University Park, IL,
10:31 AM

Jaguar Championship Banners Unveiled

Jaguar Nation turned out to show support for the 2017 - 18 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) men’s basketball championship team and witness the unveiling of dual championship banners in the Hall of Governors on Monday.

In February, the Jaguars secured a “CCAC Double” — a regular season championship followed by a postseason tournament title that set them up to play in the 27th Annual NAIA National Tournament.

And all this in only their second season in the CCAC conference.

“Today we mark a first in the history of Governors State University— an athletic conference championship,’’ said Will Davis, vice president of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the GSU Foundation.

Davis, along with Athletic Director Anthony “Tony” Bates and President Elaine P. Maimon, all praised the men’s team for their athletic achievements, as well as their leadership skills and commitment to academics.

“You took care of the books and home court,’’ said Davis.

Bates, 2017-18 CCAC Co-Coach of the Year, was brought in to create an athletic department in 2014. He thanked President Maimon and Aurelio Valente, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, for their support as he built GSU’s seven-team program from scratch.

Grateful for the men’s basketball team’s accomplishments during the season, Bates referenced the game of life on Monday. “Another championship that is more important to me is that I have four seniors who are graduating.’’

Jalen Miller, who earned a host of awards during the season, including NAIA All America Second Team, will retire his orange and black at the end of the semester, as will Willie Lipsey III, Jalen McGruder, and Jamaal Murray.

During the season juniors Shane MapleRobbie Brooks, and Nathan Skrobot were also recognized as All-CCAC Second Team, All-CCAC Honorable Mention, and GSU’s recipient of the NAIA Champions of Character Individual Student Award, respectively.

Bates beamed with pride during Monday’s ceremony during which all the players attended in professional attire thanks to Mary Beth Herr, who styled many of the student athletes with donated high quality and high-end jackets, ties, and slacks.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to promote sustainable fashion,’’ said Herr, whose shop Store Front on Sixty Third, specializes in vintage clothing fresh from the resale market. The men’s team was a natural fit, she said.

“If you are starting out on your career, and just getting going, this is a good way to move from the college attire to the professional attire —affordably.”

Bates agreed. “How great do they look? They are all going to be professional. Maybe not professional basketball players, but professional lawyers and doctors, that’s what I see.”

President Maimon praised the leadership skills and dedication of the men’s team. “Our young men played hard in every game, even after they won the regular season,” she told supporters, adding that their work ethic reinforces a point of pride for the university’s athletes and students. “It’s a matter of character. Our athletes are fully present – in the classroom as much as they are on the playing field.”

Monday’s ceremony ended with the men’s team proceeding down a receiving line of high-fiving well-wishers towards the Hall of Honors for a lunch fit for champions.