The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) inducted four new members into the Athletic Hall of Fame, and Bulldog country honored the inductees in the first intermission of the UMD men's hockey game on Saturday at AMSOIL Arena.
The Class of 2018 includes Bob Nielson, Tom Waitrovich, Dale "Hoagie" Haagenson and former women's hockey star Jenny Potter.
Potter was the first women's hockey player to bring back a gold medal as part of Team USA in 1998 Winter Olympics.
She is proud that a fellow Bulldog could end the drought 20 years later and follow in her footsteps.
"It's great part of being history, and it's great to have, I guess, be a pioneer in one sense in starting the tradition of here at the Bulldogs as well as continue that on in the international scene in the Olympics," said Potter.
Nielson served 10 seasons as UMD's head football coach, winning NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010. He was also the school's athletic director from 2003-2013, overseeing five total national titles for the Bulldogs.
Potter, meanwhile, won a NCAA Division I championship with the UMD women's hockey team in 2003 and is still that program's all-time leading scorer with 256 career points. She is UMD's only three-time first-team All-American and also has three Olympic medals, including a 1998 gold, to her name.
The other two inductees are longtime volunteer assistant Dale "Hoagie" Haagenson and former All-American golfer Tom Waitrovich.
The Class of 2018 will be the 20th class entered into UMD's Athletic Hall of Fame, with a banquet scheduled for March 3. The inductees will also be honored later that same day at the first intermission of the men's hockey game at AMSOIL Arena.
Dale "Hoagie" Haagenson
A fixture on the UMD hockey bench for well over three decades, Haagenson joined the Bulldog staff in 1981-82 and since that time has resolutely served as the club's assistant equipment manager and inspirational leader. He is the longest serving volunteer in UMD athletics history as 2017-18 is his 37th year of involvement. In celebration of Haagenson's 25th anniversary with the Bulldogs, UMD held a star-studded "Hoagie Appreciation Night" at the DECC on Feb. 24, 2005, and then-Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson officially proclaimed it "Hoagie Day" in the city. In addition, the "UMD Hoagie Men's Hockey Scholarship" was created in his honor the following year.
A native of Babbit, Minn., Haagenson is also a long-time and dedicated volunteer for the Bulldog football and baseball programs, lending his services at their home games. In 2003 when the Duluth Huskies officially joined the Northwoods League, Haagensen took over as that baseball franchise's assistant clubhouse manager, a position he's held ever since.
Haagenson was the recipient of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Noel Olson Volunteer of the Year Award in 2010 Hoagie and 10 years earlier received the Bruce Bennett Service Award for exceptional service and commitment to UMD athletics.
Nielson took the UMD program to unprecedented heights during his 10 seasons on the sidelines. Under his watch, the Bulldogs captured their first two NCAA II national championships (2008 and 2010), five Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles (including a school-record four in a row from 2008 to 2011) and five NSIC North Division crowns, turned in two perfect 15-0 regular seasons, and qualified for six NCAA II playoff appearances. Nielson also helped produced 30 All-Americans, 67 All-NSIC first team selections, two Harlon Hill Award finalists (running back Isaac Odim in 2009 and quarterback Ted Schlafke in 2008), seven CoSida Academic All-Americans, and the 2012 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award recipient (Garth Heikkinen) during his Bulldog stay, amassed a 100-26 overall record at UMD. That .793 career winning percentage was, at the time, the best mark in the storied Bulldog football. In 2010, Nielson and the Bulldogs did something no other NCAA II club had ever been able to do – finish 15-0 for a second time. For his efforts, he was bestowed with two of the most prestigious national coaching honors in Division II football – the American Football Coaches Association DII Coach of the Year and the Liberty Mutual DII Coach of the Year awards – in addition to being selected for that same honor by Don Hansen's Football Gazette and the NSIC. After a four-season hiatus, Nielson returned to the UMD football fold in 2008 and proceeded to oversee one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds in NCAA Division II history, taking a club which had gone 4-6 in 2007 and molding it into a national champion. Along the way, his Bulldogs rolled up a 15-0 overall mark (only the third NCAA II team, at the time, to ever accomplish that feat) and set or equaled 50 team and individual records, en route to Nielson being chosen the 2008 NCAA II Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly magazine, D2Football.com, and the Football Gazette. Nielson, a three-time NSIC Coach of the Year honoree (2010, 2008 and 2002), was officially hired as UMD's fourth full-time coach in the spring of 1999 and over the course of his first five seasons with the Bulldogs, he elevated the UMD program back to national prominence. In 2002, for example, his Bulldogs posted their second unbeaten, untied regular season record at that point (11-0), advanced to the NCAA II playoffs for the first time ever and captured the NSIC championship. Nielson's resume also includes directing UMD to its inaugural post-season appearance (the 2001 Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo.) and the school's second greatest one-year turnaround to date (the Bulldogs went 7-4 in 2000 after managing a 3-8 mark the previous fall).From 2003-04 until he left UMD to become the head football coach at Western Illinois University, Nielson also served as the Bulldogs' director of intercollegiate athletics. Over the course of those nine-plus seasons, UMD won a total five national team championships (two football, two women's hockey and one men's hockey) and 21 conference titles.
Nielson spent three seasons (2013-15) at Western Illinois (where he went 16-21) before taking over the head coaching responsibilities at another NCAA FCS school, the University of South Dakota. This fall, he guided the Coyotes to a 7-4 regular season record and the program's first-ever NCAA FCS playoff berth.
Potter joined the UMD women's hockey team in its first year of varsity existence (1999-2000) after spending her freshman season at the University the University of Minnesota. In her three seasons with the Bulldogs (1999-2000 and 2002-04), she racked up a school-record 256 points (108 goals and 148 assists) in just 102 games while helping lead UMD to one NCAA championship (2002-03) one WCHA regular season title (2002-03 ) and two WCHA playoff crowns (1999-2000 and 2002-2003). Potter, UMD's only three-time first team All-American, was also a Top 3 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award (most outstanding player in NCAA I women's hockey) in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and received WCHA Player of the Year honors in both 1999-2000 and 2003-04. She also reigned as the nation's top point producer as a sophomore while finishing third as a junior and second as a senior. The Edina, Minn., native continues to hold Bulldog single-season marks points (93 in 1999-2000), goals (41 in 1999-2000) and assists (57 in 2002-03) and program single-game highs for goals (six, which she accomplished twice).
Potter, UMD's Outstanding Senior Female Athlete Award recipient for 2003-04, was chosen to the WCHA's All-Decade Team in 2009. Beside the legacy she left at UMD, Potter also made an indelible imprint on the international hockey scene, skating for Team USA at the 1998 (gold medal), 2002 (silver), 2006 (bronze) and 2010 Olympic Games. She topped her teammates in scoring at the 2010 event and became the first Olympian to ever register back-to-back hat tricks that winter. In addition, Potter was also an integral part of four International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship title-winning U.S. teams (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011). After coaching Minnesota girls' high school hockey in Maple Grove and Coon Rapids, Minn. for nine winters, Potter was appointed the head women's hockey coach at Trinity College (Ct.) in 2013 and two years later landed that same role at Ohio State University.
Waitrovich put the wraps on a prosperous UMD golf career in the spring of 1982 by tying for 12th place the NCAA II Championships en route to attain All-American second team status. It marked the fourth straight NCAA II national meet appearance for the three-time All-Northern Intercollegiate Conference honoree (1980-82). Waitrovich, who captained UMD to its second NIC title in four years as a senior in 1981-82, captured individual honors at the 1981 NIC Championship after placing second the previous season.
He graduated from UMD in 1983 and the following summer was the runnerup at the Minnesota Golf Association (MGA) State Amateur Tournament. A native of Duluth, Waitrovich turned professional in 1985 and became a member of the PGA four years later. Since that time, he has won number PGA events including the 1989 Illinois PGA Fall Classic, the 1999 Northern Ohio PGA Club Professional Championship, the 2000 Northern Ohio PGA Section Championship, the 2009 Northern Ohio PGA Senior Match Play Championship and the 2013 Ohio Senior Open. Waitrovich has qualified for the National PGA Professional Championship on eight occasions (1989-91, 1994, 1996-97, 1999-2000 and 2011) and for the PGA Senior Club Professional Championship twice (2009, 2013). Since 1992, he has served as the head PGA Professional at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake, Ohio, and in in 2017 was inducted into the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame. He also was the recipient of the Northern Ohio PGA Golf Professional of the Year award (2014)