Three recent graduates and one of the best football teams in school history make up the Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2018.
This year's inductees are Ashlee Crowder '12, Amanda (Putt) Eccleston '12, Andre Holmes '12 and the 1969 Charger football team. The class was chosen by the athletic hall of fame committee, made up of former Hillsdale College student-athletes, administrators and contributors from the past 40 years of school history.
Simply put, Crowder goes down in Charger volleyball history as its most accomplished player. A three-time All-American and two-time GLIAC Player of the Year, Crowder holds the school record for kills in a career with 1,703 and was the top offensive player on the 2011 squad that won the Midwest Regional championship and advanced to the first NCAA Division II Final Four of any Hillsdale College team in a team sport.
She started her career by being named the 2008 GLIAC Freshman of the Year, just the second player in school history to earn that honor. In 2009 she led the Chargers to the first of their three consecutive GLIAC regular season and tournament championships. In 2010 she upped her game even more, being named the Midwest Region Player of the Year as Hillsdale went 29-2, winning 28 in a row during the season. Her career was capped by the historic 2011 campaign where she had 473 kills, a .354 hitting percentage and 228 digs. That team captured the GLIAC Tournament title on Ferris State's home floor, then won the regional championship at home, defeating the University of Indianapolis 3-1 on November 20, 2011.
Crowder has stayed closely connected to the sport of volleyball since graduation. She is currently an assistant coach with the University of Indianapolis.
Holmes was a record-setting wide receiver for Hillsdale College from 2007-10 and helped lead the Chargers to their first two NCAA Division II playoff appearances, coming in 2009 and 2010. He still holds Hillsdale's single-season record for receiving yards (1,368) and the career mark for receiving yards (3,092). In 2010 he caught a school-record 104 passes, which was highlighted by a single-game record of 16 catches in the team's playoff game at St. Cloud State.
Holmes has carved out a nice career in the NFL since graduating from Hillsdale College. He made his professional debut with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 before joining the Oakland Raiders in 2013. He led Oakland in receiving yards in 2014 before joining the Buffalo Bills prior to the start of the 2017 season.
As of November 28, 2017, Holmes has played in 76 NFL games with 115 receptions for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Eccleston, who was known as Amanda Putt when she competed for the Hillsdale College women's track team, established a standard of national excellence during her career. She exploded onto the scene in the 2011-12 school year, winning three NCAA Division II championships.
At the 2012 NCAA Division II Indoor Track Championships, Eccleston took first place in the mile run with a time of 4:47.84. Her finishing kick in that race was spectacular, completing the final 800 meters in just 2 minutes and 15 seconds. She later won the national championship in the 800 with a time of 2:09.15, more than one second better than that year's national runner up. Her two titles helped Hillsdale to a then-program best fifth-place finish at NCAAs.
At the 2012 Outdoor Track Championships, Eccleston won her third national championship, taking first in the 1500 with a time of 4:36.92.
She was named the 2011-12 USTFCCCA National Division II Women's Track Athlete of the Year, won the GLIAC Commissioner's Award twice and earned All-American status in five different seasons: 2011 indoor track, 2011 outdoor track, 2011 cross country, 2012 indoor track and 2012 outdoor track. Eccleston was one of Hillsdale's finest student-athletes, graduating with an overall grade point average of 3.79 and graduated with her degree in biochemistry. She also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center in May 2012.
Now a professional runner, Eccleston came within .03 seconds of qualifying for the United States Olympic team in the 1500 meter run at the 2016 Olympic Trials. She is a volunteer assistant cross country coach at the University of Michigan, where she continues to train in hopes of making the 2020 Olympic team. She currently competes professionally for Brooks Running.
Before the 1968 football season, the Hillsdale College Board of Trustees voted to apply the nickname "Chargers" to its athletic teams. The 1969 football team quickly made that nickname a household word, crushing all opponents in its way as it qualified for the NAIA national playoffs for just the second time in school history.
The '69 Chargers finished that season with an 8-2 record, including 8-1 in the regular season. The team led all of NAIA by scoring an average of 33.1 points per game during the regular season. Over the final three games of that season, Hillsdale outscored its opposition by a combined total of 145-8 before losing to Concordia-Moorhead in the NAIA playoffs.
Two members of the 1969 team - Chester Marcol and Archie Robinson - were selected in the 1972 NFL draft. Marcol went on to be named Rookie of the Year with the Green Bay Packers and remains the highest-drafted player to ever come out of Hillsdale, 34th overall. Robinson was selected by the Miami Dolphins the same year the franchise went 14-0, winning Super Bowl VIII.
Tailback Dick Kraatz led all NAIA players in scoring that season, while placekicker Chester Marcol was in the middle of a record-setting career. Three members of that team, Marcol, Archie Robinson and Joe Vijuk, have been individually inducted into the Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame.