MADISON, Wis. – The Final Four. Two Rose Bowl titles. A pair of WCHA championships. An Olympic gold medal. Two All-Americans. A Big Ten Coach of the Year. No matter how you look at it, the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2014 certainly has some star power.
Steve Bennett earned four letters in baseball from 1973-1976. He made an immediate impact, leading the Badgers in doubles and RBIs as a freshman. The following season, Bennett earned All-America honors while leading the nation in doubles. That year he paced the Big Ten in RBIs and finished second in batting average (.458). He went on to set the school career records for hits, doubles and RBIs and is one of just five two-time All-Big Ten selections in UW history.
A member of the National Rowing Hall of Fame, Beau Hoopman was a Badger from 1999-2003. As a freshman, he earned UW’s Randall T. Jablonic Award for leading the freshman eight to UW’s first-ever EARC conference title. Then, as a senior captain, Hoopman guided the men’s eight to the Badgers’ first EARC conference championship since 1946. After graduation, Hoopman won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and a bronze in the 2008 Games in the men’s eight.
Mike Kelley was the face of the Badgers’ 2000 Final Four team. His tenacious defense and gritty play embodied the character of that historic squad. The 1999 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Kelley still holds the school record with 275 career steals, a mark that ranks fourth in Big Ten history. His 95 steals in 1999-2000 are the most in school history and his 19 thefts in the 2000 NCAA Tournament is tied for second-most all-time. Kelley was a Wooden Award finalist as a senior and earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2001.
While running back Ron Dayne received most of the glory in the late ’90s, left tackle Chris McIntosh was instrumental in his success. McIntosh was a four-year starter on UW’s offensive line and a team captain on both the 1998 and 1999 teams that won Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles. As a senior, McIntosh was a consensus first-team All-American and finalist for the Outland Trophy. Following his Wisconsin career, he was chosen in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
Steve Reinprecht is the only player in school history to lead the Badgers in scoring in three straight seasons. As a sophomore, he helped UW win the Broadmoor Trophy (WCHA playoffs) then captained the 1999-2000 team to the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season). Reinprecht led the country in scoring in 2000, earning first-team All-America honors and finishing as the runner-up in the Hobey Baker Memorial Award voting. He played 11 seasons in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
The first women’s tennis player inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame, Melissa Zimpfer re-wrote the Badgers’ record book from 1995-1997. A three-time All-American (twice in singles, once in doubles) Zimpfer holds the UW single-season records for singles and doubles wins as well as the career singles winning percentage record (71-13, .845). In 1996 she climbed as high as No. 3 in the national rankings and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. The following season, she earned ITA Senior Player of the Year honors.
Steve Lowe coached the Badgers’ volleyball team for five seasons, from 1986-1990, transforming UW from a struggling program into a national powerhouse. Wisconsin went 7-24 and finished ninth in the Big Ten prior to Lowe’s first year in Madison. In his final season, the Badgers went 29-8 and won the program’s first Big Ten title. That year, UW also made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16. Lowe, who had a 108-64 career record at Wisconsin, earned 1990 Big Ten and AVCA Mideast Coach of the Year honors.
Unfortunately, Lowe’s coaching career was cut short when he lost his battle to lung cancer shortly before the 1991 season. Every year, Wisconsin’s Big Ten home opener is designated “Steve Lowe Night” in honor of the former coach. In addition, a Badger volleyball player who exemplifies Lowe’s love of the game is named the recipient of the Steve Lowe Memorial Scholarship.
The Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will officially be inducted on Friday, Sept. 5 in Heritage Hall at Camp Randall Stadium. The group will also be honored the next day on the field at Camp Randall during the football team’s home opener vs. Western Illinois.