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INA, Ill. (April 30, 2014) – Last weekend, eight former Lady Warrior golfers took their places among Rend Lake College’s best athletes as they were inducted into the college’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Inducted at the 15th annual event were Bobbie Jo (Bivens) Decker from the 1999-2001 seasons, and the 2004-05 Region 24 Championship team of Nicole Adams, Casey (Biddinger) Spencer, Courtney (Doughty) Poole, Ashley (Hemann) DeSelm, Danielle Kaufman, Meredith Mosel, and Surita (Risseeuw) Du Plessis.
First to be inducted was Decker of Murphysboro, the only two-time Region 24 Medalist at RLC and for Head Coach Cindy Corn. The seasons were the first two years for Corn as head coach, and she said it was a learning curve for everyone involved.
“When we would play in tournaments, you would see this competitive person come out and she wouldn’t smile unless she was playing well,” said Corn. “She played on my first team, and back then, I didn’t know any better, so I just played them against four-year schools all the time. I didn’t think it was a big deal when we got second or third against all four-year schools. I’m starting to realize how difficult that is. If you look at her stats and some of her scores, you can see she was just tremendous.”
As a golfer at Petersburg (Ill.) Porta High School, Decker was a standout, being named the Most Valuable Player four times and placing fifth in the Illinois High School Association State Finals. Corn said she was determined to sign Decker as a Lady Warrior for her first year.
“I wanted Bobbie Jo signed on the dotted line. She called me the day I was headed to sign her and she said, ‘Coach, it’s going to snow.’ I knew I was getting to Springfield before somebody else found out about this girl. Signing her was one of the highlights of that year,” said Corn. “We had some really good players and we beat a lot of four-year schools. Bobbie Jo was a big part of that. The team was always under the gun and they pushed each other. I think that’s why we were so successful.”
During her two years, Decker won Regionals back-to-back, something that hadn’t been done before or since. She is only the second Lady Warrior golfer to be inducted as an individual to the Hall of Fame. Decker said she was humbled by the honor.
“When I look at my time at Rend Lake College, I remember all the memories we made. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “Being on coach’s first team was just as much a learning experience for her as it was for all of us, being away from home for the first time. I want to thank all my teammates for those two years, because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve accomplished. They pushed me every step of the way. I also have to thank my biggest fan, my mother, who died three years ago. She was always there, right behind me, and I know she’s so proud right now.”
Corn also spoke about season highlights for the 2004-05 team, including individual stories for each player. Courtney Poole, Ashley DeSelm, Danielle Kaufman, and Meredith Mosel were present at the induction ceremony.
“Courtney graduated early and moved on to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to be a teacher. I remember she just let everything roll off and she was a good sport. Meredith came in as a freshman and had a great year. She beat me at the Benton Gold Cup, so I’ve had that picture on my wall to tell me to work harder ever since,” said Corn. “Ashley, you’re one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached. I remember you were a cheerleader and very competitive with a great golf swing. I’m sure you’re a big part of why we had such success for two years. Danielle, you were the ornery one. She was always playing practical jokes on people. It was such an exciting year with this group of girls.”
Nicole Adams was unable to attend the induction as she is currently serving in the National Guard. Casey Spencer and Surita Du Plessis were unable to make travel arrangements.
“Surita was a tremendous girl to coach. She’s from South Africa and couldn’t make the trip on such short notice, but she was a key part of this team,” said Corn. “I remember Nicole was as smart as a tack, and there were a few times we butted heads. I hate that she couldn’t be here today, because she was a big part of us finishing fourth in the nation that year. I also remember Casey hitting a hole-in-one with the two other girls in her group. I don’t know if that’s ever happened in the history of golf that all three girls made a hole-in-one at the same tournament.”
Kaufman spoke at the ceremony, saying she owed her success to Corn and her Lady Warriors teammates. She is currently a golf professional at TPC River’s Bend golf club in Maineville, Ohio.
“Coach Corn, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. She was always there for us, through everything. To the 2004-2005 team, you’re my best friends. We have so many memories together and I will never forget them. Thank you for inducting us; it’s an honor,” said Kaufman.
RLC President Terry Wilkerson was also on hand at the ceremony to thank the inductees, and their family and friends, for making the dinner to acknowledge their accomplishments as Lady Warriors.
“On behalf of the college and as president, it’s my duty, privilege and pleasure to welcome you to campus and let you know we’re proud of all of our students, especially our athletes who represent us out in the public,” said Wilkerson. “When we get the chance to honor and induct them into the Hall of Fame, we do that.”