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/
Brady Preston of Lafayette Jeff High School was named the NFF Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the J&C Student-Athlete of the Year.
Lafayette Jefferson High School’s Brady Preston, a three-sport standout starter with four years of straight-A’s in the classroom, has been named the National Football Foundation’s State of Indiana Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2021-22.
He becomes the 10th recipient of this annual state award. Presentation of a trophy will take place July 27 at a private event at Town & Gown Bistro in West Lafayette. Winning the state award gives Brady a clean sweep of the awards designed to recognize outstanding scholarship and athletic prowess.
Preston was named the Lafayette Journal & Courier Male Student-Athlete of the Year on June 12 prior to being named the Joe Tiller Chapter Scholar-Athlete of the Year. On June 23, Preston was one of 82 scholar-athletes named to the NFF’s Team of Distinction, a nation-wide recognition.
Representing the NFF’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana, Preston was selected by a panel of judges representing the four active NFF chapters in the state. The “competition” was based 40 percent on academics, 40 percent on athletics and 20 percent on citizenship, leadership and character.
Brady, the son of Mark and Cindy Preston of Lafayette, will study business at Butler University. He earned a 4.35 GPA and was on the straight-A honor roll all eight semesters. A 2021 IFCA Academic AllState selection, Preston earned the 2021 Principal’s Award for having the highest GPA on the baseball, basketball and football teams.
Preston started at Lafayette Jeff for three football seasons - one as a tight end and two as a quarterback - as part of the second winningest class in Lafayette Jeff football history, including three NCC championships. He was an All-NCC and All-J&C selection in both 2020 and 2021. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Broncho baseball team as a catcher and was a starting guard in basketball.
Preston was a pillar of the Lafayette community through the Salvation Army Red Kettle program and the Lafayette Community Christmas Day Dinner. He earned the Distinguished Citizenship Award from the City of Lafayette. At Lafayette Jeff, he was active in the National Honor Society and Spirit Advisory Club.
"On behalf of the NFF chapters in Indiana, I want to congratulate all the scholar-athletes who were nominated and all the coaches and principals who nominated them this year as we advanced the NFF’s recognition to all football-playing high schools in Indiana,” said Jim Vruggink, the executive director for the Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana, who coordinated the judging process for this award.
Celebrating our legends and creating new ones is this year’s focus of the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana.
The Tiller Chapter is moving ahead with a busy slate of events and projects for the remainder of 2022. The emphasis is to provide 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” XVIII on June 12 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette was the organization’s feature event. With a sellout crowd of 353, it kicked off the busiest six-month stretch in chapter history.
Next up was NFF Night with the Lafayette Aviators on July 13 at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette thanks to the hospitality of board member Nate Barrett and the kind folks at Twin City Superstore and the Chariot Automotive Group.
That event is followed by the Tyler Trent Golf Outing Sept. 9 at Coyote Crossing Golf Club and the NFF Honors Reception, which will feature the induction of former Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, that evening at Bruno’s Swiss Inn in West Lafayette. Later in September, the chapter will sponsor a bus trip to the Indianapolis Colts-Kansas City Chiefs game, featuring first-round draft choice George Karlaftis, on Sept. 25. Depending on the popularity of that trip, the Tiller Chapter may sponsor a similar trip to a Purdue football game in November in November, possibly the Bucket Game in Bloomington, if tickets are available.
Golfers! Please add Sept. 9 to your calendar and plan to help make our second year of involvement with the Tyler Trent Golf Outing a great success.
After several years of the Ryan Kerrigan/12th Boiler Golf Outing as a combined effort between the NFF Tiller Chapter and Purdue’s Trademarks Licensing Office, this chapter came to an agreement with the Tyler Trent Family and Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research with help from the Purdue For Life Office and Boilers, Inc.
The outing will be an 18-hole scramble at Coyote Crossing Golf Club near West Lafayette. Lunch will be provided on the course and a reception will follow.
Capitalizing on terrific cooperation and involvement last September from former Purdue and NFL quarterback Jim Everett, the golf tournament organizers have invited another former Purdue and NFL quarterback, Kyle Orton, to serve as a host “celebrity” for this year’s event.
Orton will be in West Lafayette to be inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame at Bruno’s Swiss Inn that Friday evening and will play in the golf outing. Primarily, the golf event will raise funds for cancer research and will honor the legacy of Purdue “super-fan” Tyler Trent who passed away in early 2019 after a news-making battle with osteosarcoma cancer.
Last year, with 64 golfers and 13 sponsors, our first year of hosting this event, netted $12,000 for cancer research, thanks to $6,000 profit from the golf outing and a matching-gift program at the PCCR.
Cost of participation in this September’s event will be the same as year, $600 per foursome or $150 per player ($75 per student), and includes a longsleeve, quarter-zip shirt, box lunch, golf cart, balls and 18 holes of golf. To register, contact Jim Vruggink (765-427-3303) for more information or register online here.
The Tiller Chapter has a block of tickets for the anticipated sold-out Kansas City-Indianapolis NFL football game on Sept. 25 … and the sale is under way.
The Chiefs-Colts game will mark the first “return home“ for former Purdue All-America defensive end George Karlaftis, who was the first-round draft choice of the Chiefs this spring.
The chapter is organizing a bus trip for fans at a cost of $350 per person with the cost covering the transportation, a box lunch, ticket for the game, a souvenir shirt and a “Meet & Greet” opportunity with George after the game.
A ticket-only option is available for $250 per person. These tickets are for seats in the upper deck, between the 10 and 20-yard lines in section 637 on the east side of Lucas Oil Stadium, near the bus parking lot.
Single tickets in that area are currently selling on StubHub and Vivid Seats for $200+ and the prices are going up. The chapter will accept ticket order requests at these prices ($350 each including transportation and parking; $250 each for ticket only) until Aug. 25 when the prices will be adjusted based on the going rate at that time.
This project will serve as a fund-raising effort for the Tiller Scholarship Endowment, to assure the chapter’s scholarship commitment remains intact to help area youth in their first year of college. If successful, the bus trip concept could be repeated later in the fall for the Purdue-Indiana “Bucket Game” in Bloomington, if tickets are available. Interested parties should use the order form on the next page and submit it before Aug. 25. For additional information, contact Jim Vruggink at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-427-3303.