For the past 17 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 16 years since receiving its charter, the Northwest Indiana Chapter (which became the Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana in 2007) has enlisted more than 825 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 “Celebrating Our Legends” each spring. Drew Brees, one of Tiller’s first recruits who led Purdue to the Rose Bowl in 2001 and the current quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has been a guest speaker and presenter at seven of the 16 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 $315,000 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 16 years, this chapter has recognized 348 scholar athletes, awarding scholarships or stipends to many of them for their second semester of college, totaling about $252,000.
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 Kelly Kitchel, 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 and Brian Moore 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 $40 per year or $99 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.
RETURN TO ‘NORMAL’ IS GOAL FOR HONORS BRUNCH IN JUNE
The excitement of returning to “normal” and staging first class events is griping the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana. Part of the mission for the NFF is to provide recognition for scholar-athletes and community members who support them and to raise funds for charities.
Coming off 15 months of having much of our world turned up-side-down due to Covid-19, including high school seniors who had many of their games, contests, events, traditions and rites of passage dramatically altered, the Tiller Chapter wants to help lead the charge back to normality.
And that means planning and executing events, starting with the NFF Honors Brunch “Celebrating Our Legends XVII” on June 27 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette, followed by the NFF Honors Reception on Sept. 2 and the Tyler Trent Golf Outing on Sept. 3, both at Coyote Crossing Golf Club in West Lafayette. Other events may be planned for the fall, if health conditions don’t interfere.
The June 27 event will focus on 19 NFF scholar-athletes who were nominated by their schools throughout Northwest Indiana for the annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award and 32 Lafayette Journal & Courier student-athletes nominated by high school athletics directors in the J&C coverage area. Also being honored are 12 J&C sport-by-sport players of the year selected by the J&C sports staff and 63 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 Dinner.
Along with the awards and recognition for the high school athletes, the Tiller Chapter will also present 12 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 27 while others, including one Hall of Fame recognition, will take place at the NFF’s Honors Reception on Sept. 2 in conjunction with the Tyler Trent Golf Outing.
The entire list of awards are as follows:
The NFF scholar-athletes’ names and high schools, as nominated by their schools, are: Vincent Allegretti (Andrean), Gabe Anderson (Oak Hill), Jacob Bunton (Lafayette Central Catholic), Elijah Carden (Kankakee Valley), Cody David (Heritage), Lewis Dellinger (Twin Lakes), Ben DeLong (Elwood), Zane Downing (Eastern), Jackson Fleming (Chesterton), Andrew Forszt (Munster), Evan Fritz (Delphi), Trey Hampton (North Judson-San Pierre), Patrick Kiefer (Winamac), Zion King (Harrison), Colton Lehnen (Lafayette Jefferson), Jacob Martin (Northwestern), Sam Schott (West Lafayette), Bronson Smith (Kokomo) and Owen Smith (Clinton Central).
The Journal & Courier Nominees for Student-Athlete of the Year goes as follows: Sydney Argo (Faith Christian), Jade Ayres (Frankfort), Katie Buckles (McCutcheon), Sidney Campbell (North Montgomery), Kyle Carter (Rensselaer Central), Mark Cramer (Central Catholic), Lewis Dellinger (Twin Lakes), Reid Douglas (Rossville), Mackendzie Dresbaugh (North Newton), Carson Eberly (Fountain Central), Cade Ehlinger (North Newton), Kylie Foster (Tri-County), Lexi Fraley (Harrison), Brandte Gayler (Attica), Alyson Haehl (West Lafayette), Jaden Harness (Carroll), Taylor Hodgen (Twin Lakes), Zion King (Harrison), Caleb Koeppen (Lafayette Jeff), Emma Lawson (Rossville), Lauren Moore (Rensselaer Central), Braden Nuest (West Central), Ella Peterson (Attica), Spencer Phillips (McCutcheon), Emily Pilarski (West Central), Sam Schott (West Lafayette), Zack Searle (North Montgomery), Addison Sheets (Clinton Central), Owen Smith (Clinton Central), Khal Stephen (Seeger). Megan Wagner (Carroll) and Sam Warren (South Newton).
The Journal & Courier Players of the Year goes as follows: Brooks Barnhizer (Lafayette Jeff, Basketball), Karsyn Cherry (Central Catholic, Soccer), Chloe Chicoine (McCutcheon, Volleyball), Carson Cooke (West Lafayette, Soccer), Omarion Dixon (Harrison, Football), Evan Fritz (Delphi, Football), Teresa Maggio (McCutcheon, Basketball), Tynlie Neal (Clinton Prairie, Basketball), Peyton Price (Lafayette Jeff, Football), Damon Shaw (Rossville, Basketball), Khai Stephen (Seeger, Football) and Sam Warren (South Newton, Volleyball).
All 63 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 and/or Raheem Mostert, both former Purdue and NFL stars, will be able to attend either of this year’s events. They have been invited to the 2021 events to pick up the awards they were selected to receive in 2020, but were unable to attend due to rescheduling of last year’s Honors Dinner.
Likewise, Jim Everett and Marshall Overley were selected for induction into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2020, but their inductions were postponed to this year. Overley will be featured at the June event and Everett will be honored in September.
The two men have come to this distinction by very different paths.
Overley is an Indiana native and a graduate of Twin Lakes High School and Hanover College, followed by a career in teaching and coaching. He had a combined record of 237-137 in 34 total years as an assistant and head coach, mostly at West Lafayette High School where he was part of two state championship teams (1993 as defensive coordinator and 2009 as head coach).
Overley spent six years as an assistant at Frontier High School and 16 years as an assistant at WLHS. In his 12 years as the head coach, Overley led the Red Devils to a record of 81-55 with one state title, a semi-state title, two regional championships and three sectional championships. He also won a pair of Hoosier Conference titles. Overley retired in 2012 and now lives in Indianapolis.
Everett arrived at this point as a native of Kansas and a graduate of Albuquerque Eldorado High School in New Mexico, but came to Indiana as a highly-recruited quarterback. He put up brilliant numbers (7,411 yards and 43 touchdowns) as a two-year starter at Purdue University.
Everett was second-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-America, finishing sixth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy and was the third player chosen in the NFL Draft of 1986, picked by the Houston Oilers. He played eight of his 11 NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, where he led the league in passing twice and was named All-Pro in 1991. Everett was inducted into the Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and now lives in Dana Point, Calif.
The Indiana Football Hall of Fame is located in Richmond, Ind.
Golfers! Please add Sept. 3 to your calendar and plan to help make our first 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, a new partnership became necessary when Jim Vruggink retired from Purdue. The chapter has come to an agreement with the Tyler Trent Family and Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research with help from Gold & Black Illustrated and Purdue Sports Properties. 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.
Since Ryan Kerrigan will be unable to attend, assuming he is preparing for an NFL game that weekend with the Philadelphia Eagles, the golf tournament organizers have invited former Purdue and NFL quarterback Jim Everett to serve as a host “celebrity.” Everett will be in West Lafayette that week to be inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
Primarily, the revised 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.
Cost is $600 per foursome for chapter members or $150 per player ($75 for students), covering s shirt, cap, box lunch, golf cart, balls and 18 holes of golf. (More details to come.)
Contact Jim Vruggink (765-427-3303) for more information.