BEMIDJI, Minn. – Bemidji State University will induct six individuals and one outstanding team into its Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, as part of the University’s Alumni B-Club/Athletics Hall of Fame Weekend. This year's inductions will include four former student-athletes, a graduate who has gone on to achieve unparalleled success as a coach, an outstanding member of the BSU community and a swimming and diving team that established itself as one of the greatest in program history.
Former Bemidji State athletes Ron Bornetun (men’s swimming and diving-1976-80), Bruce Ecklund (football-1980-83), Jim Scanlan (men’s hcokey-1978-82) and Kim (Babula) Zerr (women’s basketball-1983-87) will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. The newest selection for the Alumni Coaching Achievement Award is Gail (Hecimovich) Nucech (1967-69), and the 2015 John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winner is Joe Dunn. In addition, Bemidji State’s 1979-80 men’s swimming and diving team will be enshrined into its Team Hall of Fame.
“On behalf of the Alumni B-Club, I would like to extend our congratulations to the 2015 Bemidji State Athletics Hall of Fame inductees,” said B-Club President Joan Campbell Anderson. “We are proud to honor former athletes and teams that exemplify the highest level in athletic achievement while proudly wearing the green and white and representing BSU.
“When it comes to coaches, Bemidji State has graduated some of the finest in the country and this year's nominees were exemplary,” added Anderson. “It is a pleasure to acknowledge the success of all these people as representatives of Bemidji State University.”
BSU’s 23rd Hall of Fame class will be officially inducted at the Bemidji State University Hall of Fame Brunch and Induction Ceremony Saturday, Feb. 21. The general public is encouraged to attend. Ticket and reservation information will be disseminated at a later date.
Established in 1978, the BSU Athletics Hall of Fame includes 181 individuals, 22 BSU coaches, 19 teams, six selected for the Alumni Coaching Achievement Award and five John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winners.
Bemidji State recognizes alumni, former coaches, administrators and others who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the University through their accomplishments and championships. Inductees are selected by a committee of elected B-Club members. Nominations are accepted from all interested persons.
2015 BSU Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees
Ron Bornetun 1976-80
Athletic Accomplishments while at BSU:
A four-year letterwinner for the Bemidji State men’s swimming team, Bornetun was a regular on the All-NIC squad (1976-80). He earned NAIA and American College Coaches Association All-America honors in 1978, 1979 and 1980. A member of three consecutive NIC championship teams (1978, 1979, 1980), he participated in the national meet to conclude each of his four collegiate seasons. He was an NIC champion with a conference-record in the 50 freestyle (21.3). Bornetun left Bemidji State owning two Beaver individual swimming records: 50 freestyle (21.3) and 100 freestyle (47.7), while he was a part of a 400 freestyle relay record (3:09.9). In addition, Bornetun posted records in the BSU pool for the 50 free (21.6) and was on the pool-record 400 freestyle (3:12.3) and 800 freestyle relay (7:08.3) teams.
Bruce Ecklund 1980-83
Athletic Accomplishments while at BSU:
A four-year letterwinner for the Bemidji State football team, Bruce Ecklund was a three-time All-NIC tight end for the Beavers. He remains in the top 10 among all receivers and first all-time among tight ends at BSU for career receiving yardage (1,542) and receptions (114), which includes sitting second with 5.18 catches per game. He finished his senior season with 47 catches for 760 yards and four touchdowns and was selected to the 1983 Associated Press Little All-America Team, establishing himself as one of the best tight ends in all of NCAA Divison II, III and the NAIA. He went on to play semi-pro football after graduation.
Jim Scanlan 1978-82
Athletic Accomplishments while at BSU:
Jim Scanlan was a four-year letterwinner for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team. From 1978-82 the captain was in net 85 times, logging a career record of 62-19-0, while backstopping the Beavers to a NCHA regular season title in 1982 and four consecutive trips to the NAIA national tournament and national titles in 1979 and 1980. The NCHA Player of the Year in 1982, Scanlan was selected as an NAIA All-American to conclude the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. Already a member of the Bemidji State Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 1978-79 and 1979-80 men’s hockey teams, Scanlan was also named as one of the 50 Legends for 50 Years in 2005-06. Scanlan also left his mark on the BSU goaltending records. He remains among the top ten in six major categories. He is fifth on BSU’s save percentage list (.9073), eighth in goals against average (2.821), is third on BSU’s goaltending victories list (62), ranks sixth on the Beavers’ career saves list (2,211) and his 4,807 minutes in net stand eighth in Beaver hockey history. In addition, only one goaltender in the 58 years of Bemidji State hockey has accumulated more shutouts during his career than Scanlan’s nine.
Kim (Babula) Zerr 1983-87
Athletic Accomplishments while at BSU:
A four-time letterwinner for the Bemidji State women’s basketball team, Zerr was the starting point guard for the team in all four seasons and completed her collegiate career with 1,137 points, 843 assists and 293 steals. She is the only player in BSU history with more than 1,000 points, 800 assists and 200 steals. She remains 13th on BSU’s all-time scoring list, while sitting atop the Beavers’ career steals and assists lists. She continues to own two of the top three single-season steal totals and the top three single-season assist marks, which includes a BSU-record 244 during the 1986-87 season. Zerr was a member of three BSU teams that qualified for the NAIA National Tournament (1985, 1986 and 1987) and two NSC title teams (1986 and 1987). A team captain in 1985-86 and 1986-87, Zerr was a two-time All-NIC selection (1986 and 1987), earned NAIA All-District honors four times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987) and was a 1987 Second-Team All-American.
Alumni Coaching Achievement Award
Gail (Hecimovich) Nucech 1967-69
Nucech was a multi-sport athlete at Bemidji State participating in softball, field hockey, volleyball, women’s basketball and track and field from 1967-1969, pioneering many of those teams in a time of transition from extramural programs into varsity sports.
That spirit extended into her career as a physical education teacher and coach at Hibbing High School in Hibbing, Minn. Hired in 1969, Nucech began coaching the HHS gymnastics, track and field and volleyball programs, before starting the girl’s basketball program in 1974, and led the team to the Minnesota State High School League tournament two years later. She also started the school’s softball program in 1976.
The bulk of Nucech’s coaching career was devoted to volleyball. Head coach at Hibbing High from 1969-2012, she compiled an overall record of 884-254 en route to becoming the MSHSL’s all-time winningest coach. She led the Bluejackets to 26 Iron Range Conference championships, 23 Region 7 AA/AAA titles and 23 appearances in the state tournament, which included a state championship in 1975 and a runner-up finish in 1998.
For her efforts and teams’ successes, Nucech was awarded Region 7 AA/AAA Coach of the Year honors 11 times and was named MSHSL Coach of the Year in 1975 to go with a Minnesota Volleyball Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year award in 1998.
In addition, Nucech organized and coached the Hibbing Junior Olympics Volleyball Program from the start to 2013 and continues to coach Junior Olympic volleyball in Virginia, Minn. with her daughter.
Nucech was inducted into the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame as an athlete in 1990, the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 1996, the Greenway High School Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Minnesota State High School Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2008 she was recognized for 25 years of service to the Minnesota State High School Coaches’ Association. In 2009 Nucech was selected to receive the North Country Region USA Volleyball Founder’s Award. Her influence was felt beyond the volleyball community, then-Governor Rudy Perpich proclaimed Oct. 16, 1990 Gail Nucech Day in Minnesota. Active in National Girls and Women in Sports Day activities, she was awarded with a Special Merit Award in 2008.
BSU Athlete Team Inductee
1979-80 men’s swimming and diving team
The 1979-80 Bemidji State men’s swimming and diving team, under the direction of BSU Hall of Fame coach Lee Ahlbrecht, posted an 11-1 record and established four event records en route to a first-place finish at the Northern Intercollegiate Conference meet with a league-record score of 701. Eighteen members of the team garnered All-NIC honors, either as swimmers or divers, which included 11 individual or relay conference champions.
The team advanced to the NAIA Championships, where it placed fourth and had seven swimmers finish among the top 12 individuals or relays and earn NAIA All-American Honorable Mention accolades. The team also had 10 American College Coaches’ Association All-Americans.
Following the season, head coach Lee Ahlbrecht was selected as the NAIA Coach of the Year.
John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winner
Joe Dunn has been named the 2015 John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winner. The John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winner Award was created in 2011 and recognizes an individual or individuals who were not student-athletes at BSU, but who have had a significant impact on BSU athletics, much like the late John Glas did during his 34-year tenure at BSU. This included his roles as Vice President for Finance and briefly as acting President. His strong support of athletics earned him the honor of having the fieldhouse named after him upon his retirement in 1975.
Dunn has exhibited a passion for quality student-athletes and elite athletic programs at Bemidji State since his employment at State Farm Insurance brought him to Bemidji, Minn. in 1996. Originally hand picked by then-new head football coach Jeff Tesch to spearhead the Beaver football fundraising effort, Dunn’s involvement blossomed a one-year assignment as BSU’s Athletic Development Director and eventually a stint as President of the BSU Foundation Board of Directors. Dunn, an active member of Beaver Pride and served on the organization’s board for ten years, including three years as its president. During that time, he not only played a pivotal role in the creation of the Beaver Pride Coordinator position that exists today, he also helped lead the organization’s growth from $20,000 in donations to over $250,000 annually 10 years later, establishing a solid foundation for funding student-athlete scholarships.
In addition, as a member of the Headwaters Shrine, Dunn helped established the Bemidji State Shrine Football Game. Now in its 18th season, this unique partnership between Bemidji State and the Headwaters Shrine has grown into one of BSU’s most well-attended and highly-anticipated football games of the season, while events surrounding the game help hundreds of children with disabilities or medical needs be properly diagnosed and treated at Shriner’s Hospitals around the country.
Dunn who was presented with BSU’s 2009 Honorary Alumni Award, continues to be an avid fan and supporter of all BSU athletic programs and annually backs these programs with monetary donations, including a yearly baseball scholarship he established with the help of his former employer.
For more information on the Bemidji State athletic programs, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers), like us on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" menu at BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs. BSU’s NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.