On Saturday, February 23rd, the John Wood athletic department officially announced and inducted the 2019 Hall of Fame Class. With a halftime introduction at the men's basketball game and a full induction ceremony immediately following the game, these three individuals represent what the college is intended to create with the start of Trail Blazer athletics in 1990. All three shared stories of relationships and the meaning of being a true Trail Blazer.

Congratulations to our 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees:

Kate Ward, a graduate of Pittsfield (IL) High School, was a member of the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 Lady Blazer women’s softball team, helping leading them to the best two-year run in our softball’s history. The 57 wins over the two year span, including a program-best 33 wins as a sophomore, still stands as the best back to back seasons the Lady Blazers have had on the diamond. She was a two-time All-Conference and All-Region selection and named as the Central Collegiate Conference of Illinois’s Freshman of the Year following the Spring 2004 campaign.  Kate’s statistical career is still recognized as one of the best to wear a Lady Blazer uniform, as her name is a mainstay on many of the all-time leader categories, including Top 2 in programs history in Season total bases, career total bases, season doubles, career doubles, and season walks. Her name can also be found in the Top 10 in categories such as Season and Career games played, season and career runs scored, and season and career home runs.  After her time as a Trail Blazer, she continued an incredible career at Iowa Wesleyan University. She was a two-time All-Conference performer, a two time conference player of the year, and the first NAIA All American in Iowa Wesleyan softball’s history. During her two years in Mount Pleasant, she set 10 individual school records while starting in all 102 games she played at Iowa Wesleyan.  Kate is currently married to Amanda Ward, lives in Pittsfield, IL, and words as a Special Education teacher at Pikeland Unit 10. Please help me welcome Ms. Kate Ward back to John Wood!


Coach Jim Schlager, a resident of Canton, MO, has been a long time coach, a lifelong mentor to student-athletes, and a true ambassador of John Wood athletics. Starting his John Wood coaching career in 1998, Coach Schlager has been the rock that Trail Blazer softball has been built upon. His reputation to be tough, but incredibly fair, to his student-athletes has impacted 100’s of former Blazers as they started their intercollegiate career here on our John Wood campus. From overseeing game days at Park District fields, driving vans all over the country, and then playing a critical role in the development of our current softball facility, Coach Schlager is a Trail Blazer in every phase of the word. Coach was named Conference and Region Coach of the Year four separate times and is the all-time leader in coaching wins in the softball program’s history. His 14 year career at the helm of that program has led to numerous All-Conference, All-Region, All-American, and Academic award winners over the years. Jim’s daughter, Cathy, was one of those award winning student-athletes and he now joins her in the John Wood Athletic Hall of Fame. Please help me welcome Coach Jim Schlager back to John Wood!




The Dr. John Letts Blazer Pride Award
The Dr. John Letts Blazer Pride Award was created in 2017 for individuals that have demonstrated a support for John Wood athletics through voluntarism, service, and leadership as exemplified by its namesake. This award will be presented to those contributors that were not coaches, athletes or members of a team that, through time, have exceeded expectations in their support of a particular athletic program or the totality of the John Wood athletic department. Dr. John Letts played an integral role in the development of athletics at JWCC when the first athletic staff member was hired in 1990. His fingerprint is throughout the college, including the development and additions of athletic facilities and programs. He was a constant presence at athletic contests and served as a volunteer at the scorer’s table for many years. Letts was the Dean of Student Services when the athletic department was established then later served as the Vice President of Student Services until being named the fifth President of John Wood Community College in January 2012. After more than 25 years in key leadership roles at the college, Dr. Letts retired in 2014 and this award is in recognition of his service and contributions. Ladies & gentlemen, Dr. John Letts.



This year’s recipient of the John Wood is Lois Coonrod. Lois was one of the original Trail Blazers, providing support, guidance, and cheer since the inaugural basketball season in 1992. Her dedication to student-athletes’ well-being and her willingness to connect with student-athletes over the years has gone unmatched. From organizing pep rallies, to driving cheerleaders to national tournaments, to being a guaranteed attendee at both home and away Trail Blazer games, she has been a critical piece to our foundation in making Trail Blazer athletics what it is today. Coonrod, a human resources benefits specialist, began her career at JWCC in 1978. During her career, she received numerous honors and served on multiple college committees. She was named the 1994-95 Classified Employee of the Year, was a member of the Team of the Year-Holiday Dinner Committee in 2003, received the Team Member of the Year Award for the JWCC Capital Campaign in 2004 and received the Staff Member of the Year Award in 2010. She served on almost every standing committee at JWCC. She co-chaired the Employee Capital Campaign to build the Student Activity Center in 2004, was a member of the Graduation Committee, served as liaison for JWCC Annuitant Association and continues to be active on the John Wood Hall of Fame Committee and Adams County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Council. Lois is a shining example of what makes John Wood athletics different – so, please, help me welcome our 2019 Dr. John Letts Blazer Pride award winner, Lois Coonrod.