The Athletic Hall of Fame at Nebraska Wesleyan University will induct seven new members as a part of Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The ceremony will be part of an induction breakfast, which starts at 9 a.m., in the Patio Dining Room of the Roy G. Story Student Center. Tickets are on sale to the public through the Alumni Relations office and available to members of the media at no cost through the Sports Information office.
Since 1970, NWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame has recognized the outstanding contributions of former student-athletes by inducting teams and individuals, as well as other strong supporters of the athletic program. Profiles on the Class of 2007 follow:
Michelle M. Forsberg ’95
Michelle Forsberg was one of the greatest softball players ever to put on a Nebraska Wesleyan uniform. Today, the power-hitting third baseman from Lincoln East still dominates many categories in the NWU record books.
Forsberg hit five home runs as a senior to establish a new single-season record at that time and finished her career with 13 round trippers, a mark which still sits atop Nebraska Wesleyan’s all-time charts. Along with her ability to hit the long ball came Forsberg’s knack for getting her teammates across the plate. She also holds the record for most career runs batted in with 104 and career sacrifice flies.
In addition, Forsberg finished her career ranked second in games played (139), hits (162), runs (92), doubles (22), triples (12) and fielding assists (313). Her career batting average of .363 still ranks fourth in Nebraska Wesleyan history, and she also remains among the all-time leaders in stolen bases at NWU with 20.
Forsberg’s accomplishments earned her NAIA All-District 11 and All-Nebraska/Iowa Athletic Conference (NIAC) honors in each of her four seasons, and her individual success helped the team reach new heights. The Plainswomen were NAIA District 11 Runners-up in 1992 and 1993, and as a junior in 1994, Forsberg helped Nebraska Wesleyan to its best overall record (24-19) and most wins, marks which stood until 2004.
Jay A. Spearman ’95
Jay Spearman, a 6-foot-5 forward from Sutton, Neb., is among the best all-around men’s basketball players in Nebraska Wesleyan history.
His 2,168 career points rank second all-time at NWU, and more than 12 years after his playing days came to an end, he still ranks among the top 10 in 13 categories on the team’s statistical charts. In addition to his scoring total, his career ranks are: second in field goals and blocked shots; fourth in 3-point percentage, 3-pointers made, steals and free throws made; eighth in rebounds and assists; and 10th in field goal percentage.
In 1992, he broke NWU’s first-year scoring record with 528 points, surpassing Don Boldebuck’s record, which had stood since 1952.
As a senior, Spearman helped lead the Plainsmen to a pair of victories in the NCAA Division III Playoffs. He averaged 20.8 points a game that season, with his highest scoring performance (37 points) coming against Wayne State College.
Spearman garnered many honors in his years at Nebraska Wesleyan, including Omaha World-Herald State College Player of the Year as a junior. The four-time All-NIAC First Team performer was also selected to the Lincoln Journal Star All-State team three times, making Second Team as a sophomore and earning College Player of the Year both as a junior and senior.
Steven J. Taylor ’89
Steve Taylor was a force in the middle of the football team’s defensive line in the late 1980s. A four-year starter and letter winner, Taylor came to Nebraska Wesleyan from Omaha Roncalli and developed into a Second Team NAIA All-American in 1988 as he helped the Plainsmen to both a NIAC Championship and a berth in the NAIA Playoffs.
Despite being undersized for a nose guard, Taylor accumulated 70 solo tackles and 148 assisted tackles during his career. He led the Wesleyan defensive line in tackles for three of his four seasons, and many of his stops were behind the line of scrimmage. Taylor finished with 25 career tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks (for a total of 167 yards lost) and 3 fumble recoveries. On the NWU all-time charts, he still ranks eighth in career sacks, and his single-season total of 7.5 in 1988 is tied for 10th.
As a senior, Taylor’s best games came against Midland Lutheran College and Dana College. Against the Warriors, he recorded nine tackles, seven of them solo, and he added three quarterback sacks. Versus Dana, he produced nine tackles and 2.5 sacks.
He was a two-time All-NIAC performer, made the Omaha World-Herald All-State College Team and as a senior in 1988, Taylor was also recognized for his efforts in the classroom, being named to the GTE Academic All-America Second Team.
Joni Westland Scheef ’96
Four-year letter winner Joni (Westland) Scheef, a hurdler at NWU from 1993-96, ranks as one of Nebraska Wesleyan’s most highly decorated track and field athletes.
Westland won her first national title in the 55-meter hurdles at the 1995 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. Her second crown was a joint effort as she teamed with Jenny Blenderman, Amy Cooper and Amanda Jurgenson to win the 4x400-meter relay at the same meet in 1996. Their time of 3:57.69 set a new team record.
A few months later, Westland earned All-America status in four different events at the 1996 NCAA Div. III Outdoor Championships, a feat accomplished by only two other women in NWU history. She finished fifth in the 4x100 relay, sixth in the 4x400 relay, seventh in the 100 hurdles and eighth in the 400 intermediate hurdles.
As a senior, Westland was a seven-time conference champion, which included two relays and five individual NIAC titles. She also won the outdoor 400 hurdles at the conference meet all four years. Her career yielded a total of 11 All-America awards, and she was a member of five teams that finished among the top 20 at the NCAA Div. III Championships.
Westland, a graduate of Waverly High School, still ranks on several of Nebraska Wesleyan’s all-time charts, including fourth in the 55-meter hurdles and second in the 440 (indoor), third in the 100 hurdles and second in the 400 hurdles (outdoor).
Robert E. Wright ’94
Former professional football player Bobby Wright was one of the most formidable running threats to ever set foot in Abel Stadium. The Beatrice native made a name for himself as a Plainsman from 1988-91 and went on to play in the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues.
An Honorable Mention NAIA All-American in 1991, Wright rushed for eight scores and gained 1,138 yards on the ground, which was the second highest single-season rushing total at the time. His best single-game rushing performance came against Midland Lutheran College in 1991 when he ran for a career-high 247 yards.
For his career, Wright still ranks third all-time at NWU in career rushing yards with 2,184 (5.59 per carry) and seventh in scoring (23 touchdowns, 138 points). The Plainsmen were crowned NIAC champions in three of Wright’s four seasons, and they also made three NAIA playoff appearances (1988, 1989 and 1991).
Wright was a First Team All-NIAC selection as both a junior and senior. He played in the 1991 Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and was invited to the NFL combine. The NFL Draft Report rated him the sixth best running back in the country, and the Denver Broncos signed Wright as a free agent for the 1992 season. He spent the 1993 season as a member of the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the Canadian Football League and played for the Milwaukee Mustangs of the Arena Football League in 1994.
Heather J. Wubbels ’94
Heather Wubbels, a Norris High School graduate, was an accomplished point guard for the Plainswomen basketball team from 1989-93. A four-year letter winner, Wubbels led the team in assists every season she played and finished her career as Nebraska Wesleyan’s leader with 328 assists and 193 steals. She still ranks second on both all-time charts.
Her best statistical year was the 1990-91 season when she averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 per game. Her 103 assists as a sophomore established a single-season record at NWU. She also set a Nebraska Wesleyan single-game record with 15 free throws made in a 1991 game against Teikyo Westmar University.
In the final game of her career, Wubbels recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, which tied the team mark for assists in a single game. Wubbels was statistically consistent, averaging better than 9.5 points and 3.7 assists per game as both a junior and senior when she garnered All-NIAC honorable mentions. She also received honorable mention from the Omaha World-Herald as a junior.
In addition to her success on the basketball court, Wubbels was also a member of the Nebraska Wesleyan softball team in 1990 and 1991. On the NWU softball charts, she still ranks among the leaders in career sacrifice flies (fourth) and single-season putouts (seventh).
Spirit of the Plainsman Award
Former Lincoln Journal Star sportswriter Mark Derowitsch is Nebraska Wesleyan’s Spirit of the Plainsman Award recipient for 2007. Derowitsch covered NWU athletics for 14 years and played an important role in the program’s growth by sharing the stories of many small college student-athletes with local readers.
He first started as the Journal Star’s beat reporter for Nebraska Wesleyan in the fall of 1990 and retained that position until he left the newspaper in February of 2004. Derowitsch covered football and men’s basketball games, as well as track and cross country meets, and wrote many feature stories over the years.
According to Derowitsch, one of his best memories was covering the 1996-97 Plainsmen basketball team, which reached the NCAA Division III National Championship game. “Mitch Mosser hit a game-winning three-pointer at Snyder Arena to send NWU to the Final Four,” Derowitsch said. “Seeing Snyder Arena packed for national tournament games was tremendous.”
He also enjoyed covering men’s basketball games in Taylor Gym, NWU’s home court before Snyder Arena was built. “There was no better venue to watch basketball in Nebraska during the 1980s and early 1990s than Taylor Gym, especially when Doane came to Lincoln,” Derowitsch said.
Former Nebraska Wesleyan Sports Information Director Jim Angele worked with Derowitsch from 1991-98. “Mark was excellent at his job,” Angele said. “His stories always accurately reflected the game, and he was accurate with his quotes of athletes and coaches. I never had a coach complain about Mark covering a Wesleyan event. For his efforts as a reporter, I know that Mark is very deserving of the Spirit of the Plainsman Award.”
In addition to his coverage of NWU while with the Journal Star, he also served as the beat reporter for the Lincoln Stars and Lincoln Saltdogs. Derowitsch is currently the public relations manager at the Arbor Day Foundation.