Justin Chapman | Echo
Last Wednesday, the Taylor Athletics Department announced that tomorrow three new members will be inducted into its Hall of Fame. This will take place in addition to Taylor's 2017 Homecoming and Family Weekend.
The members in the 2017 Hall of Fame class are Kelsey Pritchard Bawel ('12), Felipe Bedon ('11) and Michael Kraynak ('10). The following Taylor alumni will also be recognized: the Taylor's men's tennis teams from 1965 to 1969, the Taylor men's golf teams of 1976 and 1977 and George Glass, a 1977 TU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee.
According to Kyle Gould, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, there is an external board that votes and decides who enters the Hall of Fame. The board consists of Taylor alumni.
The Taylor coaches nominate players who played exceptionally well during their career, and the process starts from there to determine who makes it. Clearly, athletic performance is a big factor they take into account. However, coaches can be inducted as well.
Taylor alumni may be inducted into the Hall of Fame because of the accomplishments the achieved after Taylor. For instance, if an athlete goes on to compete professionally that will be taken into account. Serving at Taylor in the athletics department may help them be inducted.
Pritchard Bawel racked up three NAIA All-American honors, two MCC Player of the Year honors and two Natalie Steele Awards in her volleyball career at Taylor. She is third all-time in kills for Taylor with 2,310. During her senior season, she added a CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American.
Pritchard Bawel was at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and received a call before one of her meetings. A fellow Taylor volleyball alumni shared the news with her. In the moment she did not fully realize what was just spoken to her. It was not until later that her brain registered she will be in Taylor's Hall of Fame.
"I am extremely honored to be inducted into the Taylor Hall of Fame," said Pritchard Bawel. "There is no way this would be happening without the support of my family, teammates, and coaches. I'm especially thankful for Betsy and Bethany, my graduating class of teammates. Getting to spend four years playing volleyball with them is what allowed me to grow as a player."
Bedon prospered in Taylor's tennis program, as he ended his career with a 129-40 overall record. He played in the top lineup each season and was a four-time All-MCC performer.
Bedon received an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American as a senior along with two MCC No. 1 singles championships.
While Bedon performed well in his years at Taylor, he did not expect to get into the Hall of Fame. In fact, when they called him to let him know he will be inducted, he thought that it was a mistake. Bedon thought they were trying to contact his sister who also played tennis at Taylor.
"She was very, very good," said Bedon. "She was also the number one player at Taylor for the four years that she was there. She definitely has a better record than I did, so that's why I thought, 'It must be her and it must be a mistake'."
Once he knew that it was him, not his sister getting inducted, he was ready to get back on campus. He has heard of new additions such as Larita Boren Campus Center and is excited to see how beautiful campus looks.
Kraynak enjoyed a successful end to his four years playing baseball at Taylor. In his last two years, the team won 38 games each season and made it to the NAIA championship back-to-back.
He was named an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American and left Taylor leading the program in all-time hits (273) and saves (16).
"The most exciting thing for me was just knowing that I'll be connected to such a great university," said Kraynak. "I look back on how much I enjoyed my time there and all the great people that I came into contact with. Really just excited to get to see everybody again, and to come back and reconnect with all the relationships I had back when I played."
According to Kraynak, he didn't think about himself getting into the Taylor Hall of Fame much. Life moves on after college, and he is not thinking about what happened just now seven years ago.
He says many players on his team who played with him are just as deserving. He remembers the relationships more than the individual performances.
Taylor alum Chris Holtmann was supposed to be inducted this year as well, but his schedule seems to be packed right now. In June, Holtmann accepted a job to be the head basketball coach at The Ohio State University.
The special day is tomorrow, when all three will be honored and recognized for the outstanding work they did at Taylor.
"Three great athletes, great students and also just great ambassadors for Taylor who have gone on to obviously be successful in life," said Gould. "Just really proud of all three of them. I think they all represent the very best, not just, like, athletics at Taylor, but just Taylor. It'll be a great day to honor those three."
"Photographs provided by Seth Mikel and Michael Kraynak"