2017 UIC Hall of Fame Banquet & Reunion Largest crowd in event history honors several great Flames

Some of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of the University of Illinois at Chicago came together on Saturday, January 28 to celebrate the 24th Hall of Fame banquet and reunion.

The event was held once again at the UIC Forum. The Forum is one of the most unique, versatile and accessible venues in the City of Chicago, and its located right on campus at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Halsted Ave. in University Village.
UIC Athletic Director Jim Schmidt, now in his 21st year leading the department, started the evening by welcoming UIC alums, distinguished guests, honorees, family and friends to the event. The largest crowd in the 24-year history of the celebration, more than 425 people, packed the Forum to honor the Flames.
One of the distinguished guests was UIC Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services. Donovan will retire this later year following over 40 years of service.

Following a delicious dinner and dessert from Connie's Catering, the 2017 UIC Hall of Fame induction ceremony began. The class included Tricia Charbonneau (softball), Tom Cisar (men's golf), Jay DeMerit (men's soccer), Erin Garrett-Guevara (women's swimming), Justin Johnson (baseball), Denny Wills (men's basketball coach and administrator), and the 1997-98 men's basketball team.

UIC head softball coach Lynn Curylo (left) presented one of her former teammates, Tricia Charbonneau.
Charbonneau starred on the softball field from 1995-98. Her name is dotted throughout both the UIC and NCAA record books. Today she is a licensed architect and a broadcaster for the Chicago Force, a Women's Tackle Football team, for which she one played.
Veteran Chicago newsman Jay Levine had the pleasure of presenting his friend and golf partner Tom Cisar.
Cisar was an integral part of a golden era in UIC men's golf history. Under the direction of head coach Dick Rader, and in conjunction with other elite players like Bob Augustine, the program posted an unbeaten streak of 66 consecutive matches. Cisar and his wife, Margaret, are still active at UIC, supporting the university's medical school and sponsoring the Cisar Student Veterans Center in the student union.
Sasha Begovic (right), a UIC Hall of Famer himself, presented one of his former players, Jay DeMerit.
DeMerit anchored a back line that helped propel UIC men's soccer to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 1999, and to reach the Sweet 16 in 2000. He went on to a stellar professional career that included stints with Watford FC in the English Premier League and the United States Men's National Team. He helped the Red, White and Blue reach the Knockout Round for the first time since 1930 during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Erin Garrett-Guevara (left) was presented by her high school swim coach, Chuck Knibbs
Garrett-Guevara is the first female member of the UIC Swimming program to earn induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame. She broke countless school and MCC records in the pool during her collegiate career from 1996-99. Two years ago she earned a nursing degree from Saint Xavier, and she is currently is a member of the Chicago Police Department Marine Unit.
UIC associate athletic trainer Pat Donovan (right) hugs Justin Johnson as he presents the former baseball standout.
Johnson was one of the most prolific hitters in UIC Baseball history. He ended his collegiate career with a .377 batting average, 19 home runs, 118 RBI and 94 runs scored. He was a two-time All-Horizon League First Team honoree and a First Team All-Mideast Region player in 2006. He went on to play two seasons of Minor League Baseball in the Baltimore Orioles organization and he is currently a site manager for a construction company in his home state of Minnesota.
Schmidt (right) returned to the dais to present his longtime colleague and friend, Denny Wills.
Wills received a lengthy standing ovation from an admiring crowd as he took to the podium.
An iconic part of the UIC family for 30 years, Wills currently serves as a Senior Associate Athletic Director as well as the Director of Port Academic Center and Alumni Relations. He came to UIC in 1987, when he joined the men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach under former head coach and Hall of Famer Bob Hallberg.
The six individual inductees in the Class of 2017.
Former UIC men's basketball coach Jimmy Collins presented his 1997-98 squad.
The 1997-98 UIC men’s basketball team was the first in school history to earn a bid in the NCAA Tournament. It had the most conference wins and the highest conference win percentage in the school’s Division I history, a 12-2 record in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) and an overall record of 22-6, turning out notable wins against tough teams like Butler and Michigan State.
Anthony Coomes spoke to the room on behalf of his teammates.
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Elizabeth Monge

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