The new class, which will be inducted during homecoming weekend in October, includes tennis players Molly (Cope) Breunig and Coralie (Lockner) Beckman, football player Jess Cole, basketball player Brian Krueger and baseball player Gary Paulson.
This group represents the 39th class of men’s inductees and the 26th class of women’s inductees and brings the number of athletes, coaches and administrators who have been honored to 210.
The Blugold Hall of Fame was established in 1973 to pay tribute, to give deserved recognition and to enhance school tradition by honoring former athletic letterwinners, coaches or administrators who showed distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while on the campus at Eau Claire and have distinguished themselves in their profession or personally since leaving the institution.
For women athletes, there must be a lapse of 14 years from their final season of eligibility before they can be considered for induction and for men 15 years.
The class will be inducted Friday, October 9 and then honored by riding in the homecoming parade Saturday morning and introduced at halftime of the football game vs. UW-River Falls Saturday afternoon. The induction banquet will take place in the Ojibwe Room of the Davies Center on campus with a social hour at 4:30 p.m., banquet at 5:30 p.m. and program at 6:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and the football game at 1 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $25 and can be obtained by contacting the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association at (715) 836-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Former WEAU TV 13 sports director and current UW-Eau Claire Foundation employee Rick Foy will present the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees.
Besides outstanding athletic credentials for this year’s class, the five have distinguished themselves professionally, personally and/or in community service since leaving the institution, according to Tim Petermann, Blugold Hall of Fame Executive Director.
CORALIE (LOCKNER) BECKMAN
Coralie Lockner Beckman is one of four Blugold women’s tennis players who was named to the 12-member Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Centennial women’s tennis team in 2012.
During her Blugold career, Beckman won three conference singles titles and contributed to two conference doubles crowns. She helped the Blugolds to WIAC team championships all four years she was on the team and was a member of the first Blugold team to qualify for the NCAA playoffs in 2000.
Coming out of Minneapolis Southwest High School, Beckman won the conference No. 1 singles title as a freshman, bumping teammate and Blugold Hall of Famer Kady Hickman out of the No. 1 spot in 1996 after Hickman had won the two previous conference No. 1 crowns.
The bumping continued the next year when Beckman was bumped to the No. 2 spot by Molly Cope, who became the most decorated women’s tennis player in WIAC history. Beckman then won the No. 2 singles crown as a sophomore and senior. She teamed with Angie Johnson to claim the No. 1 doubles title as a freshman and with Cope for the No. 1 doubles title as a junior. She played in every conference singles and doubles final during her career, finishing runner-up in the years she did not win.
Beckman compiled a 92-30 singles record including a 45-18 mark playing at No. 1 or in open competition. Her combined doubles record with Johnson and Cope was 84-31.
Beckman received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education in 2001 and obtained her master’s in education from St. Mary’s University of Winona in 2006. She spent eight years in early childhood special education in the Columbia Heights and St. Louis Park school districts. She was a Developmental Specialist/Family Resource Coordinator for two years in Achieve Center Pediatric Therapy in Spokane, Washington and a Developmental Specialist with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Infant/Toddler Program until the arrival of her first child in 2012.
Beckman is currently a stay-at-home mother with the arrival of a second daughter last November. Her husband Matt recently moved the family back to the Twin Cities to take a position as Director of Key Accounts for Ciceron, a digital marketing agency. He had been the Assistant Athletic Director at Boise State University in Idaho.
Beckman is still playing tennis in USTA Adult Leagues and has participated in the USTA Nationals.
MOLLY (COPE) BREUNIG
Molly Cope Breunig has all the credentials to be considered the most outstanding women’s tennis player in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history.
Breunig, who like Beckman is one of the four Blugold players to be named to the 12-member WIAC All-Centennial team, is the only player in conference history to win four consecutive No. 1 singles titles. She also is one of just four women’s tennis players in conference history to earn All-American honors, doing that in both 1999 and 2001. She qualified for the NCAA individual tournament all four years as a Blugold and amassed a 97-21 career mark in singles play. As a senior, she won the Midwest Regional Qualifying Rolex tournament and lost in the finals of the National Rolex Small College Championships that year.
Coming out of Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Breunig took the conference by storm, moving into the No. 1 spot as she bumped the previous No. 1 singles player Coralie Lockner who had bumped the previous two-time No. 1 singles player Kady Hickman, both of whom were Blugolds as well. Breunig finished her freshman season with a 23-3 singles mark and was named the Midwest Region Rookie of the Year.
With Breunig leading the charge, the Blugolds won four conference team championships and qualified for the school’s first two NCAA appearances in 2000 and 2001.
Breunig also competed in doubles, compiling an 81-28 record including a conference No. 1 doubles championship with Beckman in 1998. She also lettered as a member of Lisa Stone’s Blugold basketball team in 1997-98 before dropping out of that sport to concentrate on tennis.
An outstanding student as an exercise management major, Breunig was co-winner of the WIAC Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete award for tennis as a senior and also was selected as a Blugold Super Six recipient.
Following her graduation, Breunig spent five years as a project manager for Tradition Development and since 2008 has been a part-time independent contractor, working for a real estate development company on the financial side. She took care of her niece Emily for two years and now is a stay-at-home mom with three daughters of her own: Mae, 6; Eve, who will be four in October and Olive who was born March 3 this year. Her husband Nathan, formerly a buyer for Target in Minneapolis, owns his own marketing company.
Breunig has continued to be a competitive athlete following her graduation. She has completed the Twin Cities and Grandma’s marathons. She won a national Mother-Daughter tennis tournament with her mom Cathy. She has played on numerous USTA tennis teams, qualifying and competing at national tournaments in both the women’s and mixed divisions. She plays on a World Team Tennis team, which has qualified for national tournament competition twice.
Jess Cole quarterbacked the Blugolds to a Wisconsin State University Conference championship in 1983 after a much-publicized transfer from the University of Wisconsin where the Mondovi native started for two years and led the Badgers to their first bowl game in 20 years.
During his two seasons directing Link Walker’s run-oriented offense, Cole led the Blugolds to a 16-5 overall mark and a 12-4 conference record. He accounted for 40 touchdowns during the two campaigns, rushing for 15 and passing for 25. During his Blugold career, he completed 244 of 473 passes for 3,463 yards and amassed 4,078 yards of total offense. Despite playing just two seasons, Cole still ranks eighth in career passing yards and TD passes.
Cole was the All-Conference quarterback in 1983 and a Blugold team captain in 1984. For his 1983 performance against UW-River Falls, Cole was tabbed the NAIA National Player of the Week.
Cole received his Bachelor’s in Business Administration degree in 1985 and has spent the past 30 years with Kraft Foods (now known as The Kraft Heinz Company), serving in nine different positions within six geographic locations--Kennewick, Washington; Tucson, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Missoula, Montana and Minneapolis, MN. He returned to the Midwest in 2000 and now serves as a Customer Category Manager III in the Twin Cities office.
Cole has won numerous awards with the company including an ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) Award in 2007, multiple Quarterly ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) Awards and 11 sales council awards which is an award based on annual business volume and divisional sales achievement.
Cole and his wife Elizabeth are parents of three children: Ashley, 25; Lyndsay, 21; and Dylan, 20. Athletics has always been a part of Cole’s life and he encouraged his children to participate in activities as well, whether that was via sports or dance. Cole spent many years volunteering with the Prior Lake Athletics for Youth Association--coaching football five years; boys basketball four years; girls basketball two years; and softball four years.
Brian Krueger was a 6-8 forward who scored over 1,000 points during his career and was the Blugold team MVP as a senior.
Krueger played in 111 games and started 72 during his four-year career from 1982-86. The Blugolds amassed an 88-29 record during that period under legendary coach Ken Anderson.
After finishing as NAIA District 14 runner-up to UW-Stevens Point in 1984 and 1985, the Blugolds beat the Pointers, who had won the Wisconsin State University Conference championship, 47-46, in the district championship game at Stevens Point to advance to the NAIA Nationals in Kansas City in Krueger’s senior season. There, they were eliminated in the second round by Southwestern University of Texas.
Krueger had an outstanding senior season in leading the Blugolds to a 24-7 record. While earning All-Conference and All-District honors, Krueger led the team in scoring with a 15.1 average and in rebounding with a 6.0 mark. Playing before the implementation of the 3-point shot, Krueger was a good outside shooter but could also play with his back to the basket. He led the team in field goal percentage at .526 and also was .759 free throw shooter. The Blugolds were the No. 1 defensive team in the NAIA in 1986, giving up just 55.1 points per outing. The Hartford High School prep standout led the Blugolds in blocked shots with 31 and also came up with 80 recoveries, steals and forced turnovers that season.
For his career, Krueger scored 1,041 points at a 9.3 clip and added 476 rebounds, 212 assists, 58 blocks and 66 steals. He was voted the Most Valuable Freshman in 1982-83 and won the team’s “Big D” award for his defensive work as a sophomore. After earning All-Conference honorable mention his junior year, he was selected to travel with the NAIA All-Stars to Greece and Israel the summer of 1984 but the trip was cancelled. Instead, he traveled with the Mid-West All-Stars that toured Europe that summer.
Krueger received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in advertising design in 1986. Since 2004, he has been the Senior Content Studio Manager for Birdsall, Voss & Associates, a full service advertising agency in Milwaukee. Prior to that, Krueger spent 12 years with The Mark Travel Corporation as Senior Production Designer and Production Manager. He spent the first two years of his design career with The Hartford Booster newspaper.
The year after his graduation from UWEC, Krueger had a tryout with the Oshkosh Flyers of the CBA and was one of the last players cut. He then played two years with the Vaerlose Basketball Club in Denmark’s First Division. He led the team in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage both years with a 32 ppg average in 1989. He also coached two junior teams within the club.
While playing in Denmark, Vaerlose played against a touring Canada/Estonia Team which included several ex-Canadian Olympic players. He was asked to join the team and travelled to Estonia to play in a European tournament.
Krueger also played with Wausau-based Loppnow’s, a team dominated by former Blugold players, which won three golds and a silver in the Badger State Games.
Krueger and his wife Angi, who is Vice President of Business Development for Core Creative in Milwaukee, have one son Jace, who is 11.
According to recently updated Blugold baseball statistics, Gary Paulson owns the best career batting average in school history, a lofty .416 average. He also owns the best career on base percentage at .522 and has the second-best career slugging percentage at .627.
The White Bear Lake, Minnesota native had a stellar three-year Blugold career after transferring from the University of Minnesota. In 84 career games, he had 116 hits with 19 doubles, five triples and 10 home runs. He had an unbelievable 62 to 29 walks to strikeout ratio.
His senior season in 1985 produced some nationally-ranked totals. He hit .500 in 28 games with 17 extra base hits for an .854 slugging percentage. He struck out just four times in 96 at bats. Paulson ranked nationally in the final NAIA stats in hitting (5th), hits per game (7th) and runs per game (13th). The 5-9, 180-pound outfielder was the team MVP after earning All-Conference and NAIA All-District 14 honors.
Despite playing only three seasons, Paulson holds the school career records for steals (43) and walks (62).
Paulson, who graduated in 1985 with a degree in business administration, is currently the Director of Parts & Service for the St. Paul, Minnesota-based MacQueen Equipment Group, which offers refuse, sewer, street and snow equipment along with a hydro-excavating rental fleet. Paulson has had a 29-year career as a sales, marketing and management professional in the paper, packaging and mechanical construction industries.
The White Bear Mariner high school athlete of the year in 1981 after earning All-State honors in football and baseball and starting on the hockey team, Paulson was inducted into his high school Hall of Fame in 2003. Following his graduation from UWEC, he played for the Eau Claire Cavaliers, earning team MVP honors as the leading hitter in 1985.
Paulson has served multiple terms as President and Vice President of the White Bear Girls Fastpitch Softball Association, coaching traveling and elite traveling teams. He also coached a top level traveling basketball team for the White Bear Basketball Association. He has also coached high school football for New Life Academy.
Paulson has been active in his church including Feed My Starving Children and World Vision and is also sponsoring a child from Mozambique, Africa.
Paulson and his wife Sherry have two daughters: Lindsay, 22; and Kasey, 21.
WIAC = Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
(current conference for men’s and women’s sports, combined in 1996)
WSUC = Wisconsin State University Conference (former men’s only conference)
NAIA = National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (former national organization to which UWEC belonged through the 1992-93 seasons)
NCAA = National Collegiate Athletic Association (current national organization which UWEC joined provisionally in 1986-87)
USTA = United States Tennis Association