Geier, Heathcott, Struby Join Athletics Hall of Fame
Omaha, Neb. -- Three of Creighton's all-time greats, Heidi (Geier) Woodard, Mike Heathcott and Shannon Struby, were inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame at a banquet at the Downtown Doubletree last night. There are now 54 members of the Hall of Fame, which started in 1968 with the induction of Bob Gibson.
Volleyball senior Leah Ratzlaff and men's soccer player Matt Wieland were awarded female and male Rev. Carl M. Reinert S.J. Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, respectively, while Leo & Mary Ellen Knowles were named "Jaybackers of the Year."
Additionally, each Creighton team had one student-athlete claim a Most Inspirational Award for community service as well as outstanding athletic and academic performance.
Bios on Geier, Heathcott, Struby and the Knowles are below, as are a list of Most Inspirational Award honorees:
Heidi Geier Woodard
Creighton's all-time stolen base leader, Heidi (Geier) Woodard becomes the fourth player and fifth member of softball program to be inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame.
A product from Roncalli Catholic High School, Woodard played a vital role for the Jays at second base while helping to lead the resurgence of Creighton softball under coach Brent Vigness. In 1998 she hit .318 while leading the team with 27 runs, 48 hits and 15 steals as Creighton captured the MVC regular season title.
In 1999, she posted the fifth-best single season batting average in CU history, hitting .403 and was again the team leader in hits (75), RBI (34) and steals (24). Her performances guided the Jays to a sweep of the MVC regular season and tournament crowns and earned Creighton's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990.
Woodard ranks in the top five all-time in batting average (.358), hits (243) and runs (129) and remains first in career steals with 83. A three-time all-MVC pick, Woodard started all but one game of her storied career to accept Creighton's Carl M. Reinert Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 1999. She also became the first athlete in school history to twice be named a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Woodard graduated Creighton with a degree in journalism and an emphasis in public relations. She now works in Community Relations and Organizational Development at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. She and her husband, Ryan, still reside in Omaha. The couple has been married for six years and have two sons, Owen (4) and Austin (2).
A captain of the legendary 1991 College World Series team, Mike Heathcott becomes the ninth person in the history of Creighton baseball to be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.
Under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach Jim Hendry, Heathcott was named All-Missouri Valley Conference and Second Team All-American as a senior, when he helped the team set a school record for wins in a season with 51. Heathcott set the tone for the Jays' memorable postseason run with eight strikeouts in a complete game win over Pepperdine in the first game of the 1991 NCAA West Regional. Hendry handed him the ball again against Clemson to start the Jays first ever CWS game. Heathcott did not disappoint on the mound, leading the Jays to an 8-4 victory.
Upon graduation, Heathcott held seven single-season and career pitching records at Creighton. His senior year produced records for wins in a season with 15 and innings pitched with 132, marks still stand. To this day he is also Creighton's all-time wins leader with 33. These benchmarks are what all Bluejay pitchers look up to.
Heathcott was a 13th round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1991. He made his major league debut with the White Sox on August 28, 1998.
Heathcott graduated Creighton with a degree in marketing and now works for Southwest Airlines. He and his wife, JulieAnn, now reside in Arizona. They have been married for four years and have two children, Cole (3) and
Shannon Struby becomes the seventh women's basketball player to be inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame. When her playing career ended, she ranked fifth on Creighton's all-time scoring list, and currently sits ninth.
She is still second on the school's career rebounding list after leading the Bluejays in rebounding every year during her four-year career. To this day, Struby also remains in the school's top 10 in scoring average, field goals made and field goal percentage.
Struby was named the Western Athletic Conference "Freshman of the Year"
in 1990-91 and also received second-team all-WAC honors. She also earned a place on the WAC All-Tournament team while pacing Creighton in rebounding and finishing second in scoring. It was during this debut season also that Struby earned three of her four Conference Player of the Week honors.
As a sophomore, Struby was named first-team all-WAC as she helped lead Creighton to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Struby also led the Bluejays in rebounding for the second straight season as she started in all 29 games in which she appeared.
Struby received even more accolades during her junior season as she was named first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference. She averaged 12 points while grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game as the Bluejays won at least 20 games for a third straight season.
As a senior, Struby earned honorable mention all-conference honors as she finished fourth on the team in scoring and led the team in rebounding. Starting in all 31 games for Creighton, she helped the Bluejays to a fourth-straight 20-win season while reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Struby came to the Jays after a successful prep career at (Omaha) Millard South High School. During her senior season, Struby was named the Class A "Athlete of the Year" as well as all-state, all-superstate and all-metro. She also helped her team to a state championship during her junior season.
Currently, Struby is an assistant womenıs basketball coach at Dana College, as well as a Physical Therapist Assistant for Methodist Hospital Physical Therapy in Omaha.
2006 Jaybacker of the Year - Leo & Mary Ellen Knowles
Being honored tonight as the 2006 Jaybackers of the Year are Leo and Mary Ellen Knowles. Both are long-time supporters of Creighton Athletics.
The son of 1969 Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Donald "Pinky" Knowles, Leo grew up as part of the Creighton family. His father played basketball for the Bluejays in mid-1940's, including the memorable 1942-43 squad that finished 16-1.
After graduating from Creighton Prep, Leo would later earn his law degree from Creighton in 1976. His long-time run as a partner and director at McGrath North Mullin & Kratz law firm ended in March, when he became the Senior Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel at ConAgra. He is the Jaybacker President-elect while also a member of the Jaybacker Board and the Jamboree Committee.
Mary Ellen has stayed active as a member of the Leaders for Life
Committee, a key fundraiser for women's athletics.
Together, the couple are members of the Coaches Circle Fund, the Directors Fund, and long-time season ticket holders in multiple sports.
They have donated to fundraisers for tennis, baseball and the Bluejay Bash, in addition to facility renovations for the CU Sports Complex and the Student Academic Support Center. The duo has also contributed to the McGrath North Endowed Chair in Business Law.
The Knowles have five children (Kara, Mary, Emily, Luke, Dan) and five grandchildren.
Most Inspirational Awards
Men's Basketball: Anthony Tolliver
Women's Basketball: Kristi Woodard
Baseball (2004-05): Matt Goliber
Softball (2004-05): Kate Petullo
Men's Tennis: Vinny Meens
Women's Tennis: Lisa Ludwig
Men's Soccer: Matt Wieland
Women's Soccer: Kristine Willrett
Men's Cross Country: John Krumsee
Women's Cross Country: Angela Fisher
Crew: Abby Bruning
Volleyball: Mallory Lahm
Men's Golf: John Sutko
Women's Golf: Leigh Sutton
Dance Team: Kera Leonovicz