With more than 2,000 wins in volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball between them, the four inductees for the 2019 MCAC Hall-of-Fame class were Paul McDonald, Vermilion Community College; Emily Roelike, Ridgewater College; Tom Yelle, Anoka-Ramsey Community College; Val Swanson, Ridgewater College.
Paul McDonald is one of the all-time wins leaders (545) in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region XIII men's basketball history; however, as noted by his nominating party Mel Millerbernd (Rainy River Community College), McDonald's impact on student-athletes, coaches and colleges ran much deeper than the win - loss column. During his 30 years at Vermilion in Ely, Minnesota, McDonald was a great leader and role model for other NJCAA professionals around the league, region and nation. The Chisholm (MN) High School graduate served as the MCAC Men's Division president for 16 years and had significant service as a member of the NJCAA Region XIII leadership and MCAC Executive Committee. His expertise extended beyond the hardwood, as McDonald also served as the Vermilion Ironmen offensive coordinator in football and as the Vermilion golf coach for four seasons. In basketball, McDonald was MCAC Coach-of-the-Year on ten occasions and coached 17 All-Americans in his tenure. He also served as a instructor in sport management and physical education at Vermilion. Many sports fans from around the Arrowhead also noted McDonald's role as an official in basketball and football in the Minnesota high school ranks. McDonald recently was elected to the St. Louis County Board. He is in the first year of a four-year term. To learn more about Vermilion Community College, go to: http://www.vcc.edu/athletics/
(Paul McDonald, Vermilion Community College)
Emily Roelike was a two-sport standout at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota between 2009 and 2011. Roelike earned almost every accolade possible as a Warrior student-athlete, claiming 1st Team All-America honors in NJCAA Division III Volleyball and Softball in both her seasons of competition in each sport. She swept first-team All-Division, All-State and All-Region honors as well, all while earning a 3.10 GPA pursuing her associates degree. Roelike's individual abilities also translated to team success, as she was a key fixture on the Ridgewater College volleyball team which finished 3rd in the NJCAA National tournament in 2009 and then won the 2010 NJCAA Division III Volleyball National Championship. On the softball diamond, Roelike contributed significantly to the Conference and Regional championships earned by the Ridgewater softball team in 2011. That Warrior softball squad went on to participate in the 2011 NJCAA Division III Softball National Championship tournament in Rochester, Minnesota. Statistically-speaking, Roelike finished her Ridgewater volleyball career with 607 total kills; in softball, she belted 21 home runs, scored 156 runs and had 64 stolen bases. Roelike was nominated by Ridgewater College athletic director, Todd Thorstad. Read more about Roelike at this link from a 2010 West Central Tribune article. For more on Ridgewater College athletics, please visit: https://www.ridgewater.eduathletics
(Emily Roelike, Ridgewater College)
Val Swanson served in several capacities at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota, contributing significantly to the success of Warrior student-athletes and standing as a strong advocate of NJCAA two-year college athletics. Swanson collected 736 wins in volleyball at Ridgewater and also served as the athletic director and head women's basketball coach at various times during her tenure. Her career at Ridgewater spanned from 1980 to 2016. Swanson was honored as the 2002 NJCAA Division III Volleyball Coach-of-the-Year, and claimed Region XIII COY award on six different occasions. In 2003, Southwest Minnesota State University tabbed Swanson to receive their Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2007, the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association added Coach Swanson to their list of inductees. Val Swanson stands as a highly-respected coach, athletic director and advocate for women's sports in Minnesota. Swanson was nominated by Ridgewater College athletic director, Todd Thorstad.
Todd Bergeth, with 1340 AM / 96.3 FM News-Talk Radio interviewed Swanson in his Ten Questions with... feature in 2016. Click here for more on Val Swanson and her amazing 40-year career in higher education.
(Val Swanson, Ridgewater College)
Tom Yelle was a 29-year fixture on the baseball diamond at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Yelle twice earned Coach-of-the-Year honors in the Minnesota Community College Conference, the predecessor to the MCAC, winning over 450 contests in his time as a Golden Ram. Yelle was also very active and influential on the American Legion baseball circuit. Additionally, he served as a Bantam-level hockey coach in the Coon Rapids area and was an assistant high school hockey coach as well. A major factor in the establish of and success in athletics at Anoka-Ramsey, Yelle is a Chicago native who made his way to the University of Minnesota. Yelle lived in Coon Rapids for 59 years, significantly impacting the life of countless student-athletes through athletics. Yelle was also at home on the other side of sports section; he spent almost four decades in the newspaper industry, both as a writer and editor. The U-of-M Journalism major was noted for moving on dozen's of former Golden Rams to the next level of college baseball, including several into the NCAA Division I ranks. Yelle was nominated by ARCC athletic director and softball coach, Dave Alto.
For more about Tom Yelle, go to: http://arccgoldenrams.com/sports/bsb/2015-16/releases/20160421ehvuo8
Be sure to check out this YouTube video on Yelle's influence on baseball in Coon Rapids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dED5Pf394w
(Tom Yelle, center, Anoka-Ramsey Community College)
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference has posted the MCAC Hall-of-Fame online at: http://www.mcacsports.org/information/MCAC_Hall_of_Fame
About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.