Thursday, June 20, 2019

UIS promotes Copeland to head coach for baseball

University of Illinois Springfield promoted assistant baseball coach Ryan Copeland to the head job Friday.

Copeland, who has been the Prairie Stars pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the past four seasons, replaces Chris Ramirez, who went 199-121 in six seasons and was the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2018.

Ramirez left to become the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina after the Stars reached the NCAA Division II super regionals for the first time in school history.

"It is a tremendous honor to be named the next head coach at the University of Illinois Springfield," said Copeland in a press release. "Over the last four years, I have seen the remarkable progress that has been made. Our players will continue to be held to the highest standard, not just on the field, but in the classroom and in the community."

This story appeared in the State Journal-Register on June 15, 2019.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Women's Soccer: Glenwood grad Graves named assistant at UIS

Kelly Graves, a 2015 Chatham Glenwood High School graduate and three-time Central State Eight Conference girls soccer player of the year, is coming back home.

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer coach, Erin Egolf, announced on Tuesday that UIS had hired Graves as an assistant coach. “I am thrilled to have Kelly join our coaching staff,” Egolf said in a statement. “She comes to UIS with a fantastic playing résumé as well as a proven track record as a top student and dedicated leader. Kelly has great energy, a high level of soccer knowledge and a competitive nature that will lend itself very well to the direction our team is headed."

“She is also very charismatic and relatable, which will resonate with our current players, alumni and future Prairie Stars. Kelly is going to be a huge asset to this program moving forward, and I couldn’t be more excited that she said yes to UIS.”

“I couldn’t be happier to be back in my hometown, especially in the capacity of a collegiate women’s soccer coach,” Graves said in a press release. “UIS is the whole package and I am so humbled to have this opportunity to learn from Erin as her assistant, and impact the lives of many student-athletes. I am so thankful to be here and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 14, 2019.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

UIS Baseball: UIS finishes 14th in final NCBWA poll

The University of Illinois Springfield was ranked No. 14 in the final National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II baseball poll.

The Prairie Stars won a regional title and lost to Ashland in the super regional.

UIS finished 41-17-1.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 13, 2019.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Men's Basketball: UIS names assistant coaches for men’s basketball

Matt Brock, the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois Springfield, has announced his two assistant coaches for the 2018-19 season.

The new assistants are Pat Sodemann and Nic Reynolds, with Reynolds to serve as a graduate assistant.

Sodemann was a graduate assistant for Brock from 2015-17 at Missouri Baptist University, where the Spartans went 36-27 over those two seasons.

Reynolds, a Peoria Notre Dame High School graduate, has spent the last five years at Columbia College in Missouri.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 7, 2019.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS senior pitcher Andrew Dean drafted by San Diego Padres in the 18th round

The top pitcher in University of Illinois Springfield baseball history became the first Prairie Stars player selected in the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday.

Andrew Dean heard his name called by the San Diego Padres in the 18th round.

Dean went 12-0 this past season and had a 2.77 ERA. He struck outs 118 batters in 91 innings, and opponents hit just .217 off of him. He was the GLVC Pitcher of the Year, and the first Prairie Stars pitcher to earn All-American accolades.

Dean was the first baseball player from the GLVC selected in this year’s baseball draft. He will become the second UIS player to sign with a MLB organization, joining Cole Taylor who signed as a free agent last year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on June 5, 2019.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

New UIS building funded in capital bill re-imagines library

A new $35 million, 50,000-square-foot library learning student success center at the University of Illinois Springfield is included in the $45 billion public works construction program passed by the Illinois legislature over the weekend.

The building will be situated on campus between the Health and Sciences Building and the Student Union, according to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. The center will replace Brookens Library and will house the Center for Online Learning Research and Service (COLRS), the Center for Academic Success (CAS) and Information Technology Services.

All of those centers are now housed in Brookens Library, the university’s first permanent building, which was completed in 1975 and dedicated the next year.

Koch said Monday that the goal is to have “shovels in the ground” by 2020. “We’re pretty happy,” Koch said Monday. “The need for the building and the things in it has been in conversation for several years. “This is the project we put forward (to the University of Illinois system) as our number one priority.”

Brookens, which Koch once described as “one of my favorite locations on the (UIS) campus,” is being eyed for classroom space in the future for academic programs like management information services.

Much like with the construction of the Student Union, Koch said there will be in-depth conversations involving people who will use and benefit from the new building.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 3, 2019.

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Monday, June 3, 2019

Joye Williams Endows Scholarship

In January 2019, barely seven months after completing her master’s degree in Legal Studies, Joye Williams created an endowed fund at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

The scholarship is called the Lawrence E. Williams/Dr. Larry Golden Illinois Innocence Project Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship is for individuals who were victims of a wrongful conviction, who have a felony who want to reintegrate into society by furthering their education, and /or who work with the Illinois Innocence Project.

Joye, a Waukekgan resident, works as an Ombudsman in the Public Benefits Practice Group of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago where she helps protect the rights of residents in assisted living and long-term residential care facilities.

Joye says that she was inspirited to create the scholarship because her son who has a felony record, is currently experiencing major difficulties and such a scholarship would benefit other young men and woman like him.

This story appeared in Chicago Peoples Voice in May 2019.

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For Charlie Wheeler, 50 years watching what happens in Springfield as a reporter, educator is enough

Charlie Wheeler has forgotten more about the Illinois Legislature than most reporters will ever know — and he hasn’t forgotten much, least of all the time an ill-tempered state senator purposely dumped a bowl of hot soup on him.

Longtime readers of the Chicago Sun-Times might remember Wheeler by his elegant byline, Charles N. Wheeler III, matched by the equally elegant writing style he used to explain the legislative complexities in a way everyone could understand.

More recent readers might know him for his insightful comments, offered from his perch as director of the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he has helped mold a generation of top young journalists.

Wheeler, 77, is retiring this summer after an amazing 50-year run as a close observer of the Springfield scene — the first 24 years with the Sun-Times, the last 26 running the reporting program. 

More than 700 students have come through the program since it was started in 1972 by the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon between stints in public office. Many former students went on to distinguished careers in newspaper, radio and television newsrooms across the country, creating an accomplished alumni roster I won’t even try to list to avoid leaving somebody out.

The hands-on experience and training under the close supervision of professional journalists have made the PAR program so successful.

When Wheeler joined academia in 1993, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution in his honor. “Throughout the course of his reporting on the General Assembly, one thing you could always say: Charlie reported it accurately because he actually did read the bills, more than what we do sometimes,” former state Sen. Emil Jones of Chicago observed that day. It is indeed one of Wheeler’s golden rules: Read the bill. It seems simple. But you would be amazed how often reporters and lawmakers alike don’t do that in the crunch of a legislative session.

Wheeler says the reporting program he’s leaving will continue. A search for his successor is underway.

This article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 31, 2019.

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