Bensenville, Ill. – Robert Morris University inducted three individuals and one team into the RMU Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, December 7th at The Edge Ice Arena. The fifth induction class was made up of Carley Bliss (Women's Soccer), Savannah Varner (Women's Hockey), Tom Wendlandt (Men's Hockey), and the 2001-2002 Men's Gold Hockey team and each was presented with their award by Provost Mablene Krueger, Senior Vice President Deb Brody, and Director of Athletics Megan Smith Eggert during the first intermission of Saturday night's RMU hockey game.
Biographies for this year's Hall of Fame inductees are below.
CARLEY BLISS – Women's Soccer (2000-2003)
Carley (pictured above with Associate Head Women's Soccer Coach Tom Czop & Head Coach Kurt Melcher) was the Eagles goaltender, and led the RMU team to two NAIA National Tournament Appearances during the 2002 & 2003 seasons. Carley is a special athlete who has been honored not only for her on field dominance in the net, but also for her academic leadership in the classroom.
During her four year career with RMU, Carley was named team captain, and certainly demonstrated leadership by example for the Eagles. As the RMU goaltender, Carley had 77 games played, 68 games started, racked up 6,550 minutes played, 414 saves, only 79 goals against, and 34 shutouts – leaving her with a career goals against average of 1.09 per game. On the heels of this success, she was named to the CCAC All-Conference 1st Team, the NAIA All-Region VII 1st Team, and the NAIA All American Honorable Mention teams in both her junior and senior campaigns in 2002& 2003.
In the classroom, Carley twice earned NAIA All-American Schlolar Athelte honors. Carley's leadership also earned her the RMU Champions of Character Award, the prestigious Eagle Award, and her Senior Awards at the conclusion of her 2003 season. After earning her Bachelor's of Business Administration degree, with 3.82 GPA from the RMU Chicago campus in 2004, Carley now works as a property team manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance.
SAVANNAH VARNER – Women's Hockey (2004-2008)
Savannah (pictured above with Senior Vice President Deb Brody & Provost Mablene Krueger) is our first female athlete who is being inducted for the second time. Along with her teammates, Savannah was previously inducted as part of the the 2004-2005 ACHA National Championship Team in 2010. Savannah is now honored for her individual contributions as an outstanding athlete here at Robert Morris University. Savannah is a distinct athlete whose contributions not only lent to her individual success on the ACHA National stage, but also impacted and inspired each RMU team that she was a part of with her competitiveness.
As a forward, Savannah was named to the ACHA All America 1st Team in all four seasons with the Eagles. As the all-time scoring leader for the Eagles, Savannah posted 197 goals & 118 assists, for a total of 315 points in her four year career. In her 2005-2006 sophomore campaign, Savannah averaged just over 2.3 points per game with 102 points in just 44 games. Savannah's on-ice success also garnered her quite a few additional national distinctions:
- 4 ACHA National Tournament appearances, 2005-2008
- 4 ACHA National All-Tournament Team selections, 2005-2008
- 2 team finishes as ACHA National Runners up, 2007 & 2008
- 2 team finishes as ACHA National Champions,
- 2007 Zoe M. Harris Award winner
- 2007 ACHA Women's Division 1, National Tournament MVP
Savannah completed her Bachelor's of Business Administration Degree in 2008 from the University's DuPage campus. Savannah is currently active in the Louisiana National Guard.
TOM WENDLANDT – Men's Hockey / First ever Gold Hockey Head Coach & Current Director of Hockey Operations (1999-Current)
Tom Wendlandt (pictured above with Director of Athletics Megan Smith Eggert) came to Robert Morris in 1999 with the tall task of starting a men's hockey program from scratch. Tom quickly brought the RMU hockey program to fruition, with the first ever men's gold team participating in the ACHA just the following season in 2000-2001. Tom posted a 110-96-10 personal coaching record at "RMC", and earned his 100th win in just his fifth season on the bench for the Eagles.
Just one season after its inception, Tom led the #2 ranked Gold Hockey team to a first place finish in the MACHA, and the University's first ever ACHA National Tournament appearance in 2001-2002. That season's success earned Tom ACHA Division 2 Central Division Coach of the Year honors. The following year, in 2002, Tom was appointed Director of Hockey Operations for Robert Morris University.
Aside from his coaching tenure, Tom has contributed years of commitment to making RMU Hockey a program to be proud of. Since 1999, Tom has:
- Grown RMU Hockey from one team at the Chicago location to 6 men's teams and 1 women's team, offering experiences to our student-athletes at 10 campus locations.
- Has seen 1,000+ student-athletes flourish in the RMU Hockey program, enrolling approximately 170+ students per year in recent years.
- Overseen many men's & women's ACHA National Tournament appearances, and Championships
- Orchestrated RMU to host multiple ACHA men's & women's National Tournaments
- Currently working to grow RMU Hockey to 7 men's teams, and 2 women's teams, for a total of 9 teams and 240+ athletes for the 2014-2015 seasons.
In the words of RMU Head Gold Coach Chico Adrahtas – " When I think of 'Hall of Fame', I think of lasting legacy, and when it comes to Robert Morris Univesity Athletics and lasting legacy, there is one name that comes to mind, Tom Wendlandt."
2001-2002 MEN'S GOLD HOCKEY TEAM (pictured at top)
In the RMU Gold Hockey program's second year of existence, the 2001-2002 team quickly made "Robert Morris College" hockey a competitor, and a name known at the national level. This team is being awarded this evening for 4 very impressive distinctions:
- First RMU hockey team to be declared MACHA regular season champions
- First RMU hockey team to be ranked in the ACHA, at #2
- First RMU hockey team to qualify for the ACHA National Tournament
- 2nd team in ACHA history to qualify for the National Tournament in their first season of eligibility
Among this team, there have also been quite a few individual distinctions which include:
- The first RMU hockey player to graduate with a 4.0 and be elected University Valedictorian (Steve Chikerotis)
- First RMU Hockey member to be elected to the World University Games team (Rudy Moser)
- Two individual members previously selected to the RMU Hall of Fame – (Toby Grahovec & Tom Boudreau)
- First RMU Hockey coach to be selected into the RMU Hall of Fame – Tom Wendlandt
Today, all of the 2001-2002 hockey gradUates are doing great things – among this group there are union workers, graphic designers, business managers, personal chefs, a professional race car driver, and police detective.
Congratulations, Coaches, athletes, and volunteers from the 2001-2002 Men's Gold Hockey Team:
Head Coach- Tom Wendlandt
Assistant Coach- Donny Momchilov
#1- Joe Weingart
#2- Chad Becker
#4- Dana Hilliker
#5- Steve Chikerotis
#7- Tony Cacciatore
#8- Rudy Moser
#11- Bob McMillin
#12- Toby Grahovec
#13- Mike Panas
#15- Brian Moore
#16- Tom Cihocki
#17- Tom Boudreau
#18- Jeff Berndt
#19- John Deck
#20- Matt Roberts
#21- Joe Benning
#27- Tom Taylor
#28- Andrew Gillespie
#30- Jason Poremba
#31- Steve Burchill
#35- Bobby Moretti
#37- Kevin High
#40- Luke Chikerotis
#81- Mike Stryzek
Team Manager – Michael Vollmer
Team Volunteer –Lynne Wendlandt
Team Volunteer- Andy Storz