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Director's Column




Ashley Luke Named Women's Basketball's First-Ever Academic All-American

Ashley LukeWestern Illinois women's basketball forward Ashley Luke was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Third Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The announcement came on Thursday (Feb. 20).

Luke becomes the program's first-ever Academic All-America selection, an award that recognizes student-athletes' academic and athletic accomplishments

Out of the 15 Academic All-America honorees, Luke was the only sophomore and one of just two non-seniors selected. Additionally, she was one of just two recipients to maintain a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

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Brian Mohnsen Joins Football Coaching Staff

Brian MohnsenWestern Illinois head football coach Bob Nielson announced the hiring of Brian Mohnsen to his staff. Mohnsen brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Leatherneck program.

“We are excited to hire Brian Mohnsen as our defensive line coach. He brings a wealth of coaching experience to our program, and will be a positive mentor to our student-athletes both on and off the field,” said Nielson. “At every stop throughout his coaching career, Brian’s players have gained national recognition, and he understands what it takes to build a championship program.

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Western Illinois Men's Basketball Alumni Event a Success

Summit League Champions RingWestern Illinois welcomed back alumni from the men's basketball program this past Saturday (Feb. 15) at the Leathernecks' game against South Dakota State. There were 21 people registered for the event, but due to poor weather conditions, a total of 15 made it to Macomb.

"This was a great event, and included alumni from Texas, Tennessee, and Florida," said Assistant Athletics Director for Development Michael Jones. "We have a rich tradition of basketball here at WIU, and our alumni enjoyed being back on campus and watching our current team in action."

The 2012-13 Summit League championship team was honored at halftime of Saturday's game and were presented with their championship rings. 

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Second Annual Lead Off Dinner Raises More Than $15,000

Western Illinois baseball held its second annual ‘Lead Off Dinner’ last Sunday evening (Feb .9) at the Forum in Macomb. Nearly 270 people were in attendance for the event, which raised more than $15,000 for the baseball program. The money rasied will go towards endowment of scholarships and the excellence fund.

“It’s unbelievable to get that many people to attend the event and support baseball,” said head coach Ryan Brownlee. “It’s great for our program and our guys to see that type of support and it gets the ball rolling with endowment of scholarships and our excellence fund. Those two things will help with development, extra equipment, uniforms and any of the extra stuff that we need.”

The event featured both a silent and live auction, as well as a prime rib dinner. Some of the items included signed sports memorabilia, tickets to various professional sporting events and a bus trip to the Leathernecks' baseball game at Iowa.

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Western Illinois Raises More Than $23,000

On Saturday (Feb, 1), Western Illinois Athletics hosted its annual Think Pink game prior to the women's basketball game against Fort Wayne. Along with Think Pink, Western Illinois student-athletes participated in Dance Marathon, held for the first time at Western Illinois, all leading to a memorable day for Western Illinois Athletics.

The day started at 12:30 p.m., as Dance Marathon kicked off for the first time at Western Illinois. Among the particants were members of the softball, women's soccer, women's golf, volleyball, football and cheerleading teams. Every hour was a new theme, a new portion of a dance and a new story.

Two hours later at Western Hall, Think Pink began in East Arena, raising money for Linda's Fund. The fund was created in 2008 in memory of Linda (Ren) Bainter, mother of Brad Bainter (WIU Vice President for Advancement and Public Services)

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Western Illinois Football Adds 32 Recruits

Western Illinois University Football and head coach Bob Nielson announced that 32 recruits will join the program. The second year head coach discussed the 2014 signing class during Wednesday’s (Feb. 5) afternoon press conference.

Of the 32 recruits, five joined the program at the start of the Spring 2014 semester ready to participate in spring practice next month. Four of the five newest Leathernecks are linemen – two on offense and two on defense – and Western also signed a tight end.

Overall, Western signed 17 recruits on offense, 14 on defense and one on special teams. Nielson and his staff concentrated on signing linemen on both sides of the ball, getting six on the defensive line and seven on offense along with four tight ends.

“This year’s recruiting class is built around two things,” said Nielson. “First, we needed to address our immediate needs with an emphasis on the offensive and defensive line positions. Secondly, we wanted to establish depth of talent necessary to compete for a Missouri Valley Football Conference championship. I want to congratulate the coaching staff on their hard work and tremendous job representing Western Illinois University and our Leatherneck Football program.”

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