Hillsdale College inducted three former athletes — Ashlee Crowder ’13, Amanda Putt Eccleston ’12, and Andre Holmes ’11 — and the 1969 football team into the Hall of Fame at the Searle Center on Saturday.
The Athletic Hall of Fame Committee chose the members of its 20th class for their contributions to all aspects of the Hillsdale College athletic department while at Hillsdale and beyond.
“Our student-athletes past and present exhibit immense effort, discipline, and integrity, and it’s an honor to recognize their outstanding achievements,” Hillsdale College Athletic Director Don Brubacher said in a press release. “We’re proud of the excellence Amanda, Andre, and Ashlee have achieved both in the Chargers uniform and after leaving Hillsdale’s campus.”
Crowder helped lead the Chargers to GLIAC volleyball championships in 2009, 2010, and 2011 when the team won the school’s first NCAA Division II regional championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
A three-time All-American athlete, Crowder holds the record for all-time kills for Charger volleyball at 1,703 and holds two GLIAC Player of the Year awards as well as a 2010 Midwest Region Player of the Year award.
Crowder currently works as a coach with the University of Indianapolis women’s volleyball team.
Eccleston won three national NCAA Division II titles, securing first place in the mile and 800-meter at the 2012 NCAA Division II Indoor Track Championships and first in the 1500-meter at the 2012 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track Championships. Eccleston, the 2012 NCAA Division II Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, missed missing qualification for the U.S. Olympic team in 2016 by 0.03 seconds in the 1500-meter run but is training for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Eccleston said she was honored to train next to Hillsdale athletes.
“It’s a huge honor,” Eccleston said. “I’ve really enjoyed my four years here being an athlete and seeing all these phenomenal athletes ahead of me, and it was something I definitely strived for but wasn’t sure if it would ever be attainable. So it’s a huge honor and I’m very appreciative to the College for recognizing my achievements.”
In 1968 the Hillsdale College Board of Trustees voted to adopt the “Charger” nickname to its athletic program. The ‘69 football team, coached by Frank “Muddy” Waters, embraced the nickname as they demolished their way to an 8 – 1 regular season record, qualifying for the NAIA national playoffs for the second time in school history.
The Chargers led the nation in scoring with an average of 33.1 points per game. The team outscored their opponents by a total of 145 – 8 its the final three regular-season games.
But the Chargers didn’t stop there.
Chester Marcol, who holds the record for the longest field goal at Hillsdale, was drafted 34th to the Green Bay Packers. He played for the Packers from 1972 – 1980 and was named Rookie of the Year in 1972. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1987.
Archie Robinson played for the Miami Dolphins when the Dolphins went 14 – 0 and won Super Bowl VIII.
Dick Kraatz was the NAIA’s leading scorer for the 1969 season.
Holmes helped lead the 2009 and 2010 Chargers teams to NCAA regional playoff appearances and holds the school’s all-time record for receiving yardage and single-game reception record with 16 catches in the 2010 NCAA regional playoffs.
Holmes racked up 181 catches for 2,444 yards, scoring 17 touchdowns during his junior and senior years. After Hillsdale, Holmes led the Oakland Raiders in receiving yards in 2014. Holmes just completed his sixth NFL season with the Buffalo Bills and has played in 76 NFL games with 115 receptions for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“It feels amazing [being inducted into the Hall of Fame],” Holmes said. “Just like in the video when I was talking about seeing all the people in the Hall of Fame on a daily basis walking through the hallways to go to the locker room. It means so much. I couldn’t have ever dreamt to make the Hall of Fame when I first got here and even when I left. It’s pretty crazy.”
In 2017 Holmes gave back to Hillsdale and bought new jerseys and helmets for the team’s senior day.
“Coach Otterbein came to me with the idea,” Holmes said. “I know that is such a huge recruiting tool and I know it’s very important for college teams to have those types of things. I know that when I was playing, different teams would have crazy helmets and I always wished I could do the same thing.”