2016 Distinguished Alumni

Every year, the NSU Alumni Association honors noteworthy alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award and Kretchman Coaching Award, and inducts former Wolves athletes into the NSU Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Alumni

Sandra Coleman, now a retired judge, began her lifelong mission helping the disadvantaged at NSU. She earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology with a minor in criminology in 1978, magna cum laude. During her time at Northern, she was involved with many campus and community activities and volunteer outreach. She co-founded the first resource center for women in Aberdeen that focused on counseling, job skills, and providing a safe shelter for abused women. She also co-founded the Non-Traditional Student organization on campus for older and/or married students. As a student, Coleman originated a juvenile diversion program with the city police of Aberdeen and Northern students that provided mentors to area youth to divert them out of the criminal justice system. 


After graduating from law school, Coleman began her legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice in the prestigious U.S. Attorney General’s Honors Graduate Program. She spent the majority of her professional career in the United States Justice Department, first as a trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division, then as a high-level government executive in USDOJ.  Subsequently, she served as a White House attorney/advisor to former President Clinton. In 1997, she was appointed as a federal immigration judge.


After retiring from the bench, the Seneca native is still heavily involved in politics and advocacy in Florida. She has studied art with renowned artists all over the world and adds an award-winning artist to her long list of personal and career accomplishments. She lives in South Florida with her husband, Paul Hancock, an attorney with the international law firm of K&L Gates LLP. They have one daughter and a granddaughter.


Kretchman Coaching Award

Bill Fritz earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1960 with a minor in biology. The honor will be given posthumously, as Fritz passed away on May 28, 2015.

Fritz retired from Rowan University in New Jersey in June 2014 after coaching for 43 years. Fritz had been the men’s cross country head coach there since 1971. He also guided the women’s program from 1986 to 2006. Under Fritz, the men’s team won 19 New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships. The men qualified for the national championship 19 times.


In 1994, Fritz took over as head coach for the track and field programs. The men’s team won four consecutive NJAC Championships (1994-97) and finished tied for eighth at the 1997 NCAA Championships. The men claimed 23 NJAC titles. For men’s track and field, Fritz guided 43 Division III outdoor champions and 10 Division III indoor champions. Four women won national titles. Fritz has coached more than 265 All-Americans, including men and women, indoor and outdoor.


2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

Eddie Clark earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from NSU in 1989. As a student at NSU, Clark wrestled from 1984 to 1988. He recorded over 100 career wins, was an NSIC Champion, a four-year letterman and a four-year starter at 134 pounds. He was also an NAIA All-American at 134 pounds and received the Clark Swisher Outstanding Male Athlete Award in 1988. He is a physical education teacher and head wrestling coach at Star Valley High School in Afton, Wyo. Eddie has coached seven state championship teams and has also been named State Coach of the Year seven times. He was the 2003 Region 7 National Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year and the 2011 NHSACA National Wrestling Coach of the Year. His career dual record is 362-59-1. He resides in Afton, Wyo., with his wife, Kristi, and two sons, Trevor and Trent.


Jeff “Milo” Wepking earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Industrial Arts with Physical Education in 1976. As a student at NSU, Wepking played basketball for four years and accumulated 1,261 points and 1,076 rebounds individually. In 1994, Wepking was inducted into the South Dakota Amateur Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was inducted into the Sioux Falls Washington High School Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, Wepking was chosen as the Region 7 Assistant High School Basketball Coach of the Year while coaching in Avon. Wepking was awarded the South Dakota State Technology Program of the Year in 2013 and 2015. Wepking retired in June 2015 after 39 years of teaching and 30 plus years of coaching. He resides in Avon, S.D., with his wife, Monica. They have three children: Jonathan, Jennifer and Nikki.


Lori (Burkhardt) Hartman earned a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Business in 1981. At Northern, Hartman participated in basketball, softball, intramural volleyball and track. In basketball, Hartman recorded 1,434 points, 772 rebounds and was a 76 percent free-throw shooter. Her single season school records in 1980-81 included: most points (543), most field goals (234) and most free throws (75). Hartman was the career leading scorer upon graduation. In 1981, Hartman was all-tournament first team at the NAIA Women’s National Basketball Tournament; “Exponent” Player of the Year (1980-1981); and American Women’s Sports Foundation Division II honorable mention All-American. After graduation, Hartman was a member of state championship women’s softball teams, superintendent of recreation in Yankton, and a certified day care instructor. She retired in 2010 and resides in Hortonville, Wis., with her husband, Bill. They have three children: Tim, Kara and Brett; and three grandchildren: Sully, Mira and Liesel.


Memory Johannsen, a Tolstoy, S.D., native, graduated Magna Cum Laude from NSU in 2001, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in athletic training. Johannsen is one of 12 women’s basketball players to record over 1,300 points and over 600 rebounds. She is among the leaders in career assists, with 400. She was named to the NSIC All-Conference team her senior year. Johannsen received a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Des Moines University in 2003. In 2012, “The Date Book” awarded her Best Physical Therapist in the Des Moines Area. In 2014, Johannsen started her own clinic, Maximum Physical Therapy, in Adel, Iowa. Johannsen has run marathons in Des Moines and San Francisco and participated in Waukee Crossfit Gym competitions. She lives in Clive, Iowa, with her children: Samantha, 10, and Tate, 8. Her favorite activity is coaching and watching them play sports.