Current Big Ten student-athletes and coaches making an impact.
When looking back at the milestone achievements of African-Americans in Big Ten athletics, another celebration of Black History Month continues on the court, on the field, on the diamond and in the classrooms across the Big Ten universities. Take a look at some of the current Big Ten student-athletes or coaches whose everyday contributions to forwarding the conference mission also continue to build a rich tradition of black history in Big Ten athletics.
Camile & Carlene Robinson Illinois Women's Track & Field
When Camile Robinson passes the baton to the Illini closer in the 4 x 400 relay, she knows the race's last stretch is in good hands -- and even faster legs. They belong to her twin sister, Carlene, and the pair of Illini seniors has been rewriting Illinois track and field history since they first arrived in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., in 2004. As a freshman, Carlene set the school record in the 800-meter run and earned All-America honors in the event. Camile secured All-America status at the 2006 Outdoor NCAA Championships in the 400-meter hurdles after she and her sister placed first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten Championships.
Felisha Legette-Jack Indiana Women's Basketball
With her arrival in Bloomington, Ind., at the start of the 2006-07 season, Legette-Jack became the first black female head basketball coach in program history and the first in the Big Ten since 2001. The Syracuse, N.Y., native has coached two USA Basketball gold medal-winning teams. In her first year at the helm of the Hoosiers, Legette-Jack led the squad to an 11-3 record in Assembly Hall.
Diane Nukuri Iowa Cross Country
The Hawkeye transfer was dubbed the Midwest Regional Athlete of the Year after running a school-record 6K time at the Midwest regional race, crossing the finish line in 20:34. Nukuri's strong performance led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Championships, ending a 14 year drought for the women's cross country team. A junior, Nukuri secured All-America status in the national meet with an eighth-place finish.
A first-team All-American and Wolverine senior co-captain, Woodley dominated the line of scrimmage as he commanded the best rushing defense in the nation. The Saginaw, Mich. native became the Michigan's first-ever Lombardi Award-winner as the nation's top lineman in a tradition-laden football program. After leading the conference with 12 sacks in 2006, Woodley added Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year to his long list of accolades.
Rochelle Robinson Michigan State Gymnastics
A freshman, Robinson did not waste any time leaving her mark on Michigan State gymnastics. Twice named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week in 2007, Robinson led the Spartans to their first team title since 2003 with a three-title showing at the State of Michigan Classic in February. The following week, she nailed a perfect vault performance that scored her the first-ever 10.0 mark in program history.
Ibrahim Kabia Minnesota Track and Field
A Brooklyn Center, Minn., native, Kabia is setting himself up for a record-breaking career as a Gopher. The sophomore broke the Minnesota record with a 60-meter dash time of 6.66 seconds earlier in the season. The mark will send Kabia to the NCAA Championships and is the sixth-fastest performance in the country this year. He scored bronze-medal honors in the event at the 2007 Big Ten Indoor Championships, helping the Gophers to a second place team finish.
Caleb Fields Northwestern Baseball
Fields' play in 2006 helped propel the Wildcats to a second-place finish in Big Ten play, the team's best finish since 1984. After starting nearly every game as a freshman, Fields missed most of his second season with injuries. But the All-Big Ten third baseman rebounded for a sensational junior campaign. He batted a team-leading .340 during the conference regular season, and his five home runs ranked second in Big Ten action.
Troy Smith Ohio State Football
Smith became the third black quarterback to be named the nation's top player as the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner. The senior was nearly flawless in his final year, piloting the Buckeyes' 14-1 season and Big Ten Championship run that included two wins over the nation's No. 2-ranked teams. But Smith accomplished another feat that will live in Buckeye lore, becoming the first Ohio State quarterback since Tippy Dye (1934-36) to lead the team to three consecutive wins over archrival Michigan.
Megan Hodge Penn State Volleyball
The only player to ever claim both Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Year honors, Hodge led the conference and the Nittany Lions in points per game (5.57) and kills per game (4.83). The Durham, N.C. native was also dubbed the AVCA National Freshman of the Year, marking the second consecutive season that the accolade has gone to a Nittany Lion. With an AVCA All-America first-team nod, Hodge also became the first freshman selection in Big Ten history.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton Purdue Women's Basketball
In 2007, Wisdom-Hylton became the second Boilermaker to receive Defensive Player of the Year honors and the first since Kelly Komara won the award in 2002. The junior has set the school's single-season record with 96 blocked shots and is closing in on the career record of 220 held by Stacey Lovelace (1993-96). The shot-swatter made an immediate impact when she arrived in West Lafayette for the 2004-05 season. She needed only 19 games to break the team's 15-year-old freshman blocks record and reset the mark at 56.
Alando Tucker Wisconsin Men's Basketball
A leading candidate for All-America and National Player of the Year honors, Tucker has piloted Wisconsin to a historic season as the team crafted a school-record 17-game winning streak from November to January. Tucker became the second player in Wisconsin history and 23rd in the Big Ten to score at least 2,000 career points. After amassing 1,500 career points prior to his final year, the fifth-year senior became the first Badger to lead the conference in scoring with an average of 20 points per outing in 2006.