EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State will induct eight Spartans into its Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 24 as part of its annual “Celebrate” weekend. The 2021 Hall of Fame Class includes: Franklin Gomez (wrestling), Anthony Hamm (men’s cross country/track and field), Carol Hutchins (softball/women’s basketball), Lynn Janson (men’s golf), Elizabeth (Shimek) Moeggenberg (women’s basketball), Floor Rijpma (field hockey), Charles Rogers (football) and Ron Scott (hockey).
The Celebrate 2021 weekend includes the 11th-annual Varsity Letter Jacket Presentation on Thursday, Sept. 23 and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday. There will also be a special recognition of the 2021 MSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class during the Michigan State-Nebraska football game at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25.
The MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, located in the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center, opened on Oct. 1, 1999, and displays plaques of the 154 previous inductees. The charter class of 30 former Spartan student-athletes, coaches and administrators was inducted in 1992.
Below are bios on the eight inductees for the 2021 Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame Class:
When Franklin Gomez was a student-athlete wrestling for Michigan State, he would often see all the plaques for academic and athletic honors in the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center and wonder what it took to get there. Well, Gomez doesn’t have to wonder anymore, as his picture and name will be up there as a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, because I’ve been so consumed with my training and competing, but hadn’t really realized that I was even up for this honor,” Gomez said recently while training for the Tokyo Olympics, his third representing Puerto Rico, the first Puerto Rican to qualify to three Olympics.
“But after thinking and reflecting on it, I’m just super honored,” Gomez said proudly. “It’s a blessing, because I remember being at the Smith Center, walking in and seeing all the pictures of all the Academic All-Americans, and then all the Athletics Hall of Fame of all those great Spartan athletes and wondering how those people got there. I saw the wrestler, Kelvin Jackson, and lots of other, older folks, wrestlers and other athletes, and just thinking ‘wow, how do people make it up there, that’s got to be really tough and what an honor for them.'”
Gomez is the Spartans’ last National Champion, winning the 2009 NCAA title at 133 pounds. A two-time Big Ten Champion for MSU at 133 pounds in 2008 and 2009, Gomez amassed 119 career wins for the Spartans from 2006-10 and is tied for sixth all-time on the career wins list at Michigan State. A total of 15 of his wins came in NCAA Championship action, tied for fourth on MSU’s all-time NCAA Tournament wins list.
That success helped Gomez earn selection for the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, and he beams with pride knowing that his plaque will be in the Smith Center.
“I think it’s going to be really special in the sense that it’s not necessarily because my image is there, but special in a sense because I remember the Smith Center being such a huge advantage and help for me with my education at Michigan State. Coming from Puerto Rico, I needed a little extra help with school, so I was always in the Smith Center and all those people that helped me in my education mean so much to me to help me get to where I am today. So in that sense, I have an extra emotional connection to the Hall of Fame in the Smith Center, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the Smith Center and the help I received there, so to have my picture in the Hall of Fame in that building is extra special.”
Gomez will be able to laugh to himself thinking about his first impressions of the Smith Center in his early days at MSU.
“I used to think that it was just for academic honors, and didn’t know all the criteria and I didn’t think I would ever make it,” Gomez said with a laugh. “But then when I learned that the Hall of Fame was for athletic success as well, I thought, ‘well maybe someday I can be good enough to be up there.’ The Smith Center is all about helping people with their academics as well as athletics, so it’s a great honor to be in there.”
Gomez earned his bachelor’s degree from MSU in human resources and went on to earn his master’s in business administration from Penn State, where he coaches freestyle wrestling and trains with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, making sure to proudly wear his Spartan gear.
Gomez was an extra special Spartan wrestler, but knows that he came from strong roots at Michigan State, and has a strong understanding and appreciation that he was able to accomplish everything that he did with hard work and some help from lots of people, including many in the Smith Center. He has an extra sense of gratitude and hopes to pay-it-forward to current and future Spartans.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be in the Hall of Fame. Being in the Smith Center and being able to have other Spartan student-athletes see that, and to see that diversity. Coming from my background and a different country kind of shows that you can come from anywhere, any town, any country and if you go to the right place with the right resources like Michigan State, you can definitely accomplish everything and anything you prepare for, because they’ll help you succeed and help you do anything, for me completing the American dream,” Gomez said beaming with pride.
Gomez was shocked when he learned that he was selected in his first year eligible.
“I’m very, very honored to be included my first year I could, that’s a tremendous surprise. I kind of thought that there was a waiting list and they picked from there. Wow, that’s crazy to be selected like this,” Gomez said surprisingly.
The humble Gomez is appreciative of his coaches and teammates from his time as a Spartan to help him reach the success that he’s being recognized for by being selected to the Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I remember that a lot of work was put in on the wrestling mat with the huge help from my coaches and my teammates. If it wasn’t for my teammates and all their help, I wouldn’t have done what I did, and for the coaches, Coach (Tom) Minkel, Roger (Chandler) and Chris (Williams),” Gomez said. “I just have a lot of gratefulness and thankful for the opportunity to be a Spartan, and I’m proud to forever be a Spartan. I’m grateful that my journey has been helped along the way by so many great people to make it this far in my coaches and teammates, and the support system surrounding me.”
Gomez’s appreciation to his teammates isn’t limited to just wrestling, as they helped him with life and adjusting to America. Born in the Dominican Republic, Gomez moved with his mother and two brothers to Puerto Rico after his fisherman father died in 1991. He wrestled for a high school in Tampa, Florida, and continued learning English at Michigan State.
“There’s lots of great memories. I remember lots of talks with my teammates, including Rex Kendle and David Cheza,” Gomez said. “I had a lot of problems with past-tense in English, and I would have to take an exam for a class, and one time, David said ‘so how did it go?’ and I was confused and asked him, ‘do you mean how did it went, because went is the past and it’s already happened and go is present?’ And he said, ‘no, how did it go?’ So we were going back-and-forth, and they helped me, and we had a lot of fun together teaching me the English language better. So have a lot of good memories with my wrestling teammates just hanging out and them helping me and correcting me.”
Along with helping him with his English, Gomez remembers and credits his teammates and coaches for his success, including then assistant coach and current head coach Roger Chandler, as well as assistant coach Chris Williams.
“I remember trying to take down Roger Chandler was a big deal for me and trying to navigate around Chris Williams, so I have lots of great memories of my teammates and coaches helping me in the wrestling room, and wrestling with my teammates in Jenison Field House and giving everything we had to the Spartans,” Gomez said. “One time Coach Minkel asked me to lead the team in prayer before a match, and I was so nervous, I’d never prayed or even spoken in front of a group of people very much, but it was a very special moment.”
While he admits that he didn’t take down Coach Chandler very much, he does vividly remember one of his highlights of doing so.
“There was one time at practice we did a shark bait drill with someone in the middle and had to take them down, and Roger was in the middle and man, I was able to take him down,” Gomez said proudly. “That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but you talk about an accomplishment, man that felt great and I knew if I could do that, then I could almost do anything, I felt like I was in a sci-fi or action movie!”
While he took the athlete path and not that of an actor in a movie, Gomez is proud to have taken the path that he took and forever grateful of his mother for allowing him to take that path from humble beginnings to Hall of Famer.
“I’m very appreciate of my mother, Margarita Matos for all the sacrifices she made for me in order for me to get to where I am today, for letting me come to the U.S. trying to pursue a higher education,” Gomez said. “I’m also forever grateful to Mike and Debbie Joyce, who lived in Florida and took great care of me, and Dalimar Velez and Pablo J. Cordero, who took care of me at Michigan State.”
Franklin Gomez, Hall of Famer, has a nice ring to him, but he knows that he didn’t get there alone.
“There’s a lot of things in life that take lots of sacrifice and dedication and I’m grateful for all the sacrifices that people made for me. We need people around us and mentors, not just growing up, but always, and I am the result of the many, many people that made contributions to my life, and I thank God for them and them helping me.”
Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field (1987-92)
There is something about Flint, Michigan, that draws elite athletes to Michigan State. Before there were the Flintstones there was Anthony Hamm, who left his mark on both the Spartan cross country and track & field teams. The six-time All-American has found all-around success on the track and on the cross country course.
Hamm follows a long tradition of Michigan State distance runners into the Hall of Fame, including Crawford Kennedy, Ken Popejoy and Anne Pewe.
Upon hearing of his induction to the MSU Hall of Fame from Michigan State Director of Athletics Bill Beekman, Hamm was full of pride.
“He called and introduced himself, and I didn’t have any idea I was being inducted, so it was puzzling,” Hamm said. “So when he said that I’m being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it was just a lot of pride. I’m a Spartan at heart, and I bleed Green and White. I just felt like it was a tremendous honor being selected, with all the great athletes that have come in and out of Michigan State, so I just had a lot of pride.”
His illustrious career includes capturing two outdoor Big Ten Championships in the 10,000 meters. In 1991, he won the title with a stellar time of 29:11.83. He repeated the title in 1992 with a time of 30:02.38. Hamm is one of only six athletes in the Big Ten to repeat titles in the 10k.
“I am really proud of the Big Ten championships for track and field,” Hamm said. “I won a couple of Big Ten titles in the 10,000 meters on the track, and going to the National Championships. Then really, the big thing is, the relationships that I developed, great friends and teammates. Coach (Jim) Bibbs, Coach (Jim) Stintzi, those are the relationships that I just cherish; they are great people. So, those are some of the best memories that I have of my time at Michigan State.”
Hamm’s success translated well from the track to the cross country course. He began his illustrious Spartan career earning Big Ten Cross Country Freshman of the Year honors in 1987. Hamm helped Michigan State finish in the top five in the Big Ten Championships three times, including a second-place team finish in 1988. He is still the only Spartan men’s cross country runner to be a four-time All-American. A three-time participant in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Hamm helped MSU finish has high as sixth in 1991.
His competitive running did not end once he left East Lansing. Hamm ran professionally for six years with Adidas, where he ran marathons, 10,000m and road races.
“I have just a great appreciation for all the opportunities that Michigan State has provided for me. I’m originally from Flint, Michigan, and just getting the opportunity to be able to go away to college to a good university, to get a good education, and then to have opportunity to run and compete, all over the U.S. I was able to develop great friendships. I love being a Michigan State Spartan, I bleed Green and White,” Hamm said.
The love of education that blossomed at Michigan State has continued for Hamm. He has lived in the Washington, D.C. area working in education. Hamm currently works for Pathway Schools as a career path coordinator. He works with students with special education needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamm helped established a virtual college and career center for special education students in partnership with a community development corporation.
Hamm is a proud Spartan who still follows the Green and White from across the country. He enjoys watching the success that the Michigan State cross country and track & field squads continue to have all these years later.
Softball/Women’s Basketball (1976-79)
Softball and basketball standout Carol Hutchins, a 1979 graduate, adds the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame to her considerable list of career accomplishments. Already on her resume is a spot in the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame (2000), the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2006) and Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame (2011), showing just a portion of the impact she has had throughout her career. An AIAW National Champion as an undergraduate, she’s now the NCAA’s winningest active softball coach, with nearly 1,700 victories to her credit. Her coaching tree is lush with collegiate head and assistant coaches who have followed in the steps of their mentor.
Those accolades, however, likely pale in comparison to the lives she’s impacted throughout her career as a standout athlete, championship-level coach, and most importantly, vocal advocate for the women in her charge. She’s brushed off her own opportunities for the spotlight to tilt the light instead toward her players. (She once deflected an interview request after an NCAA regional win because the athletes in uniform “are the ones with the dream, the ones who did the hard work to get here.”)
Her upbringing in Lansing – one of six children who grew up playing all sports in her backyard – cultivated her career path from an early age, even if she didn’t quite put it all together until later. Growing up a mile and a half from the MSU campus, she idolized Duffy Daugherty and MSU’s football program. When she learned that being a college athlete was something she could pursue, it became her dream. While her parents may have preferred that she start at the more affordable Lansing Community College, she made it known that she would be attending Michigan State if the acceptance letter came.
“I finally got my Michigan State University acceptance letter that August,” recalls Hutchins – or “Hutch,” to anyone who knows her. “It was truly the happiest day of my life. It was my dream – it was where I wanted to go my whole life.”
Earning a starting spot at shortstop her freshman season, she helped pilot the softball program to an Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National championship in 1976 – prior to the NCAA sponsoring championships for women. A two-sport athlete who lettered in basketball in addition to softball, she recalls that the women leading those programs played a large part of helping forge her career path.
“I wanted to be that person that everyone was to me when I was a young athlete,” recalls Hutchins. “I wanted to be what Karen Langeland was to me, what Diane UIibarri was to me. I remember [former track & field coach] Nell Jackson being this elegant, fine woman who set an example. I changed colleges, but I never left college. My experience at Michigan State is really what drew me into my love for that particular area of athletics. It was my senior year of high school before we were considered ‘varsity athletes’ – we were just happy to be there, and I don’t know that we knew all of what our coaches were doing behind the scenes to try to give us an equal opportunity, to ensure that we weren’t an afterthought.”
Hutchins was named the head softball coach at the University of Michigan in 1985 after two years as an assistant coach for the Wolverines, and over the last 37 years has built UM into a perennial Big Ten and NCAA contender. More important to her, however, is how that has happened. She stresses a family atmosphere within her program – with hallmarks of hard work, supporting one another and of course some tough love. Expectations and accountability must be high. The how has always been of the utmost importance, with the end product producing the high level of success that is the end goal.
Her Wolverines have been a consistent winner, capturing 22 Big Ten titles and advancing to the NCAA College World series 12 times. In addition to the countless conference, regional and national coaching awards in her career, Hutchins was named the inaugural recipient of espnW’s Pat Summitt Coaching Award in 2016, presented to the coach who “exemplifies the character and courage” of the legendary basketball coach who led the Tennessee Lady Vols.
And that award is perhaps the most indicative of what Hutchins legacy will be. Win the right way – do the right things, get the desired results. Stand up for equity and equality. Women need to feel more than “happy to be there.” She’s been an outspoken critic of inequalities when it comes to women’s athletics when she sees them.
“I’m fortunate – and I’m at a place in my career where I should speak out,” notes the newest MSU Hall-of-Famer. “People like me who have a platform, we should use it. I’m lucky that my longevity gives me that platform, and those of us with a larger safety net than others, we need to use it. I get furious at some of the other big dogs who sit and kind of let these things just happen and only worry about themselves. You know, it isn’t about us – it’s about our entire sport, and all women in athletics.”
Physically, she’s only an hour from her hometown and the place she got her start. When she brings her team to East Lansing, she shows her team the plaque honoring those 1976 AIAW National Champions affixed to Secchia Softball Stadium, and an acknowledgement of that team accomplishment also adorns the outfield wall. She’s forged her own path to coaching champions, including a 2005 NCAA title.
On her finger that weekend in Omaha? Her 1976 AIAW championship ring. It took the team nearly 20 years to get those baubles – in 1995, when Spartan head coach Jacquie Joseph learned that MSU’s title team had never received championship rings. Joseph wanted to right that wrong – to advocate that the women who brought the Spartans a national title be honored the same way that their male counterparts would have enjoyed.
In her own way – and even wearing the colors of her alma mater’s fiercest rival for 37 years, Hutchins has embodied “Spartans Will.”
Men’s Golf (1968-70)
East Lansing, Mich.
For Lynn Janson, golf and Michigan State always went hand in hand. The East Lansing native grew up just across Grand River Avenue from Old College Field and it’s where his first memories of the game come to mind.
“There was a practice green on Old College Field, right were the Red Cedar River takes a turn,” Janson described. “They had two bunkers. So from my house, we could walk. If the water level was low enough, you could walk across stones and you were right there. I could practice all I wanted there.”
All that practicing at the former Old College Field range and later Forest Akers Golf Course helped make Janson into one of the best golfers in MSU history. Janson became a three-time All-American and two-time All-Big Ten performer and led the Spartans to the program’s first Big Ten Championship in 1969.
“Bruce Fossum was determined to put together a good team and start winning,” Janson said. “Winning the Big Ten Championship was a goal and it was expressed right when we got here. We had myself, Lee Edmundson and Rick Woulfe, so we had some good players and Bruce as determined that we were going to do some winning. I have to give Bruce a lot of credit.”
While golf is the sport in which Janson would excel, growing up it wasn’t always his top priority.
“I played baseball well enough; I played my freshman year and played all positions,” Janson said. “I was an All-State basketball player, but golf didn’t come that easily. It really didn’t. I liked it right away and got serious about it at age 12 or 13, but I had to work at it.
“I decided that if I was going to do something beyond high school, it was going to be golf, so that’s what I worked at.”
As Janson’s game continued to flourish, he knew that what was his de-facto home course, Forest Akers, would turn into his official home course, electing to attend MSU and play collegiately for the Spartans.
“It was pretty much Michigan State automatically,” Janson said. “I knew the guy that ran Forest Akers, and after that I got to know Bruce Fossum really well. So, I knew those people and it was Michigan State all the way. I knew some of the older guys that went to Michigan State, so it was always Michigan State.”
Janson’s standout career at Michigan State, along with his equally impressive non-collegiate showings, which included winning the Michigan Amateur Championship in 1968, put him on a path to compete with some of the best players in the world for the rest of his life.
Janson went on to play in seven U.S. Opens, seven PGA Championships, one Senior PGA Championship, one Senior U.S. Open and nearly 30 total PGA Tour events in all.
“It was really quite thrilling,” Janson said of his seven U.S. Open appearances. “The first one I played in 1974 was at Winged Foot and I made the cut. The next year I also made the cut and got paired with Arnold Palmer in round three in a twosome. That was obviously a real thrill. I think he was in his late 40s at the time and was starting to be at the end of his really great career.”
Early on in his pro career, Janson and another up and coming 18-year-old from Spain, were paired together in a PGA Tour qualifier.
“I got paired with Seve Ballesteros,” Janson said. “So that was a nice memory and I only missed getting my Tour card by two strokes after 72 holes. Neither of us got our cards that year, he was young. The next year, he won the event and got on the PGA Tour at age 19 and went on to become the world’s number 1 golfer.”
Janson’s life in golf has taken him around the state, down to Florida and back to Michigan, where he resides part of the year after having purchased Hastings Country Club, which was in distress, in 2011.
It’s at his club where Janson now passes on his knowledge and works to grow the game he loves. Janson became involved with the PGA Jr. League early on at Hastings as a way to get kids into golf and has seen his efforts, and those like him, produce substantial results for the game.
“My second year there we had a team of 12 kids in our PGA Jr. League, which was just getting started across the country,” Janson said. “There were 1,600 kids across the country that played that year. Now, there are about 70,000 kids that play in the PGA Junior League across the country. Some of these kids will play golf for the rest of their life. There are some kids that started with us in 2012 that now play college golf.”
Janson is the first Michigan State men’s golfer to be inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Elizabeth (Shimek) Moeggenberg
Women’s Basketball (2002-06)
The photo has become iconic. Lindsay Bowen on the back of Elizabeth (Shimek) Moeggenberg after rallying back from 16 points down to upset powerhouse Tennessee in the 2005 Final Four. Moeggenberg was a part of the Michigan State women’s basketball team that changed the program forever.
The Empire, Michigan, native will now take her place among the best of the best in MSU history. She joins teammate Kristin Haynie (2017), along with Mary Kay Itnyre (2015), Diane Spoelstra (2012) and Kisha (Kelley) Simpson (2011), as the only MSU women’s basketball players in the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Upon hearing she was being inducted Moeggenberg said, “I’m kind of speechless when you think about it. You think of all the phenomenal athletes that have gone through Michigan State and to be one that’s going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s a huge honor. When I think of my teammate Kristin (Haynie), who was inducted back in 2018 it was just a great experience. She was such a role model and such a great leader and a great teammate. We went down for the ceremony. I am really just speechless.”
Moeggenberg left Michigan State as the Spartans’ all-time leading scorer with 1,780 points. She now stands third all-time in points scored and still remains first in field goals made with 719. The forward is one of only two Spartans to earn All-American honors twice. Moeggenberg is one of only six MSU women’s basketball players to earn All-Big Ten honors all four seasons. She also left her mark in the classroom as well, earning CoSIDA Academic All-American honors in both 2005 and 2006.
The 2005 season was the most successful in MSU women’s basketball history. The Spartans ended the season ranked No. 2 in the final USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, earning their highest-ever national ranking. Michigan State’s starting five featured Moeggenberg, Kristin Haynie, Kelli Roehrig, Lindsay Bowen and Victoria Lucas-Perry. MSU averaged 71.0 points per game, while allowing only 58.2. Those stats were bolstered by a 67-51 win over No. 11 UConn on Dec. 29, 2004, as the 10th-ranked Spartans not only won on the Huskies’ tough home court, but also dealt them their worst home loss in 12 years.
Looking back on that magical season, Moeggenberg found it hard to not think about ups and downs of such a memorable year.
“All that we went through as a team and how close we were and what great leadership we had with Kristin (Haynie) and Kelli (Roehrig) being the seniors on that team. It’s such a cool memory that we all will share together. We pass it on to our children, and we share about it if we’re in the coaching field or just in life,” Moeggenberg said. “You learned so many lessons being a collegiate athlete, not just because we were successful, but just being a collegiate athlete. You just learned so many life lessons that you hope to pass on your own children are the people in your life that you are a role model to.”
Moeggenberg’s hard work during her collegiate career translated to even more success as she left East Lansing. She followed her MSU career with several years in the WNBA and a stint playing overseas until 2009. Ultimately, she returned to her roots on the family farm, working side by side with her parents. She also has returned to the basketball world as the varsity assistant coach at her alma mater Glen Lake High School. Moeggenberg and her husband, Luke, a former MSU wrestler, are also busy parents to four kids.
“I think the list to thank people could be pretty endless. I mean all the way from all my coaches growing up, to my high school coaches, to my family, of course my parents, Tom and Linda, and my brother, my sister and all my teammates throughout my career in high school. And all my teammates in college and obviously as you get more and more intense, I think that the bonds even gets better as you train together more and are with each other a lot more,” said Moeggenberg. “And then my husband, Luke, I mean he’s just the rock in my life. He traveled overseas with me, and left his career to come and be with me so we could be together and then when we got back, he started his own construction company.”
Moeggenberg doesn’t need that iconic picture of her and Bowen to ignite her Michigan State memories. The highs and lows of that incredible ride during the 2005 season are seared into her memory. It isn’t only come-from-behind wins from the Joanne P. McCallie-led team that she remembers, but also the tough practices with a tight-knit team.
“That was a roller coaster of a ride of a season that we had. All in all, I can only really remember the good things. When you really think about the season you think of all the practices after a tough loss or a game or we didn’t play well and all the grueling moments that we did as a team. Whether it was preseason taekwondo workouts or doing all of our conditioning in the weight room, all those moments that you’re working so hard together it just creates as a bond as a team,” Moeggenberg said.
“And so doing all that together and fighting through all those moments of adversity, like when we were at Notre Dame. We won that game being down seven points with under 30 seconds to go. All those moments that we stuck together and fought through the adversity. I’m not surprised that we made it as far as we did. When we beat UConn on their floor, and all those moments where we saw the bits of greatness that we could be. Those were defining moments for us.”
Field Hockey (2006-09)
Bunnik, The Netherlands
Coming to Michigan State as a 17-year-old from the Netherlands and walking through the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center and seeing the names and accolades of legendary Spartan athletes who came before her, field hockey player Floor Rijpma never really thought that she would join that list.
But after one of the most prolific careers in program history, Rijpma admits she was overwhelmed when she received the call that she was selected to the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I was just flabbergasted,” Rijpma said via FaceTime from her home in The Netherlands. “You know when you’re young and walking through the building and you see all of these names and the banners and they talk about it, but you never think that your name will be up there with them. That’s great, that’s major, that’s awesome. There’s not a hair on my head that would say I would up be there in 10 years with all of those other names.
“I think it’s a great honor, a great privilege. I’m just so honored to have been chosen.”
Rijpma was a two-time First Team All-American and helped lead MSU to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including reaching the regional finals in both 2008 and 2009. The Spartans went 6-0 in league play in 2009 to win their first-ever outright Big Ten regular season title and captured the conference tournament title to become just the second team in league history to finish the regular season undefeated and win the Big Ten Tournament.
“You can always say when went to the Final 16, or some other wins, but it would take away all of the other moments,” Rijpma said when asked of any specific games that stood out in her career. “What I feel the most proud about when I look back on those days and those times were the complete team and family that we had here.
“Coming here, and going to college, they say in America that the team would truly become your family,” Rijpma recalled. “When you’re a foreigner, at 17-years of age and having your team to rely on basically 24-7 and going through everything with them, the bad and good times, that was completely true. This team became my family.”
Rijpma recalled the transition she made, moving from her home in Bunnik, The Netherlands, and arriving at Michigan State on a January day in 2005.
“My mom just recently moved and she brought me all of these pictures from when I was younger and one was me at the airport leaving for America,” Rijpma recalled. “I remember her saying we’re not coming with you and not because we don’t love you, but because we know you can do this. You just go and take on the world.
“When I got to the States, I came in January, and it’s not like it is during the fall or summer, from a weather standpoint. I think I was in Wilson Hall and I can STILL remember hearing this train at night, every night. Those first days, weeks maybe, were the hardest because you don’t even know anyone.”
In addition to getting to know her teammates, Rijpma said having a couple of fellow Dutch teammates, coaches in Rolf van de Kerkhof and Helen Knull and the support she received at MSU helped her transition.
“The organization of the athletic department and the support we had (here), you can never know how much important that was for us,” she said. “Being able to play in sports and excel in the area of academics, because of the entire support team that we had access to, it just made for an incredible experience in terms of going to school and playing your sport.”
Also new to Rijpma was the excitement on a Spartan football game day.
“I still tell people that there is a stadium that holds 75,000 people for a college game and they’re like, ‘What?!’,” she said. “Then you add in the tailgates and it’s such an atmosphere. If you want to feel the Spartan Pride or the Green Heart, Michigan State on a game day is amazing. It’s just such a great combination of a University with sports.”
Rijpma, who earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and went on to earn a master’s degree from Central Michigan in international administration before returning home, now works for The Rabobank, one of the bigger banks in Holland.
While it has been more than 10 years since she returned to East Lansing, she is hoping that she gets the opportunity to be on campus in person for the ceremonies.
“I think it will be so emotional,’ she said. “I will be reliving so many emotions of living there. And for such an important part of my life, when you become an adult, the beginning of who you are. It shapes who you are and who you will be.
“There’s one thing for sure in my life that I would never, ever regret and would do it over again and again and again and that’s coming to Michigan State.”
In just two seasons wearing the Green and White in 2001 and 2002, Charles Rogers rewrote the Michigan State record book and became one of the greatest wide receivers in school history.
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Rogers is still MSU’s all-time leader in touchdown catches with 27 and ranks third in school history in receiving yards (2,821) and eighth in catches (135) – even though he only played in 24 collegiate games. He still owns the top-two MSU single-season marks for receiving yards (1,470 in 2001 and 1,351 in 2002) and TD catches (14 in 2001 and 13 in 2002), and his 20.90 yards per catch during his career ranks second in the school record book, trailing only College Football Hall of Famer Kirk Gibson (20.96).
Rogers has six of the top-20 single-game receiving performances in Spartan history, including a school-record 270 yards against Fresno State in the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl. In addition, he produced a school-record 12 100-yard receiving games in his career and is the only Spartan to record multiple 200-yard receiving games. Rogers was recently named to FOX Sports’ All-Time Big Ten Team, which was released in July 2021.
Rogers passed away at the age of 38 in 2019, but is still revered by his teammates.
“Charles was a special player – athletically, he was phenomenal,” said former teammate Lorenzo Guess, who is now the associate head strength and conditioning coach for the Spartans. “His energy was awesome, and he really loved the game and his teammates. He was very loyal to everyone he played with and he had tremendous respect from everybody. He was a real person. Sometimes you might have the best player on the team and people don’t relate to him, but Charles related with everybody.”
A five-star recruit, Rogers arrived in East Lansing as one of the most decorated prospects in the history of the program. He was rated the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2000 by ESPN.com after recording 126 receptions for 2,644 yards (21.0 avg.) and 39 TDs as a three-year starter at Saginaw High School. As a senior in 1999, Rogers caught 40 passes for 760 yards (19.0 avg.) and 14 touchdowns and had a 60-yard TD reception in the Division 2 state championship game, helping Saginaw to its only state football title with a 14-7 win over Birmingham Brother Rice. He also won four individual state track titles, including the 200 meters in 2000, 400 in 1999 and 100 and 200 in 1998.
After sitting out the 2000 season, the 6-4, 205-pound Rogers made his debut in 2001 and made an immediate impact. He set MSU single-season records for receptions (67), receiving yards (1,470), touchdown receptions (14) and 100-yard receiving games (6) in his first year on the active roster. He also became the first Spartan receiver to average at least 20.0 yards per catch (21.9 avg.) since Andre Rison in 1988 en route to earning second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media. In MSU’s 17-10 win at Notre Dame on Sept. 22, Rogers caught a third-and-6 pass from Ryan Van Dyke and sprinted 47 yards before diving into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
“I had to go against him in practice all the time,” recalled Guess, laughing. “He was the fastest person I’ve ever gone against. During one practice, we were in cover-one and he went in motion, and I’m coming toward the line of scrimmage, and the ball was snapped, so he’s coming toward me, and I’m coming toward him. And before I knew it, he ran right past me. I’m chasing after him, and I’m like ‘please overthrow it, please overthrow it’ and luckily it was overthrown. He had game speed…He caught a slant at Notre Dame (in 2001) and just took off and outran everybody (for the game-winning touchdown).”
As a junior in 2002, Rogers became the first Spartan to win the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s best receiver. Despite being the focus of opposing defenses, Rogers broke his own school record with 68 catches for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns and was a consensus All-American, first-team All-Big Ten selection, team MVP and Alderton Award winner (MSU Male Athlete of the Year). He graced the cover of The Sporting News in September 2002 with the headline, “Meet College Football’s Best Player,” and had four consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start the season. Rogers had eight receptions for a season-best 175 yards vs. Notre Dame on Sept. 21, including an acrobatic catch in the end zone late in the fourth quarter that is remembered as one of the best in Spartan history.
During his record-breaking season in 2002, Rogers became only the second receiver to MSU history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining Plaxico Burress, who accomplished the feat in 1998-99. Rogers led the Big Ten in receiving yards (112.6 per game) and TD receptions (13), while ranking third in receptions (5.67 per game). He also ranked among the NCAA leaders in TD catches (third with 13), receiving yards (eighth with 1,351) and receptions (tied for 27th with 68). Fifty-seven of his 68 receptions (84 percent) resulted in first downs.
With his 21-yard TD reception in the second quarter vs. Northwestern on Sept. 28, 2002, Rogers set both then NCAA and Big Ten records by catching a TD pass in his 13th consecutive regular-season game and his 14th straight game overall. He also had six 100-yard receiving games, tying the single-season mark he set as a sophomore.
“You know a guy is good when another team double-teams you at the line of scrimmage,” recalled Guess. “That’s when you know a guy is good. He was like a walking highlight. He was good, everyone knew he was good, but he was still down to earth. That’s why everybody loved him. He was the best player in the country at his position, and you couldn’t tell hanging around him and talking to him.”
After his All-America career at Michigan State, Rogers was selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2003 National Football League Draft. He became only the fourth Spartan player to be picked second overall in the history of the NFL Draft, joining quarterback Earl Morrall (1956, San Francisco 49ers), running back Clinton Jones (1967, Minnesota Vikings) and offensive tackle Tony Mandarich (1989, Green Bay Packers). Rogers spent three seasons (2003-05) in the NFL with the Detroit Lions.
When Ron Scott made the decision to come to Michigan State, he was hoping to be a part of something special. Two first-team All-America selections, two first-team All-CCHA nods, two Hobey Baker Award finalist appearances, three team MVP pieces of hardware and two George Alderton MSU Male Athlete of the Year trophies were just some of the honors bestowed on Scott during his marvelous three seasons for Michigan State.
“You think back and it was a long time ago, but to still be remembered and be alongside some of the greatest athletes at MSU is just a huge honor,” Scott said. “I’m humbled.”
Scott arrived in East Lansing from Guelph, Ontario, in what was Ron Mason’s second year at MSU.
“I was familiar with Coach Mason from working at his hockey school for a few years,” Scott said. “A couple of my friends that I grew up with played for him at Bowling Green. When I had the opportunity at Michigan State, I knew it’d be a perfect fit.”
Scott, who along with teammate Newell Brown, came to MSU from the Cornwall Royals after winning a national championship for the junior team back home in Canada.
“The first year here was tough – we were in a complete rebuild and were a bunch of freshmen and sophomores playing against some of the best teams in the country,” Scott said. “But we knew from day one and never wavered that it was going to turn around. It certainly was a culture change. We were different; we came with aspirations of playing more than college hockey.”
In what was MSU’s final year in the WCHA in 1980-81, Scott and the Spartans finished 12-22-2. Despite the team’s record, Scott’s play garnered notice as he was named the WCHA Freshman of the Year, the Spartans’ Outstanding Rookie Award winner and the team MVP.
With a year of experience under their belts and the lessons of their rookie season, Scott and the Spartans had a breakout year in 1981-82. Scott backstopped the Spartans to a second-place regular season finish in the CCHA. MSU went on to win the CCHA Tournament title, with Scott winning Tournament MVP honors, and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.
It was Scott’s play that season that helped set the tone for the program for the years ahead. Scott posted a 2.85 GAA – the lowest by a Spartan goaltender in 12 seasons – and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist along with being named the Hockey News College Player of the Year.
While the program’s first CCHA Tournament title may have been the highlight of 1981-82, it was a game earlier in the year that Scott points to as the turning point for the season – and perhaps the program.
“You have to find your moment where you start to believe that you are competitive,” Scott said. “For us, it came against Michigan early in the year. Munn was rocking and we had a time early in the second period where we were two men down for four straight minutes. Not only did we kill all of it off, but for the last 45 seconds our three guys pinned their five guys in their zone and the place went crazy. From then on, we steamrolled them. That was a moment when we realized we were good.”
The Spartans ended the year with a 26-14-2 record – 14 more wins than the previous season.
“That Michigan game was the moment that we knew this whole thing had turned,” Scott said. “When you look back at it, it didn’t’ take that long. We went from last place to a national contender in basically a year and a half.”
With MSU rising on the national scene, the Spartans had another banner year in 1982-83, racking up 30 wins for the first time in program history. Scott again posted glittering numbers, going 29-9-1 with a 2.64 GAA and .899 save percentage, leading to a host of accolades, including another First Team All-America nod and Hobey Baker Finalist selection.
Once again, MSU reached the CCHA Tournament title game that proved to be one of the most dramatic in league history. With MSU facing regular season champ Bowling Green and the game tied 3-3 in overtime, a Spartan penalty led to a penalty shot for Bowling Green’s All-American, Brian Hills. Scott, who was battling an ankle injury at the time, got the best of Hills, denying his attempt and setting up Mark Hamway’s game-winner a minute later.
“I injured my ankle a couple of weeks prior and then aggravated it the day before, so I was playing with a cast,” Scott said. “I had no mobility, so rather than being able to slide left to right, I had to kind of jump. Quite honestly, I think that’s what kind of confused Hills because I was so unorthodox because I couldn’t move very well. It kind of caught him off guard.”
Scott, who was also a two-time Academic All-America, left MSU after his junior season in 1982-83 to head to the National Hockey League. He went on to play five seasons for the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings.
Scott’s success left an enduring mark with Spartan hockey, helping raise the program to national prominence. But while it may have been him between the pipes stopping pucks, Scott is quick to credit his teammates for what turned into an outstanding career in the Green and White.
“We had a team concept that stressed defense and essentially made my job easy,” Scott said. “Being a goalie, you’re only there when your teammates need you. Yes, I got a lot of the credit, but it comes down to everybody on the team that took care of our own zone and made my job easier.”