BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Former Bemidji State University volleyball coach Donna Palivec was inducted into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame Tuesday in Burnsville, Minn. in the kickoff event of the NSIC Summer Meetings. In addition, BSU graduate, former student-athlete and Alumni B Club president Randy Bowen was honored as the league's Noel Olson Volunteer of the Year Award recipient.
In addition to Palivec, the hall of fame class of 2018 included: James McNear III, Concordia University, St. Paul; Nate Hendrickson, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Ryan Miller, Northern State University; Andrea (Schreier) Sawatzky, Southwest Minnesota State University; Emily (Schroeder) Jones, Wayne State College; and Cyndy (Schubbe) Jones, Winona State University.
Founded in 1986, the Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC - the former men’s conference) Hall of Fame was established to recognize and honor those who made significant contributions to the conference, to create favorable publicity and public relations for the league and to help preserve the history of the NIC, its member institutions, student-athletes, and other significant individuals affiliated with the league. For the first two inductions (1986 and 1990) each selection hailed from the NIC. In 1993, the Northern Sun Conference (NSC - the former women’s conference) and the NIC merged, creating the current NSIC. The NSIC Hall of Fame now boasts 197 members and one team.
Each NSIC school (who has been a league member for at least ten years) is asked to submit one candidate per institution for induction into the Hall. Each of the candidates are derived from individuals who have been affiliated with the NSIC, NIC, NSC and their member institutions.
In order to be eligible for the NSIC Hall of Fame, candidates must have made their contributions in one of the following areas: 1) former student-athletes, 2) administrator/coach, 3) official/supervisor/coordinator, 4) contributor/supporter, or 5) team. The conference provides two plaques; one of which will go to the inductee and one to the institution represented. A history of each inductee will be kept in the league office and each institution will prominently display the plaques of their respective NSIC Hall of Fame inductees.
Donna Palivec, Bemidji State University (1994-2001)
Palivec had an immediate impact when she became Bemidji State’s head volleyball coach in 1994. By the end of her second season, the Beavers recorded more wins than they had in six years, finishing 19-17. The team topped that in 1997 by going 21-12, and its 25-7 record in 1999 was the most wins for BSU volleyball since a 28-17 season in 1989. Palivec, who ranks second on BSU’s all-time coaching wins list, led the Beavers to 119 total victories, including four seasons of at least 18 wins and two second-place NSIC finishes, and was NSIC Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1995. Including her previous years coaching at North Dakota State University and Montana State, she finished her career among the top 15 active NCAA volleyball coaches, with 484 victories.
During her tenure are BSU, Palivec coached 13 All-NSIC student-athletes and 17 All-Academic team members.
Palivec lettered in five sports at Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree physical education. She played on the IU women’s basketball team that made an AIAW Final Four appearance in 1973. In addition to coaching, Palivec was actively involved in training coaches and athletes through the MSHSL and USA Volleyball. She is a Hall of Fame inductee at both NDSU and BSU and with the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association. She also earned the Leanne Grotke Award from Indiana University in 2017 and the Special Merit Award at the Minnesota National Girls & Women in Sports Day Celebration in 2018. Today, Palivec actively volunteers within the Bemidji community after working as a professor at the University for 22 years.
James McNear III, Concordia University, St. Paul (2002-06)
James McNear III was a three-sport athlete during his tenure at Concordia University, St. Paul. He was a four-year starter on the Golden Bear football team from 2002 to 2005, had a standout season in track & field in 2005 and as a fifth year senior, was a reserve outfielder for the 2006 CSP Baseball team that tied the school wins record (29-12-1) and finished 3rd in the NSIC (13-5).
McNear quarterbacked the Golden Bears to a pair of NSIC Championships in 2003 and 2005, leading the program to its first two postseason games in school history as CSP earned an invitation to the Mineral Water Bowl in both seasons.
The Golden Bears went 33-13 during the McNear era, including a 24-7 mark in NSIC play. As a starting quarterback, McNear led CSP to a 19-0 record at Griffin Stadium.
McNear was a Harlon Hill candidate in 2005 after earning multiple All-American accolades and NSIC Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was a preseason All-American that season and was twice named National Player of the Week. In 2003, McNear earned his first NSIC Offensive Player of the Year honor and his first All-NSIC first team honor. He was named All-NSIC second team in 2004 and was an honorable mention selection in 2002 along with being named NSIC Newcomer of the Year.
McNear was the first player in NCAA Division II history to record four straight seasons of at least 2,500 yards of total offense; record 2,500-plus career rushing and 8,000-plus career passing yards; record 3,000-plus yards rushing and 9,000-plus yards passing; and 300-plus passing and 200-plus rushing in a single game (309p, 215r vs BSU). McNear ended his career ranked second in NCAA Division II football history in career total offense (12,447 total; 9,420 passing & 3,027 rushing) and still ranks No. 23 all-time today. The dual threat quarterback combined for 105 total touchdowns (68p, 37r) in his career, and as a senior had an 18-6 TD-INT ratio with 2,440 passing yards and 1,249 rushing yards with a 7.2 per carry average and 12 touchdowns for a career-high 30 touchdown season, picking up his team’s second NSIC title.
In 2005, McNear was named NSIC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after he was the NSIC Championship high point performer. During the championship he won the 55m hurdles, the triple jump and the high jump. During the outdoor season he again earned meet high point performer honors after competing in six events, including winning the long jump and finishing second in the triple jump. He set CSP records in the following events: triple jump (45-6.75), long jump (22-2.5) and heptathlon.
McNear went on to play quarterback for the Omaha Beef from 2006 to 2013 in one of the top Indoor Football Leagues, earning team MVP honors five times and league MVP honors in 2012 with numerous All-League honors. McNear was inducted into Omaha Beef Ring of Honor in 2015.
Following his career with the Beef, McNear was employed with Coca-Cola refreshments and now works for Orbis as a regional account manager in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also had stints as quarterback coach at Northern Iowa Area CC and Iowa Western CC from 2006 to 2009.
McNear and his wife Krista have four children, James IV, Taylor, Logan, Cora.
Nate Hendrickson, Minnesota State University Moorhead (1995-98)
Nate Hendrickson excelled at wrestling during his tenure at Minnesota State University Moorhead from 1995-98. Hendrickson ranks second all-time in wins at MSUM with 122, finishing with a stellar 122-13 record. He was a four-time NCAA Division II and NAIA All-American, highlighted by a national championship at 167 pounds in 1997. He was named the 1997 NCAA Division II Outstanding Wrestler and the 1996-97 NCAA Division II Athlete of the Year as he was the only undefeated wrestler in DII during that season, going 33-0. He was also four-time Successful Farming Magazine First Team All-American.
Hendrickson is also one of the 11 student-athletes in the history of the NSIC to be a four-time individual champion as he did so at 158 and 167 pounds. He is also the only wrester in the history of the NSIC to be named NSIC Wrestler of the Year three times (1996, 1997, 1998). Hendrickson never lost an NSIC match, winning all his dual matches and NSIC tournament matches.
The Menahga, Minn., native was inducted into the MSUM Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010.
Hendrickson attended Menahga High School, graduating from there in 1994. His high school record was 175-26-2, ranking as the fourth most wins in Minnesota at the time. His was a three-time placer at state.
Hendrickson graduated from Moorhead State in 2000 with a degree in Construction Management. He has served as a youth elementary wrestling coach at Menahga/Sebeka and is a volunteer assistant varsity coach. He has served on the Sebeka School Board of Education and served on the MSUM Construction Management Advisory Board. Today he works as Construction Site Superintendent/Quality Assurance for ICS Consulting, Inc. in Duluth, Minnesota.
Nate and his wife Lisa have six children; Drew, Lindsay, Megan, Tara, and Ethan, and Janelle.
Ryan Miller, Northern State University (1994-98)
A native of Mitchell, South Dakota, Ryan Miller attended Northern State University from 1994-98, during which he was a two-time All-NSIC and All-Academic selection. He led the teams to four straight conference championships and the 1998 NCAA North Central Region title. He was named a Division II All-American and an All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Academic selection as a senior in 1997-98. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Northern State in 2000.
In the 1998 North Central Region Championship, Miller scored 45 points, making nine 3-pointers, leading Northern State to an 88-82 victory over in-state rival South Dakota State to advance to the first Elite 8 in the history of NSIC Men’s Basketball.
Miller’s name is abundant in the NSU record book as he ranks tenth all-time in scoring with 1,802 points and is 17th in career rebounding with 573. He is fourth all-time in points scored and points per game in a season with 726 (22.7) in 1998. Miller also holds the NSU single-game record for free throw attempts with 28 during the 1997-98 season.
Miller attended Mitchell High School where he was a two-time all-state selection, leading the school to the 1994 state championship.
Miller was drafted into the CBA in 1999 and played professionally for the Fargo-Moorhead Beez of International Basketball Association that season. Miller has been an assistant coach at Pepperdine, Memphis, New Mexico, Auburn and UNLV before landing at his current position as assistant head coach at Texas Christian University. In his second season at TCU, Miller helped the Horned Frogs earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in 20 seasons. Over the course of his career, Miller has coached under some of the biggest names in college basketball in John Calipari, Steve Alford, Tony Barbee and Dave Rice. Even more impressive though is the number of student-athletes Miller has helped send to the NBA as an assistant coach, including J. R. Giddens, Darington Hobson, Rodney Carney, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Rashad Vaughn, Christian Wood, Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell.
Miller and his wife, Marna, have two daughters.
Andrea (Schreier) Sawatzky, Southwest Minnesota State University (1997-2001)
Andrea (Schreier) Sawatzky was a four-year letterwinner for the Southwest State University women’s basketball program earning numerous individual accolades and helping the program reach new heights.
Originally from Manson, Iowa, Sawatzky played in 111 career games and holds the school record with 409 career free throws made and ranks second in school history in 3-point field goal pct. (42.7). She also ranks fourth in school history with 1,570 points, fifth in rebounds with 689 and still holds the school single-season free throw percentage record (89.1).
During her senior season in 2000-01, Sawatzky was named the NSIC Player of the Year, leading the NSIC in field goal percentage. and averaging 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in 30 games. She was named first team Daktronics All-Region and WBCA honorable mention All-America and helped lead the Mustangs to the 2001 NSIC championship and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.
A three-time first team All-NSIC honoree, Sawatzky was named NSIC Newcomer of the Year in 1997-98 and led SMSU in rebounding all four seasons, while leading the team in scoring for three seasons.
Sawatzky, a kindergarten teacher in the Lac Qui Parle Valley school district, lives in Appleton, Minnesota, with her husband, Scott, and their three children Rylee, Carson, Maya.
Emily (Schroeder) Jones, Wayne State College (2005-07)
Emily (Schroeder) Jones was a dominant volleyball player in her three seasons at Wayne State College from 2005-07. She was a First Team All-NSIC selection as a junior and senior and became the Wildcats’ first-ever All-American as Jones was named AVCA and Daktronics Second Team All-American in 2006 and 2007.
In just three seasons, Jones finished just two kills behind the all-time career leader at WSC with 1,649. She ranks first and second in single season kills, setting a school record with 599 kills as a junior and 591 kills during her senior season.
The middle hitter from Belden, Nebraska (Laurel-Concord HS) led the Wildcats in kills (591) and blocks (205) during her senior season and ranked first in the NSIC in blocking (1.54 bpg) and second in kills (4.44 kpg). She ranked third in NCAA Division II in blocks per game and 27th in kills per game. Jones was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division II National Volleyball Player of the Week after recording back-to-back triple doubles against No. 9 Southwest Minnesota State and MSU Moorhead to help the Wildcats win the NSIC Volleyball Tournament title. She had a school record 32 kills in one match and also has a school record 13 blocks in three different matches.
Jones played on three NCAA Tournament Teams at Wayne State while excelling in the classroom, earning ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Second Team honors as a junior and was a two-time NSIC All-Academic selection.
Jones is married to former WSC baseball All-American Dustin Jones. They reside in Elkhorn, Nebraska with their two children, Allie and Mara.
Cyndy (Schubbe) Jones, Winona State University (1999-2002)
Cyndy (Schubbe) Jones was a dominant pitching force for Winona State University, earning NSIC Pitcher of the Year honors in both 2001 and 2002. Her name is at or near the top of every major pitching record in the Warrior record books, including the most career wins (85), innings pitched (862.1), games started (122) appearances (146) and complete games (107). Her record for career strikeouts (773) and shutouts (36) stood until the 2012 season.
Jones was a three-time All-NSIC selection, a two-time NSIC All-Tournament Team member and earned All-Region & All-District honors in 2002.
During her career the Warriors had a 132-84-2 record. Jones finished her career with a 1.36 ERA and one no hitter. Her 28 wins in 2002 is tied for the most in a season by a Winona State pitcher, and includes the record for shutouts, with over half of her wins recorded without surrendering a run (15).
Jones rejoined the Winona State coaching ranks in 2011 having served as an assistant coach for the Warriors from 2002-08. During her tenure as pitching coach, Jones helped lead the Warriors to four NSIC Championships, including the 2018 NSIC regular season and tournament titles.
Jones was inducted into the Winona State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. A Magna Cum Laude graduate, Jones was named the Winona State Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2002. She graduated with a Baccalaureate degree in nursing in 2002, a Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2010, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in 2016, all from Winona State. In addition to her coaching duties, Jones is an assistant professor in the Nursing Department at Winona State.
Jones lives in Winona with her husband Greg and their two children Carson and Piper.
The Noel Olson Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes the singular commitment of former NSIC coach and Athletic Administrator, Noel Olson, to the advancement of NSIC visibility, credibility, and excellence throughout the nation during his tenure in the league. The award is intended to honor individuals who, as volunteers, have made significant contributions to the NSIC as a whole. On a periodic basis, one or more individuals receive the award in appreciation of efforts to support the NSIC activities and/or athletic programs within any NSIC member institution(s) or the NSIC conference office. The award recipients are nominated by each of the NSIC's 16 institutions and selected by the NSIC Hall of Fame Committee.
A member of the Bemidji State football team from 1969-72, Bowen has been a tireless volunteer and advocate for BSU since his graduation with a degree in education in 1973. Despite a successful and lengthy career in higher education at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., Bowen never strayed far from his alma mater.
As a volunteer, he served eight years on the BSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, including six years as an officer. In two years as the board’s president, he represented the Alumni Association at numerous events throughout the state and region. After completing two terms of service on the Alumni Board, Bowen was asked to help lead the formation of the Alumni B-Club and was a founding member of the National Alumni Football Committee. While the two groups were different, Bowen led the charge to help communicate, engage and support BSU Athletics. As part of the B-Club executive committee, he helped begin the B-Club Challenge in 2015, which has since raised more than $100,000 for BSU Athletic scholarships. Bowen served as the B-Club’s president for two years and under his direction the organization began a successful partnership with BSU’s Twin Cities Alumni Chapter to develop a metro-based golf tournament, which is now in its fifth year. In addition, he helps host the football reunion held each year during BSU’s Homecoming festivities and is a member of BSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame committee.
A popular emcee of the B-Club Athletic Hall of Fame induction brunch and various Beaver Pride luncheons, Bowen readily offers to dedicate his time and expertise to assist his alma mater.
In 2014, Bowen was honored with Bemidji State’s Alumni Service Award.
In addition to his longtime commitment to BSU, Bowen has spent many years volunteering for athletic groups in his hometown of Hermantown, Minn. He has coached many youth sports teams, including a stint as a volunteer golf coach at Hermantown High School.
Courtesy of the NSIC