Fighting Illini Athletics announces 2020 Hall of Fame class

By: Mariah Guzman

Illinois Athletics added 15 newcomers to the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2020. The class is filled with athletes and coaches from 1901 through 2013.

2020 Hall of Fame List:

  • Moe Gardener, Football
  • Kevin Hardy, Football
  • Ray Nitschke, Football
  • Jake Stahl, Baseball/Football
  • Tal Brody, Basketball
  • Derek Harper, Basketball
  • Jenna Smith, Basketball
  • Leo Johnson, Track and Field coach
  • Bob Richards, Track and Field
  • Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Volleyball
  • Vanessa DiBernardo, Soccer
  • Art Schankin, Fencing
  • Adam Tirapelle, Wrestling
  • Don Tonry, Gymnastics

Ray Nitschke is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and lead the Green Bay Packers to five world championships, conquering Superbowls I and II. Kevin Hardy was a 1995 Butkus award winner along with earning consensus All-America honors. Two-time All-American Moe Gardener is one of the greatest defensive tackles the program has had. Gardner earned first-Team All-Big Ten honors three times and consensus All-America recognition twice.

NBA star Derek Harper joins the Hall of Fame with Tal Brody and all-time leading scorer and rebounder for the women’s program, Jenna Smith.

Moving to the volleyball court, Michelle Bartsch was a three-time All-American and was one of the greatest all-around players in program history. 

Representing soccer is Vanessa DiBernardo, who was a Second-Team All-American three times during her career with the Illini.

Representing track and field is Gia Lewis-Smallwood, the most accomplished field-event competitor in the women’s track and field history for the Illini as she won multiple U.S. championships and set broke the American record in the Discus. On the men’s track and field side, coach Leo Johnson and Bob Richards made it after incredible careers for the Illini. Coach Johnson led the Illini to three NCAA titles along with 17 Big Ten championships while coaching 27 NCAA individual champions. One of those champions is Bob Richards, who won an NCAA title, two Olympic Gold Medals and one Silver Medal in the pole vault from 1948-1956.

Art Schankin, had a successful fencing career as an athlete and a coach, winning an individual NCAA title in the sabre in 1958 and coached the Illini to seven Big Ten championships during his tenure.

Men’s Gymnastics has Bob Terry, who was an Olympian in 1960 and won an NCAA title in the 1959 Floor Exercise and All-Around.

For Wrestling, three-time All-American and 2001 NCAA champion Adam Tirapelle will be inducted.

The oldest member of the class is two-sport athlete Garland “Jake” Stahl, who had an All-American football career and would go on to win two World Series with the Boston Red Sox, one as a player and one as a manager.

This class brings the total of UI Athletics Hall of Fame members to eighty.

The official Hall of Fame induction is set for Friday, Sept. 18, at the State Farm Center. The event is free and open to the public.

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