There’s no doubt that in the past year, COVID-19 has impacted every part of Millikin students’ lives.
From canceled events to virtual learning, no part of the college experience has remained unaffected.
Millikin University student-athletes have become familiar with the struggles of practicing and competing through a pandemic all too well.
Canceled practices became canceled games and eventually canceled seasons for many Big Blue student-athletes. But while sustaining the motivation to continue the hard work necessary to be successful during a time filled with uncertainty, Millikin’s student-athletes remained disciplined and focused. Their dedication is easily seen through the championships, honors and record-breaking victories achieved by Millikin athletes this spring season.
Notably, the Millikin women’s basketball team won the 2021 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship by defeating Illinois Wesleyan 72-59 on March 9 at Griswold Center in Decatur. This victory marked the first CCIW tournament win for Big Blue women’s basketball since 2005. The team finished their season with an 11-3 record.
Additionally, three members of the women’s basketball team were named to the CCIW All-Conference Women’s Basketball First Team. Freshman guard Elyce Knudsen was named CCIW’s Newcomer of the Year as a unanimous First Team selection.
Senior forward Jordan Hildebrand was also a unanimous choice for the All-Conference First Team and she earned CCIW Player of the Week honors in March. Sophomore forward Bailey Coffman was named to the All-Conference First Team as well.
With CCIW rules prohibiting fans at meets, Millikin’s wrestling team faced an unfamiliar atmosphere during their competitions. Despite the new territory, Big Blue wrestling won its second consecutive CCIW Wrestling Championship on February 13 at the Carver Center in Rock Island, Ill.
Along with winning his fourth CCIW Championship, senior Bradan Birt also brought a national championship honor back to Decatur, winning the National Title in the 165 pound weight class at the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) DIII Coaches Association National Championships in Coralville, Iowa on March 12-13. Birt, as well as senior Logan Hagerbaumer and sophomore Peter McCusker, earned MWCA All- American honors at the event.
The Millikin University baseball team saw a historic start to their 2021 season, posting a 10-1 overall record and a CCIW record of 3-0 after defeating North Park on March 21. Since that victory, the Big Blue men have continued their impressive season, winning six straight games and improving their record to 12-3 overall and 5-2 in CCIW competition. The 2021 season marks the best start to Millikin’s baseball season since 1947, when the Big Blue went 10-1 before finishing the year 10-5.
While tradition has football games played in the fall, pandemic precautions have pushed Millikin football to play a shortened spring season. On March 20, with limited spectators permitted at Frank M. Lindsay Field in Decatur, the Big Blue men opened their season with a 38-28 victory over the Illinois Wesleyan Titans. This win broke a ten-game losing streak against the Titans.
Following their victory, members of Millikin’s offensive line including senior Kenneth Williams, sophomore Jorge Hernandez, junior Alex Vogt, senior Sauvignon Hayes and junior Brandt Williamson were named to the D3football. com National Team of the Week on March 23. Linebacker David Jones was also named to the team for his performance in the win.
Through the struggles constantly presented by COVID-19, weather and uncertainty, Millikin University athletics have shown discipline, patience and perseverance. The success of these teams, along with such teams as women’s soccer, women’s tennis and softball, is evidence of the Big Blue spirit.
While Big Blue Athletics continue their hard work and success in both the classroom and competition, Millikin University is dedicated to supporting them. Through the new locker room project, Millikin is aiming to construct a new freestanding building for its athletes that will both alleviate congestion at Griswold Center and allow the University to host CCIW championship competitions.
To support athletics, visit millikin.edu/give