Three individuals will be inducted into the Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 22. Jean Gelner ’61 Blievernicht, Chuck Kriston ’63 and Sara Strickland ’12 Musashe comprise the 23rd class in Hall of Fame history.
A standout on the tennis courts, Blievernicht competed prior to the formalization of women’s intercollegiate athletics programs. She represented Valpo at the National Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Championships in St. Louis in 1959, 1960 and 1961, reaching the semifinals of the doubles championships all three years and the semifinals of the singles draw as a senior in 1961.
Blievernicht also competed in open tournaments during her collegiate years and beyond, highlighted by an appearance in the quarterfinals of the 1960 Cincinnati Masters — then the second-largest summer tennis event in the United States. Her skills translated to the badminton court as well, where she won the 1960 Midwest Collegiate Badminton Tournament. Blievernicht went on to a long-time high school officiating career in Michigan, where she officiated state finals in volleyball and lacrosse and was inducted as an inaugural member of the US Lacrosse Michigan Chapter Hall of Fame.
Kriston was a tremendous scorer on the hardwood for the Valpo men’s basketball program in the early 1960s. He closed his time at Valpo as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,287 career points — a mark that still ranks 18th in program history — and currently sits second all-time among Valpo players with an average of 18.9 points/game. Kriston is also tied for Valpo’s career record for free throw percentage (86.5%) and holds two of Valpo’s top-nine single-season marks for free throw percentage.
Kriston averaged 21.2 points/game as a senior and was named a First Team All-ICC honoree after earning Second Team honors each of his first two seasons. His scoring average was the program’s single-season record at that point and still ranks sixth all-time at Valpo. As a junior in 1961–1962, Kriston helped lead Valpo to a 17-win campaign and a pair of wins in the NCAA Tournament as the Brown and Gold advanced to the NCAA National Quarterfinals. Following his Valpo career, Kriston was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1963 NBA Draft.
Musashe was at the forefront as the Valpo softball program rose to new heights during her career. She was a three-time First Team All-Horizon League selection and was tabbed the league’s Newcomer of the Year as a rookie in 2009. Musashe twice was named an NFCA Second Team All-Region honoree and earned a spot on the Horizon League All-Tournament Team in each of her final two seasons. She was a part of 136 victories over the course of her four years in the Brown and Gold and was a senior in 2012 as Valpo won a school-record 42 games, captured Horizon League regular season and tournament titles and made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Musashe’s name is all over the program’s record book as well. She holds Valpo career records for hits (247), runs scored (171 — 38 more than second place) and doubles (60 — 15 more than second place), and ranks second in program history in career stolen bases (79), total bases (361), batting average (.357) and walks (98) — the latter two marks topping the record book at the completion of her career. She appears a total of 24 times on Valpo’s single-season top-10 charts, most notably holding the program’s single-season mark for runs scored (46, 2009). Musashe set then-school records for single-season hits (69) and total bases (102) in 2010, and currently holds three of the top-10 single-season batting average marks and four of the top-eight doubles totals.
The Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Brown and Gold Room at the Harre Union. The banquet is slated to begin at 4 p.m., with registration starting at 3:30 p.m. The cost of the banquet is $30 per person, and reservations can be made by contacting Sharon Jackson at 219.464.5471 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for making reservations is Friday, Feb. 14. The inductees will also be recognized at halftime of the men’s basketball game that evening.