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    Medal of Honor Memories: Jennifer Averill



    May 30, 2014


    Northwestern Medal of Honor All-Time Winners

    EVANSTON, Ill. - On Tuesday, June 3, Northwestern will unveil the school's 2014 winners of the Big Ten Medal Of Honor. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Conference's most prestigious award, which was first presented in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work. Big Ten schools currently feature more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 24 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction.

    In preparation for Tuesday's announcement, caught up with several former Wildcats winners and asked what it meant to them to be part of this exclusive group of Big Ten Conference student-athletes. Today we catch up with 1986 Honda Broderick Cup Award winner and 1987 Medal of Honor recipient Jennifer Averill.

    Name: Jennifer Averill

    Graduation year: 1987

    College major: SESP

    Current location: Winston-Salem, NC the past 22 years

    Current occupation: Head Field Hockey Coach at Wake Forest

    In three paragraphs or less, tell us what you've been up to since you left Evanston:

    Every job I've taken has had NU influence as you will see. Worked in Chicago for about a year and moved to Colorado to be near family and to figure what I really wanted to do. Two things kept hitting me in the face, my passion for sport and family. Nancy Stevens (my coach at NU) got me an interview with Dartmouth (AD at Dartmouth Ted Leland - former Asst AD at NU) and two weeks later I moved to NH. Spent a year there until Rick Hartzell (former NU Asst. AD hired me as the Head Lax, Head Field Hockey coach. Spent 3 years there and was hired in 1992 at Wake. (My AD now and for the past 21 years has been Ron Wellman - former NU baseball coach).

    The sport I fell in love with at age 14 has been a blessing, almost as much as my family. My partner Karen and I have two children Nicolas (9) and Gianna (7). Being in college environment keeps you young at heart. It also reminds you on a daily basis how beautiful and powerful young minds and souls can be.

    What was your personal athletic highlight during your time at Northwestern?

    To me it's never been about personal highlights as much as the team. To me to be able to represent the name on our back in any Big Ten title or National title was the ultimate.

    What is your favorite Northwestern sports memory as a spectator (either while you were in school or since)?

    Dressing up at NU vs. IU game as chairs and printing, "throw me Bobby - throw me" when Bobby Knight was big into throwing chairs.

    What does the Big Ten Medal Of Honor mean to you?

    The Big Ten Medal of Honor represents a tradition. A tradition based upon the pursuit and attainment of our team's collective excellence. And with that tradition comes a responsibility to lead in ways that would make your Institution proud.

    What is your favorite non-sports memory of your time at Northwestern?

    Taking the L into Chicago for the Art Museum or good food and entertainment - especially on Tuesdays - Ladies night! Or sneaking in to see previews of the Waamu shows.

    Is there a person you met at Northwestern (teacher, coach, roommate, etc) that had a sizable effect on you as a person?

    Cynthia Patterson - the greatest academic and life advisor ever! She was by far the most consistent person at calling all of us out! She taught me that my lack of ability to compete academically was an act of ignorance and selfishness. She taught me humility and pride in everything I did at NU.

    In your opinion, what makes Northwestern University special?

    Geographically it's a beautiful campus and so convenient to Chicago. Academically you can choose from six different undergraduate schools. Athletically you get to compete for national titles in a big time conference. But it always comes down to the people - and what makes NU so special are the faculty, the coaches, administrators and diverse student body.

    When was the last time you were on campus?

    I was back in 2008.

    How much purple is in your closet?

    Not a great deal but plenty of purple in my daughter's closet.


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