Western Illinois Athletics names 2019 Hall of Fame inductees

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

As the year moves on, it is always important to remember those who came before us, walked these same pathways, sat in the same buildings and even competed on the same gym floor. Western Illinois announced the 2019 hall of fame class earlier this month to celebrate some previous spectacles.

The class includes two new additions to the hall of fame room. First, Bob Nardelli, who was a captain of the 1969 football team that won the final Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. The offensive lineman primarily played left guard for the team that had an overall record of 8-2.

The team had a powerful offense that averaged over 400 yards per game. That stat put them as the ninth best team in the nation. They earned a bid to the Mineral Water Bowl that same year. Nardelli himself earned some accolades including All-State Second Team according to the Peoria Journal.

Whatever accolade he has gotten on the field is most likely shy in comparison to his business life. He has served as geeralaager to General Electric Power Systems, Chrysler and Home Depot. In fact, when Nardelli stepped down as GM to Home Depot, he pocketed $223 million.

He has degrees from Western, University of Louisville and Harvard Business School. At 74 years old, he now operates his very own private-equity investment business XLR-8 LLC. Hopefully his enshrinement into Western’s Hall of Fame will serve as a reminder to all that no matter what, you can rise to the top and live your best life.

Not only will Nardelli be inducted to the Western Illinois HOF, he will also get the honor of being this year’s homecoming parade’s Grand Marshal. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday.

Nardelli shares this year’s class with the entire 1974 Western Illinois baseball team. The team may be the most dominant athletic team Western has ever seen. Going 31-12 is second on a single season winning record of all-time, but it earned Western its first ever postseason appearance.

The team has had three individuals already selected into Western’s Hall of Fame including Ed Gvazdinskas (1987), Dick Mantick (2003) and head coach Dick Pallow (2004). The team has nine statistics still in the record books. Those numbers have yet to be taken away and are clear evidence as to how great they they truly were.

The team had two MLB players on it including Mantick and Rick Vogel, who went to the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs, respectively. The baseball team saw a new coach hired just a couple weeks ago and is hoping to get back to this type of winning baseball.

As people try to succeed in life, it is always a good reminder to remember those who have come before us, showing us the way to success and a way to learn lessons, before we learn them the hard way.

Induction ceremonies for Nardelli and members of the 1974 baseball team will be this Friday inside the Grand Ballroom at the University Union. Along with the official induction on Friday, the inductees will also be recognized during halftime at the homecoming football game between the Fighting Leathernecks and the Missouri State University Bears. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.