NORMAL - John Coughlan can say, without bragging, that he belongs in the same class as John Wooden. Coughlan, who was Illinois State's track and field/cross country coach for 23 years before retiring in 2000, will join Wooden and four others who were named on Thursday for induction into the Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame.
Also in the six-person induction class are basketball standout Junior Bridgeman of Louisville, late basketball coach Eddie Hickey of Creighton and Saint Louis, women's basketball star Lorri Bauman of Drake, and late coach and athletic director John L. Griffith of Drake.
The induction ceremony, held in conjunction with the Valley Men's Basketball Tournament, will take place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 6.
"It's kind of humbling, to be honest with you," said Coughlan. "(Wooden) is certainly an icon every coach in every sport admires. That makes being inducted more humbling to see people like that."
Coughlan will be inducted into the Coaches Wing of the Valley Hall of Fame. Wooden is being inducted into the Lifetime Achievement category which honors former players, coaches, administrators or alumni who competed, worked or attended a current league school.
Wooden, now 98 and living in Los Angeles, was basketball coach, baseball coach and athletic director at Indiana State for two seasons from 1946-48. He also was an All-American basketball player at Purdue in the early 1930s.
While earning his master's degree at Indiana State, Wooden compiled a 44-15 record as basketball coach while leading the Sycamores to postseason tournament appearances each year.
Coughlan, who also coached the ISU women's program for eight years, led the Redbirds to 25 league championships and directed 291 individual Valley champions. He was a 24-time Valley Coach of the Year along with capturing the district coach-of-the-year honors nine times and the 1995 national coach-of-the-year award.
On the national level, Coughlan coached 195 student-athletes to the NCAA Championships in 18 different track events, producing 37 All-Americans.
"When you retire you look back at the success of the athletes and the terrific time you had coaching them, and you don't consider this (being inducted into a hall of fame)," said Coughlan. "When it happens it makes you step back and look at your career and know how blessed and very fortunate you were."
Coughlan is also is a member of the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame (1993), the Drake Relays Hall of Fame (1997) and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2006).
The induction begins with an 8 a.m. breakfast, followed by the ceremony at 8:45. Tickets can be purchased by calling the league office at (314) 421-0339.
Williams joins wrestling hall
Former ISU wrestling standout Willie Williams will be inducted on Sunday into the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame during a banquet in Countryside.
Williams was ISU's first-ever All-American and was an NCAA College Division national champion as a senior in 1967. He later earned National Greco-Roman titles in 1971 and 1973-78 as well as being the National Freestyle champion in 1973. Williams was a member of the U.S. World Wrestling Team in 1970-71 and 1973-75.