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Laker Nation News

Lake Land College to Hold Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Posted on May 6, 2021

Lake Land College will host a Virtual Commencement Ceremony to honor the accomplishments of the Spring and Summer 2021 Lake Land graduates at 7:30 p.m. on May 14. The event will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on the Lake Land College YouTube page, and will be accessible from the college’s home page. The event will be available to watch at any time after the premiere.

In addition to the virtual commencement ceremony, the college will host a Graduate Parade on campus May 14  at 3 p.m. Faculty and staff will line the circle drive of campus and graduates are encouraged to decorate their vehicles. Graduates are welcome to bring family members to drive in the car with them, but attendance will be limited to one car per graduate. Spectators will be limited to Lake Land College employees.

Along the route, graduates will stop in front of the Luther Student Center, where Lake Land College President Josh Bullock will present the graduate a diploma cover. Families will then be welcome to park in LOT F and take photos on campus grounds.

The virtual ceremony will include aspects of a traditional commencement ceremony, such as speakers, presentation of awards and the reading of graduates’ names.

“These students have overcome many challenges and persevered through difficult times to reach this moment,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said. “On behalf of the Lake Land family, I am proud to say we are thrilled to celebrate the achievements of the Laker Nation Class of 2021.”

The college will also honor award recipients in the ceremony, including the Distinguished Service Award, Illinois Community College Trustees Association Outstanding Faculty Member Award and the Alumnus Achievement Award.

The Lake Land College Board of Trustees named Sheri Barnett, Effingham, as the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award. Barnett is an advanced nurse practitioner at Prairie Heart Institute in Effingham and a long-time supporter of the college’s EMS program.

“Dr. Barnett continually challenges EMS professionals to think beyond the textbook and deepen their knowledge even after they graduate,” Emergency Services Program Coordinator Jasmine Ballard said. “She also encourages students to think outside the box during skills classes and to never stop practicing because EMS is an ever-changing and growing profession.”

The Illinois Community College Trustees Association Outstanding Faculty Member Award recipient is Philosophy/English Instructor Tara Blaser. Blaser is an advocate for coursework accessibility and has woven community service projects into her ethics classes to broaden student experiences.

The Lake Land College Board of Trustees honored Bernard “Hank” Habing, Effingham, with the Alumnus Achievement Award. Habing, Laker Nation Class of 1992, is a family nurse practitioner at Effingham Urology Associates and Mid-Illinois Medical Care Associates/Runde Clinic in Teutopolis.

“I have seen firsthand the compassion, professionalism, and dedication Hank shows to his patients,” Thomas Finlay, Teutopolis, said of his experience as Habing’s patient. “When you are one of Hank’s patients, it seems like you are the most important patient he has. Hank treats each of his patients with this same caring attitude. He is a blessing to his community, the clinics, and profession, but more importantly to the many patients he sees every day.”

For more information about the Spring 2021 Virtual Commencement, visit lakelandcollege.edu/admissions/graduation.


CEFS and WIOA Programs Provide Youth Education Opportunities

Posted on May 4, 2021

C.E.F.S Economic Opportunity Corporation Youth Program is designed to help teens and young adults develop a career path or find employment through training and job search assistance.

The services are available to young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who meet eligibility requirements and need assistance in paying for college, finding a job, earning a GED, paying for transportation, paying for childcare or many other areas of need.

C.E.F.S Economic Opportunity Corporation Youth Program offers paid college tuition, books, and fees, paid work experience, GED and tutoring, leadership skills, career guidance, financial literacy training, mentoring, resume development and supportive services such as required tools, uniforms, transportation, childcare and more.

C.E.F.S Economic Opportunity Corporation is a partner of American Job Centers, Illinois WorkNet Centers and also works in partnership with Lake Land College.

The WIOA Youth Services program offers many areas of assistance as well, including access to job fairs and recruitment opportunities, part-time and full-time jobs, paid work experience, resume assistance, on-the-job training, vocational training programs, assistance with obtaining high school diploma/GED, supportive services such as transportation, child care, uniforms and tools and learning career development skills.

Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities at Illinois workNet Centers, and funding is provided in whole or in part by the Department of Commerce.

Counseling services are also available including career and college advice, tutoring, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) assistance and referral to other community services.

With centers in Effingham, Centralia, Mattoon, Robinson and Vandalia, the programs have career planners available to assist with education, career and future planning.

For more information, or to check eligibility, visit cefseoc.org or contact C.E.F.S. at 217-279-0371 or cefs@cefseoc.org.


Lake Land College Communications Programs See Changes

Posted on May 3, 2021

The newly updated speech and radio/TV programs are now housed together under a new Communication Studies department, designed to facilitate students’ pathways to success in this in-demand career field.

“I have discovered so many different job opportunities people have because of a Communication Studies degree,” Salisa Hortenstine Olmsted, division chair Humanities & Communications/Communication Studies/English instructor, said. “This is why we want to focus our courses now on COM, so students can recognize this and say ‘Wow, I can do a lot with that major’.”

All speech classes and radio/TV broadcasting classes are now indicated with a prefix of “COM” versus the previous “SPE” and “RTV” prefixes respectively.

Communication Studies Instructor Eva Ritchey said one advantage of the new prefix is that it will decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings about content and majors. Under the divided prefixes, she said some students misinterpreted the content of a course or what someone was studying based on the designation of the courses the student was taking.

“I think the communication prefix is going to be so helpful,” Ritchey said. “It really encompasses what we teach and will hopefully eliminate some confusion.”

Another lasting benefit of making the shift to the new prefix is the adaptation to a more modern understanding of the Communication field of study.

“Communication study has never been more important in our world,” Communication Studies Instructor Ed Thomas said. “As devices occupy more and more space in our lives, people are messaging more than ever. Communication study helps give messages context, and allows us to see how those messages and devices affect humanity.”

With communication being an important factor in many career fields, Communication Studies gives students opportunities to succeed in several areas. Social media, television, writing and many other career areas rely on strong communication skills to accomplish tasks and goals.

“The change puts us on a more even playing field with other institutions,” Speech Communication Studies/Broadcasting Instructor Greg Powers said. “The opportunities students have in Communications and Humanities here at Lake Land College are second to none when it comes to community colleges and even many four-year institutions.”

To learn more about communications opportunities at Lake Land College, visit lakelandcollege.edu/guided-pathways and explore Humanities and Social Science.

Lake Land College Agriculture Students Honored In Virtual Ceremony

Posted on April 30, 2021

The Lake Land College Agriculture division hosted the Virtual 50th Annual Student Recognition Ceremony in April to recognize several students with awards and honors.

“A milestone like 50 certainly brings a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for our history and tradition of excellence,” Division Chair Agriculture/Agriculture Instructor Ryan Orrick said. “I am appreciative of all the past faculty members and students who have helped craft the Lake Land Agriculture Division into what it is today, and I would like to thank all of our current staff and Agriculture students for representing this great tradition.”

Orrick as well as several agriculture students offered congratulations and gratitude to agriculture students who were involved in campus activities, military service and who earned state and national awards.

For the 2020-21 school year, 23 agriculture students have held or currently hold FFA section office. Sixty students achieved state FFA degrees and 12 students achieved state proficiency.

Two students were national proficiency winners: Makenna Green, Arthur, in grain production and Tara Hummel, Cabery, in small animal production.

Three students were also state star winners including Green as Illinois State Star Farmer, Hummel as Illinois Star Placement and Tanner Mickey, Taylorville, as 2020 Illinois State Star Farmer.

Ten students achieved the American FFA Degree, one of highest honors student can achieve in an FFA career.

The Agriculture Division High GPA awards went to Christine Hoene, Sigel, for Horticulture; Jared Phillips, Lebanon, for John Deere Tech; Cole Dial, Louisville, for John Deere Tech; Drew Guebert, Moweaqua, for Agriculture Business; Nicholas Knowles, Marshall, for Agriculture Power; Katelynn Gingerich, Sullivan, for Agriculture Production and Green for Agriculture Transfer.

The Agriculture Division Outstanding Student awards went to Alexandra Johnston, Kansas, for Horticulture; Dial for John Deere Tech; Mallory Burgener, Shelbyville, for Agriculture Business; Sejin Ko Iksan-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea, for Agriculture Power; Alex Probst, Wheeler, for Agriculture Production and Emmalyn Walk, Neoga, for Agriculture Transfer.

The 2020-2021 Lake Land College Agriculture Division Overall Outstanding Student award was presented to Hannah Tappendorf, Altamont.

The Agriculture Division Honored Alumnus award was presented to Shaun Casteel, a 1999 graduate of the Lake Land College Agriculture Transfer program. Casteel went on to earn a doctorate in soil science and is now employed at Purdue University as the extension’s Soy Bean and Small Grain Specialist.

The 2021 John Deere Tech graduates are Patrick Bell, Brocton; Wyatt Brownlee, Gibson City; Mark Corrigan, Pontiac; Cole Dial, Louisville; Eli Ennis, Charleston; Andrew Hagen, Aviston; Steven Holder, Raymond; Austin Huffman, Roachdale, IN; Clint Krug, Wingate, IN; Austin Laffoon, Wingate, IN; Zachary Lott, Jerseyville; Ian Lowry, Sadorus; Brady Moore, Hoopston; Jared Phillips, Lebanon; Max Pickel, Roachdale, IN; Skylar Rhoads, Mattoon; Ethan Stultz, Darlington, IN; Kaden Swanberg, Pontiac and Shane Young, Waynetown, IN.

The 2021 Horticulture graduates include Faith Camfield, Decatur; Dalton Denton, Saint Elmo, Mackinzie Fouty, Casey; Christine Hoene, Sigel; Alexandra Johnston, Kansas and Maxwell Neal, Williamsville.

The 2021 Agriculture Business graduates are Brooklyn Baugher, Shelbyville; Mallory Burgener, Moweaqua; Mason Campbell, Windsor; Bailey Cox, Charleston; Erin Forlines, Drew Guebert, Moweaqua; Assumption; Madeleine Hanson, Danforth; Dalton Lawless, Piper City; Chaney Niehart, Pana; Dawson Phillips, Newton; Trenton Pinnell, Kansas; Austin Sloan, Shelbyville; Jeffery Stoldt, Shumway and Faith Williams, Bingham.

The 2021 Agriculture Power Technology graduates include Nicholas Knowles, Marshall; Sejin Ko Iksan-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea and Marcus Neal, Jerseyville.

The 2021 Agriculture Production & Management graduates are Rhett Banman, Charleston; Layla Bennett, Linden, IN; Tucker Cripe, Shelbyville; Katelynn Gingerich, Sullivan, Jacob Lauffenburger, El Paso; Alex Probst, Wheeler; Nicholas Tarr, Newton and Garrett Tippit, Findlay.

The 2021 Agriculture Transfer graduates include Elizabeth Applegate, Casey; Beau Bennett, Windsor; Riley Bridgman, Neoga; Nathaniel Brookshire-Thompson, Woodland, CA; Nolan Burdett, Charleston; Brady Chaves, Effingham; Zachary Cline, Allenton, MI; Jessi Dust, Charleston; Alexis Elder, Sullivan; Makenna Green, Arthur; Ashtin Guyer, Flat Rock; Jarrett Hardiek, Teutopolis; Aaron Harrell, Charleston; Meliah Hennings, Lakewood; Macey Heselton, Herrick; Tara Hummel, Cabery; Cody Knodle, Fillmore; Hailey Lucht, Milford; Chayse Martin, Paris; Jacob Mayes, Greenup; Julianna Meier, Saunemin, IL; Emma Metzger, Charleston; Nicholas Mitchell, Kansas; Cassie Peters, Crescent City; Kaylee Phillips, Effingham; Daniel Reedy, Lovington; Dane Robertson, Monrovia, IN; Jaycie Schertz, El Paso; Sawyer Schlipf, El Paso; Katherine Smith, Marion; Hannah Tappendorf, Altamont; Royce Thompson, Herrick; Montana Tonn, Edgewood; Brianna Ulmer, Greenville; Dalaney Vickrey, Warren, IN; Jessica Voyles, Sullivan; Emmalyn Walk, Neoga and Travis Wilke, Olney.

To learn more about the Lake Land College Agriculture Division, visit lakelandcollege.edu/guided-pathways and explore the Agriculture area.

Lake Land College Names Outstanding Honor Students

Posted on April 28, 2021

Lake Land College named PTK Treasurer Rachel Buening, Effingham, and PTK Secretary Macy Vogt, Teutopolis, as 2020-2021 Outstanding Honors Students. Both recipients were honored at the virtual Student Recognition Banquet April 28.

Rachel Buening
Macy Vogt

As well as being active in Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society (PTK), both students were Presidential Scholars and achieved full status honors via the Honors Program courses. PTK, the Honors Program and Presidential Scholars are the three components included in the Lake Land College Honors Experience.

Buening is majoring in elementary education and will be transferring to Eastern Illinois University in the fall. She said her goal as an educator is to make a difference in all of her students’ lives.

“I was lucky enough to have so many teachers that were very influential and kind to me,” Buening said. “I would love to do the very same for other students in the future as all we need sometimes in life is for someone to have a little faith in us.”

Buening’s hard work and dedication also caught the attention of her instructors.

“Rachel has an inquisitive nature and a drive to jump into topics and critically think,” Psychology Instructor Lara Bacino-Althaus said. “She had excellent questions and comments in class.”

Sociology Instructor Katie Parrish echoed Bacino-Althaus’ sentiments, saying Buening was an excellent student who participated well in the class.

“She never hesitated to reach out to me anytime she had a question or wanted additional help,” Parrish said. “Additionally, she went above and beyond for the honors project about the Underground Railroad Museum.”

Buening likewise spoke highly of the honors faculty members, saying the best part of the honors courses was the faculty who taught them.

“The faculty members were all very dedicated to their work and had coursework and setups that were engaging and concise,” Buening said. “I truly feel that the faculty in the honors program are what makes it so amazing!”

Because of her participation in the honors program, Buening said she was able to test and strengthen her skills by collaborating with other honors students.

“I really enjoyed the extra challenge and discussion that was incorporated into the honors program as it pushed me to work even harder in my honors classes,” Buening said. “I definitely feel that participating in the honors program helped me to become a better student by giving me the opportunity to collaborate with other students and have more one-on-one communications with my professors.”

Vogt will also be transferring to Eastern Illinois University in the fall to major in exercise science. She said she plans to continue her education after earning a bachelor’s degree, and she hopes to use creative and effective treatment plans in her career to help her future patients gain full recovery, independence and strength to perform everyday activities.

Vogt offered her gratitude to several honors faculty members, complimenting in instructors’ passion and effort for the students.

“The honors faculty at LLC are key to making the program so special,” Vogt said. “The instructors are passionate about what they teach, and they make an effort to ensure that students understand the material. I had the pleasure of learning from Lara Bacino-Althaus, Ed Thomas, Katie Lotz and Katie Parrish. My advisor Krista Burrell has always provided advice and opportunities that allowed me to grow as a person.”

Instructors reciprocated Vogt’s sentiments, many complimenting her excellence and effort.

“Macy excelled in my classes and has shown that she puts forth a great effort in her academic and course work,” Parrish said.

Economics Instructor Katie Lotz praised Vogt’s dedication and progress in her classwork and development.

“Macy was such a dedicated student and I saw tremendous growth in her throughout the time she was in my class,” Lotz said. “I cannot say enough nice things about her.  She was fantastic.”

Communication Studies Instructor Ed Thomas also complimented Vogt’s merit in class.

“Macy is an exceptional student,” Thomas said. “She was always professional and completed the coursework with excellence.”

The Honors Experience at Lake Land College has been so influential in my community college experience,” Vogt said. “The best connections I’ve made with other students and faculty have been a direct result of getting involved in the honors program.”


Posted on April 25, 2021

The Lake Land Lakers Women’s Basketball Team won the NJCAA Division 2 National Championship, defeating Johnson County Cavaliers 53-49 in the Saturday evening game.


The college community will welcome the team home today, Sunday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. on campus in Mattoon, Illinois. The team is making the long trip home from Hickory, North Carolina and is estimated to arrive at 6:30 p.m.


Those who would like to help the college welcome the national champions back home are welcome to complete the COVID protocols, including completing the campus visitor screening form, wearing a mask and social distancing.


Please use entrance 2 and gather in Parking Lot A outside the Field House. Please be prepared for possible delays in arrival due to the length of the trip home. Updates to travel times will be posted on the college’s social media sites.


Everyone is encouraged to wear red and black school colors to cheer on the champions!  Go Lakers!


Lake Land College Medical Assistant Program Receives Accreditation

Posted on April 21, 2021

The medical assistant program at Lake Land College received accreditation status from the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in March upon the recommendation of Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

“I am very pleased that our medical assistant program was the first in the region to achieve being fully accredited through CAAHEP,” Medical Assistant Program Director/Instructor Molly Yeske said. “I am happy that we are able to provide quality education in a very rapidly growing career.”

The Lake Land medical assistant program trains students in both administrative and clinical roles. In these positions, duties may include patient care, phlebotomy, injections and assistance with minor office procedures, scheduling and billing. The goals of the program are to prepare competent entry level medical assistants in the knowledge, skills and behavior learning domains.

“The accreditation process evaluates multiple categories of the program or institution including curriculum standards, courses and goals, adequate facilities and equipment for training as well as several other aspects,” Yeske said. “By attending an accredited program, you can be sure that you are making a good investment financially and that you can trust the education you are receiving.”

Students who complete the program go on to take the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Graduates of the medical assistant program at Lake Land have a 100% pass rate of passing the certification exam on the first try and are often highly sought after locally.

The medical assistant program is available as a two-year associate in applied science degree or one-year certificate program at Lake Land. The program is a special admission program requiring applicants to meet a specific list of criteria to qualify for admission.

In addition to the traditional classroom program offering, the program is also offered in a hybrid format, meaning all classes are offered online with two evening labs each week.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assistant field is expected to grow by 23% through 2024, much more rapidly than the average occupation, and Medical Assistants earn an average salary of $35,720 or an average hourly wage of $17.17. The average wage for a Medical Assistant can vary depending on the industry in which they decide to practice.

For more information on the medical assistant program at Lake Land College, visit lakelandcollege.edu/high-demand-programs/medical-assistant/ or contact Molly Yeske at myeske@lakelandcollege.edu or 217-234-5055.

Lake Land College Honors Employees in Virtual Ceremony

Posted on April 20, 2021

Lake Land College celebrated a virtual Employee Recognition, Wall of Fame Induction and Shine Award Ceremony in March. Lake Land College is pleased to honor the many retirees and award recipients recognized at the event.

The 2021 Lake Land College retirees include Psychology Instructor Terri Fields, Groundskeeper Don Hardwick, Human Services Instructor/Coordinator Helen Hendren, Mathematics Instructor Walter McHenry, Director Tutoring and Testing Center Karla Miller and Cosmetology Instructor/Director of Cosmetology Peggy Strange.

Lake Land College is pleased to induct three new members into the Retiree Wall of Fame. The 2021 Honorees are Joyce Allen, Ken Beno and Pam Crisman.

Acting Dean of Instructional Services and Psychology Instructor Joyce Allen helped transition to the current campus, having a lasting impact on student learning as one of the first to implement and advocate for learning objectives. She was the first Lake Land College psychology instructor and was one of the few original female faculty members.

WLKL Station Manager and Radio TV Broadcasting Instructor and Division Chair of Humanities Ken Beno created outstanding opportunities to students through the Radio/TV Department and WLKL. He also led the de  velopment of the college’s leading edge distance learning program that expanded opportunities for residents to attended classes throughout the district.

Vice President for Development, Director of Public Relations and Consultant Pam Crisman led the public relations and development office for nearly 30 years, serving three presidents during her tenure. Under her leadership, the Foundation received its largest gift, which provided funding for the new Foundation and Alumni Center.

The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Academic Counselor Jennifer Melton.

The 2021 ICCTA Outstanding Full-time Faculty Member Award was presented to Philosophy and English Instructor Tara Blaser.

The 2021 Shine Award recipient was Director of Workforce Investment Jamie Corda Hadjaoui. Hadjaoui’s nominator said her “caring is unparalleled, especially when dealing with students. Students are always a priority in her actions.”

Individuals nominated for the Shine Award include Central Receiving and Mailroom Assistant Autumn Bustillos, Mailroom Assistant Patrick Taylor, Admissions Representative Pam Hartke, Division Chair of Business and Business Instructor Tynia Kessler, Academic Scheduling Coordinator Braddi Browning, Manager of Bookstore and Textbook Rentals Amanda Arena, Nursing Instructor Cassi Porter, Allied Health Specialist Hilary Donley and Student Services Specialist III Gavin Shawver.

Three groups also received Shine Award nominations including the Lake Land College Police Department: Jeff Branson, Chad Smith, John Hampton, Darren Feldkamp and Evan Dodson; the Commencement Team: Kelly Allee, Tina Stovall, Michelle Zumbahlen, Autumn Bustillos, Dave Earp, Becky Earp, Amanda Arena, Faith Donaldson, Tanishia Fulk, Pam Hartke, Oliva Koester, Amanda Tucker and Jane Plummer; and the ISS Team: Tony Sharp, Jay Westendorf and Nate Westendorf.

Lake Land College is proud to award these honors to the deserving individuals who have dedicated their time and effort to support the vision and values of the college and create opportunities for students to succeed.

New Lake Land College Student Trustee Elected

Posted on April 16, 2021

Lake Land College students elected engineering major Katherine “Katie” Greuel, Windsor, to serve as the student trustee for 2021-2022. In this role, Greuel will serve as a liaison between the student body and the Lake Land College Board of Trustees. She will also have the ability to make and second motions and will have an advisory vote on the board.

“I am very excited to be given this opportunity,” Greuel said. “I want to represent and speak for the students as best as I can.”

Student Trustee Katie Greuel

Greuel was officially seated at the April 12 Lake Land College Board of Trustees regular meeting, taking over the role from Lucas Duduit, Pana. Duduit will be transferring to Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois in May 2021.

At his final Lake Land Board of Trustees meeting as student trustee, Duduit expressed gratitude to the trustees, President Josh Bullock and the members of the cabinet for his time and experiences as student trustee.

Greuel said she plans to continue to support students’ access to mental health resources, as this was one of Duduit’s strongest areas of focus. Greuel also said she would like to advocate for more exploratory opportunities in some programs.

Photo of Student Trustee Katie Greuel and former Student Trustee Lucas Duduit
Student Trustee Katie Greuel and former Student Trustee Lucas Duduit

Having spent three years in the Navy after graduating from high school, Greuel was training to be nuclear machinist mate when a training injury led her down a different path.

“To be honest, I was absolutely petrified to transfer back to civilian life after being in the Navy for so long,” Greuel said. “All the staff and students at Lake Land have been very helpful, very comforting and have made it very easy for me to adapt.”

During her time in the Navy, Greuel took on a leadership position. As a Leading Petty Officer, Greuel oversaw 100 to 700 sailors at a time, acting as a liaison between the sailors and the Upper Level Enlisted.

“I gained a lot of important life skills and leadership skills,” Greuel said. “I made a lot of good contacts, mentors and friends, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Greuel said she believes this leadership role was a good precursor to her time as student trustee, as it gave her experience liaising for a large group.

“I took questions, comments and concerns,” Greuel said. “I always tried to help the sailors any way I could. I think the student trustee position will be a similar in that I will be speaking for and communicating with hundreds of students and communicating their questions and concerns to the people who can best address them.”

English Instructor Matt Landrus suggested Greuel run for student trustee, leading her to ultimately run for and earn the position.

“Katie is a hard-working, responsible, intelligent, community-oriented person with great problem-solving skills,” Landrus said. “Anyone who interacts with her will immediately be impressed by her affable and approachable demeanor. I was confident that if she chose to run for the position, the college and her peers would benefit from her insight and stick-to-itiveness.”

Greuel said if Landrus had not suggested she run, she may have never given the opportunity a second thought.

“It means a lot to me that he thought I would do well in this role,” Greuel said of Landrus’ suggestion. “I’m really glad there are staff like him here at Lake Land who care so much about the students, not only in how they perform but in their wellbeing and personal life as well.”

Lake Land College Women’s Basketball Team seeded No. 2 in national tournament

Posted on April 15, 2021

The Lake Land College Women’s Basketball Team earned the No. 2 seed at the 2021 NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship. The Lady Lakers will begin the tournament facing off against the No. 15 seeded Lackawanna College Falcons.

“I’m excited and I’m sure the team is,” sophomore player Tresoir Newson said. “We’ve been working hard all year.”

Pictured are the members of the Lake Land College Women’s Basketball Team: Olivia Niemerg, Shania Schoonover, Tresoir Newson, Kamaria Gant, Josie Orris, Harley Barry, Avery Still, Abigayle Weis, Joanna Schultz, Mikayla Sirjord, Jaelynn Riggleman, Karrington Krabel and Elizabeth Buescher.

Ranked third in the nation behind Johnson County and Kirkwood, the Lady Lakers’ record is 21-2 with a 12-game win streak leading up to the national championship.

Head Coach Dave Johnson said the team has consistently played at a high level, having won against six nationally ranked teams this year.

“I think it’s a reflection of the hard work our players have put in this year,” Johnson said. “We’re just super excited, and I’m really proud of how these young ladies have played this year.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to the team’s practicing and games, several of the team’s players agreed that overcoming those challenges helped them achieve the high ranking.

“It’s more of a challenge having to practice with masks and have weekly testing,” Newson said. “It’s harder, but pushing through it makes us appreciate it more because we fought for it.”

The No. 2 seed is the highest in the program’s history, surpassing even the No. 4 seed the Lady Lakers earned at last year’s cancelled tournament.

The Lake Land College Women’s Basketball Team reacts to the No. 2 seed reveal.

Sophomore player Harley Barry said she was excited that the team received the No. 2 seed after making it to No. 4 last year, and she is looking forward to participating in the tournament.

“Coming back with all of the sophomores that we had that were freshmen from last year, it was such a good motivation for us because we had everything taken away so suddenly last year,” Barry said. “I feel like it pushed us to do what we did this season and be where we are now.”

Assistant Coach J. R. Hodges said the strong leadership from the sophomores who were unable to compete in the cancelled tournament last year has pushed the team to work even harder to earn the their ranking this year.

“The No. 2 seed is a massive improvement from the fourth seed last year and we’re just happy to be there,” Hodges said. “The girls have worked really hard this year, and we’re so proud of them.”

Both Newson and Barry commented on the bond the team developed and how the team’s closeness has contributed to its success.

“I feel like this year our chemistry is really good. Even in practice we’re laughing,” Newson said. “We definitely have fun, and we’ve got a pretty talented group.”

Barry said though this year’s season looked a little different, the team was still able to build strong connections and unite really well.

“From being a part of this team we have just created so many new friendships,” Barry said. “Lake Land has been so fun this year, especially now that we have all gotten to the point where we’re like a family and we know each other really well.”

The members of the Lake Land College Women’s Basketball Team include freshmen Karrington Krabel, Paris; Olivia Niemerg, Teutopolis and Avery Still, Sullivan and sophomores Joanna Schultz, Altamont; Harley Barry, Shiloh; Kamaria Gant, Bloomington; Tresoir Newson, Normal West; Abigayle Weis, Effingham; Jaelynn Riggleman, Casey-Westfield; Shania Schoonover, Pana; Josie Orris, Sullivan; Elizabeth Buescher, Charleston and Mikayla Sirjord, Ulen-Hitterdal, MN.

The 2021 NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship tournament will take place April 20 through 24 at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, North Carolina.

For the latest Laker Athletics information and updates, follow @LLCAthletics on Facebook and Twitter.