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Former Ohio State athletes inducted into Hall of Fame

Former Ohio State tennis player Bryan Koniecko speaks to the media prior to being inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame at the Ohio Union on Sept. 7, 2018 Credit: Colin Gay | Sports Editor

The Ohio State Athletics inducted 10 members into its Hall of Fame Friday, including former three-time All American linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Laurinaitis is joined by Richard Bruggeman (men’s track), Cassie Dickerson (women’s soccer), Greg Drown (rifle), Linda Haussner (field hockey), Ray Hupp (men’s track), Bryan Koniecko (men’s tennis), Mike Pucillo (wrestling), Jerry Welsh (men’s hockey) and Brandon Wynn (men’s gymnastics). Through 2017, the Hall of Fame has inducted 427 different athletes, coaches and administrators.

Despite his decorated career at Ohio State, as one of eight three-time All Americans in school history and one of three players in the history of the Big Ten conference to win Defensive Player of the Year twice, Laurinaitis was still shocked he was inducted.

“It was extremely humbling when you think about all of the athletes that have been through here,” Laurinaitis said. “You can go through the football guys and just be impressed, but when you think about all of athletics, to be included in that Hall is what humbles me the most.”

Coming back to the Ohio State campus to be honored as the 123rd member of Ohio State football to be inducted, Laurinaitis said he remembers the brotherhood that he built with his teammates, saying that being a former Ohio State football player is something that bonds players from different eras.

For Dickerson, she did not leave Ohio State. After her three years with the Buckeyes from 2008-10, being named as a three-time captain in those years, she came back this season as a volunteer assistant coach and the director of player development.

Dickerson said even though she has continued to build relationships with the athletes, allowing her to relive what she went through in college, it is still strange to be honored for her time as a collegiate player.

“It’s weird because you don’t think about it after a certain amount of time and you don’t really talk about the things you accomplished,” Dickerson said. “It’s more of the fun stories that you and your teammates had or the miserable times you went through together.”

A five-time All American at Ohio State, Koniecko helped lead Ohio State to four regular season conference and tournament titles. Being awarded the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2006, he was a back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year winner in 2008 and 2009.

Koniecko’s time at Ohio State, under head coach Ty Tucker, allowed him to get into collegiate coaching. He was the associate head coach for the Ohio State women’s tennis team from 2012-14 and is currently the head coach at UCF.

Koniecko believes it was a goal of his to be honored at Ohio State, but not because of his own success.

“I guess the first thing I think of is I needed a lot of help from a lot of people for this to happen,” Koniecko said. “I’m just happy that I get to hold the torch for players that are as deserving to be here because we all kind of did it together.”

That same feeling is what drove Laurinaitis at Ohio State. When accepting this award, he said he wants to recognize the people that helped mold him into the player he was.  

“What’s uncomfortable for me is going up there alone. You wish you could bring your whole roster up there with you because a lot of what drove me as a player was the fear of failing the other guys,” Laurinaitis said. “It was the fear of, not only failing them, but I always wanted to be a leader, I always wanted to be a guy that showed the way and do all that. So I was like, gosh, if you make a mistake on film, that’s just going to knock your credibility and that fear drove me.”

The 10 members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class will be honored at halftime of the Ohio State football game against Rutgers on Saturday.

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