipends to many of them for their second semester of college.
Each dues-paying member receives a ballot in the selection process for the College Football Hall of Fame, a feature that helped elect former Purdue All-Americans Mike Phipps, Mark Herrmann, Otis Armstrong, Dave Butz and Rod Woodson to the Hall in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, respectively. “One of the most important goals of the chapter is to help provide support for former players and coaches who deserve induction into the College Hall of Fame,” says Alan Karpick, the chapter president and a former Purdue player.
Also, this chapter has been very helpful in getting Armstrong, Butz and Woodson along with Joe Tiller, Mike Alstott, Leroy Keyes, Pete Quinn, Jim Young, Bernie Flowers, Len Dawson, Dale Samuels, Dustin Keller, Jim Everett and several area high school coaches inducted into the Indiana FB Hall of Fame since 2012.
In addition to the scholarships, the local chapter has been involved in support of various youth programs and charities in the area and provides financial assistance for the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and the John Purdue Club’s 12th Boiler Scholarship Program.
The tax-deductible membership dues are now $60 per year or $150 for three years, payable to the National Football Foundation. The NFF has 120 chapters in 47 states and more than 10,000 members, nationally, and awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships per year while also administering the College Football Hall of Fame. For more information, contact Jim Vruggink (email: email@example.com; phone: 765-427-3303; or mail: 3672 Farnsworth Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47906/
Our second annual Tyler Trent Golf Outing at Coyote Crossing was a success as we had 56 golfers and 24 sponsors. After golf, the NFF Honors Reception that evening at Bruno's featured Kyle Orton's induction into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
The NFF Tiller Chapter’s third annual Tyler Trent Golf Outing will take place Friday Sept. 1 at Coyote Crossing Golf Club near West Lafayette.
Chapter members will be given first opportunity to sign up as players, foursomes and sponsors when the first event flyers are distributed by email within a few weeks.
This event, like the first two, will benefit the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research, and will feature a member of Purdue’s Cradle of Quarterbacks. This time it will be Curtis Painter, who piled up 11,163 yards passing and 67 touchdowns in three years as Purdue’s starter. Last year Kyle Orton was at Coyote Crossing and in 2021 Jim Everett participated in the T2 Golf Outing. All three Boilermaker stars were invited to take part in connection with their induction into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
The owners of Coyote Crossing, Torrin and Robin Bottrell, are committed to making this year’s Tyler Trent Golf Outing the biggest and best yet.
“We’ve seen this outing from our backyard and in the process got to know the Tony and Kelly Trent,” says Robin. “What started as a casual meeting and a few adult beverages has turned into a true friendship. Getting to know these wonderful people, and learning their story first hand, gave us all we needed to join them in their fight to find a cure for the cancer that took Tyler way before his time.”
“They are using their personal tragedy to help others, and we are elated to be able to help them in the process,” says Torrin. “We hope to take the T2 Outing to the next level, and with the help of our Director of Club Operations, Brent Wills, we will make it happen. We look for the support of the Purdue family, the Joe Tiller Chapter of the NFF and the Coyote Crossing membership to make this the best year ever!”
Prices for the Tyler Trent Golf Outing will remain the same in 2023 as the first two years -- $150 per person/$600 for a foursome and $200 for a hole sponsorship. In the first two years of involvement with the Trent Family, the Tiller Chapter has generated $18,300 for cancer research through these golf outings. If you are a golfer, please save that date and join the effort.