Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony, Jan. 26
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Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony, Jan. 26

Seven former student athletes to be honored during halftime at Men's Basketball game

The Parkland College Foundation and the Parkland College Athletics department have announced the newest members of the Parkland College Athletic Hall of Fame. 

The Class of 2018 will be honored at festivities Saturday, Jan. 26 in the Dodds Athletic Center, in conjunction with the Cobras Men's Basketball game versus Danville Area Community College. The game begins at 3 p.m. This is the 12th Hall of Fame class chosen since the inaugural induction ceremony in 2007.

The following inductees, seven student athletes, will be introduced during halftime at the game (some time after 3:30 p.m.) and honored at a private reception in the Student Union immediately following. Each was nominated by former Parkland College coaches and administrators and finalized in a vote by the Hall of Fame selection committee. SuperValu is the presenting sponsor for the induction ceremony.

The 2018 Parkland College Athletic Hall of Fame class includes:

  • Marty Kirby '76, Baseball. Kirby was a multisport athlete at Urbana High School, earning a total of seven varsity letters before graduating in 1974. He came to Parkland College to play for the Cobras in 1975 and 1976, where he earned the team MVP and batted .388 before transferring to the University of Illinois and the UI Baseball Team. In the summer of 1975, he started a 10-year stint as an outfielder in the amateur Eastern Illinois Baseball League. He had a career E.I. batting average of .328 and earned all-star status in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980. Kirby also hit 23 home runs during his E.I. career. He finished among the E.I.'s top 10 batting leaders twice, ending eighth in 1977 (.418 average) and seventh in 1980 (.419 average). From 1980-85 he served as the player-coach for the Thomasboro E.I. entry, compiling a six-year record of 118-46.  He became the first coach in the history of the now-84-year-old E.I. to guide four consecutive teams to regular-season championships, doing so from 1982-85 and a tournament championship in 1985. He then served as President of E.I. from 1991-2000. Kirby also had returned to Parkland College as the head baseball coach for three seasons, from 1983 to 1985. 

    The longtime owner of Kirby & Turner Masonry, Kirby coached youth baseball teams from 2000 to 2007. Among those highlights were guiding the 2000 Brownfield Sports team to the Twin City Championship with an unblemished 23-0 record. He also served as head coach for the Urbana Legion Post 71 team. He coached the Post 71 junior program from 2004 to 2007, with the 34-17 team in 2005 team advancing to the national tournament in Ohio.

  • Brittany Fallis Perez '09, Volleyball. Perez played for Parkland College during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. During her 2008 season, she played in 120 sets with 16 aces (.12 aces/set) and 494 digs (3.83 digs/set). During the 2009 season, she played 149 sets, had 869 digs (5.83 digs/set) and was First Team All-American, First Team All-Region 24, and First Team All-MWAC. Following Parkland, Perez went on to play Division 1 volleyball for the University of Pittsburgh as defensive specialist from 2009-2011 where she earned her BS in Administrative Justice and Legal Studies. Perez was granted an internship at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office in Pittsburgh in 2011 where she participated in forensic investigations on various crime scenes. She is currently a paralegal at the law firm of Heyl Royster in Peoria, where her focus is in the toxic tort practice groups.

  • Hannah Ohl Cronk, '11, Basketball. Cronk played for Parkland College from 2009 to 2011. In 2009, she helped lead her team to an MWAC Conference Championship, Region 24 Championship, and a third-place finish at the National Tournament. Earning honors of MWAC 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All Region, Parkland Female Athlete of the Year, and National All-Tournament Team, Cronk was also named a 1st Team NJCAA All-American. After Parkland she transferred and continued her basketball career at the NCAA Division I institution, The University of South Carolina Upstate, where she earned her BS in Exercise Science. Cronk went on to earn a MS in Kinesiology and Sports Students from Eastern Illinois University. She is currently an assistant women’s basketball coach at Danville Community College. She resides in the Danville area with her husband, Logan. 

  • Heidi McKean Wlezien '09, Basketball. Wlezien played for Parkland College during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. In 2009, along with the team finishing fourth at NJCAA Nationals, she was named First Team NJCAA All-American, Region 24 All-Region, and Parkland Co-Female Athlete of the Year. Wlezien received the Parkland Female Academic Achievement Award along with being a two-time M-WAC All-Conference selection. She averaged 11.5 points and 4.1 assists per game during the 2008 season and 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game during the 2009 season. After Parkland, Wlezien played for Upper Iowa University, where she received the Senior Student Athletic Trainer of the Year Awar before graduating with a degree in athletic training. She obtained her master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern Illinois University, where she was a graduate assistant athletic trainer working with women’s rugby, basketball, and swimming. After earning her master's degree, Wlezien served as head athletic trainer for the Chicago Sky and also served as the athletic trainer for the WNBA All-Star East team in 2015. She is currently an associate athletic trainer for the Women’s Basketball team at the University of Texas at Austin. She will be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in May 2019.

  • Lennox Forrester '89, Basketball. Forrester played for the Cobras during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. In 1989, he was selected as an NJCAA All-American, All-Region and All-Conference. His career included being a member of two of the Cobras' top-five finishes, where they were 2nd in 1988 and 4th in 1989.

    Forrester then earned a Division I scholarship to the University of Evansville, where he played two seasons, finishing first in the conference, winning the conference tournament, and reaching the NCAA tournament in his senior year. Forrester earned his BS in Sociology in 1992 and spent the next 25 years as a college basketball coach. Starting his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Evansville for 12 years, Forrester moved to Bradley University as an assistant coach and helped the Bradley team earn wins over Kansas and Pittsburgh to make it into the Sweet 16 in the 2005-2007 seasons. Forrester finished his long career in coaching as the head coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for eight seasons, guiding them from Division II to Division I. He currently serves as the executive director at the Downtown Belleville YMCA in Belleville, where he lives with his wife Racquel and daughter Calaya. 

  • Denise McGrath '02, Volleyball. McGrath played for the Cobras in 2001 and 2002 where she was team captain, an NJCAA All-American, on the NJCAA National All-Tournament First Team, and was the 2002 Conference Player of the Year. After Parkland, she graduated with honors earning her BS from the University of Illinois with an emphasis on Marketing and Sport Management. She was on the UI Dean’s List and the National Dean’s List and graduated with honors. Moving to Albuquerque, New Mex., in 2005, McGrath began a successful career in sales and management, selling laboratory, healthcare, and clean-room products; she was recognized as Regional Sales Representative of the Year in 2010. She now lives in Bloomington, Ind., with her husband Brok and their three young children Ava, Eli, and Ian.

  • Rebecca Koets '02, Softball. Rebecca Koets played for Cobras in 2001 and 2002, where she batted .423, fielded .933, and had 58 RBIs. She was All-Conference 1st Team, All-Region 1st Team, NFCA All-Region 1st Team, and NJCAA All-American 1st Team. Koets continued her career at Northland College in Ashland, Wisc., where she earned her BS in 2004. She moved to California and completed her HR certification. Koets left corporate life to travel, help with family, and enjoy a minimalist lifestyle. She lived in a tiny house (like those in the television show), traveled all over the U.S., lived in five different states, completed the San Francisco Nike Marathon in 2009 and the Ragnar Bourbon Chase in 2018, and continues to play co-ed slow pitch softball today.  

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