Paula Dau '58 will receive the Forester Impact Award and the College's Athletic Hall of Fame will increase its membership by four at Homecoming on Saturday, October 8. David Bleitner '05, Katie McCants '03, Melissa (Stevenson) Chik '06, and Joe Zemaitis '02 are the 2016 inductees.
After receiving Honorable Mention All-Midwest Conference accolades as a freshman and sophomore, David Bleitner was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American each of the next two seasons. He set team records with 15.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss as a junior and finished as the Foresters' career leader in stops behind the line of scrimmage. Equally successful in the classroom, he was a two-time Second Team Academic All-American and a three-time Academic All-MWC honoree.
Katie McCants was named First Team All-Midwest Conference as a sophomore, junior, and senior and added Second Team All-Region and Honorable Mention All-American accolades her final season. Her 1,075 career points and 550 rebounds each ranked fifth in program history at the time of her graduation and she helped lead the Foresters to an 81-19 overall record and a 55-9 mark in league play with three conference titles during her four seasons.
Melissa Stevenson graduated as the Forester women's soccer team's career leader with 54 goals and 142 points. She was named First Team All-Midwest Conference each of her four seasons and a Second Team All-Region honoree after scoring 17 goals and setting team records with 51 points and 17 assists as a junior. Stevenson was also a three-time Academic All-MWC selection and a First Team Academic All-American as a senior. Lake Forest was 43-23-3 overall and 26-7-3 in the MWC with a league title and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance during her career.
Joe Zemaitis earned four letters each in cross country and swimming and diving and found success in each sport. He was the first Forester cross country runner to win a race since the rebirth of the program and, in the pool, won six conference titles and set a pair of team records. His greatest success came when he combined those two sports with bicycling. During his freshman year be became the youngest person to break 10 hours in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships and, after he graduated from the College, he went on to compete professionally in several international competitions. He also founded what has turned into an extremely successful swim club in Arizona and also authored a book about parenting and sports.
Following the induction of Bleitner, McCants, Stevenson, and Zemaitis, the Forester Athletic Hall of Fame membership will consist of 238 individuals and three teams. It was founded in 1974 with an initial class of 19 inductees. To be considered for induction, a former student must have been an alumnus of at least 10 years and have either earned a varsity letter or have made an outstanding contribution as a player, coach, administrator, or other participant in the field of athletics. A coach or administrator must have experienced historically significant success over several years while employed at the College to be considered while a team must have reached an extremely significant level of success at least 10 years earlier.
In addition to the four hall of fame inductees, the Athletic Recognition Ceremony on Homecoming will also honor Paula Dau, one of the most beloved friends of Forester Athletics.
A 1958 graduate of Lake Forest College, Paula was elected Homecoming Queen in 1956, was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, and was actively involved with choir and theatre. She orchestrated the College's first modern dance group on campus, served as a director of variety shows for two years, and participated in multiple school plays.
Throughout her undergraduate career, Paula worked in costuming, make-up, and design, but found that she excelled in acting. She was awarded Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1957 for her role in "Charlie's Aunt" and the following year, received the Best Actress Award for her performance in "Tea Sympathy".
Over the years, Paula has been instrumental in the success of Forester Athletics through both her active leadership as an Alumni Board member and her continual commitment and dedication as a volunteer at campus wide events. She became a life-time Alumni Board member in 2001 and has helped foster and maintain relationships with alumni, parents, and friends, and has served as a knowledgeable resource to help with student recruitment and career networking.
Under Paula's direction, she initiated a project to honor retired faculty with commemorative plaques in the Donnelly Library. The display honors over 70 faculty for their service to the College dating back to her undergraduate years. Paula also orchestrated the Great Teacher Award, which is also displayed in the library. Her estate planning will leave a fund to perpetuate the awards.
"Paula has been my go-to person for everything. I'm always calling her" commented Lake Forest College Senior Director of Alumni and Community Suzanne Nyren. "Paula volunteers her time every year to help with registration at Homecoming, and is always there to help with Residence Hall Move-In Day, cap and gown pick-up, matriculation, gallery openings, and Lyrica Concert Series."
As Paula herself commented, "I feel very honored to receive this award. I was taken off guard when I found out I was selected. I enjoy the student body and, of course love the College. It also goes hand in hand that I would support Mike (husband, Coach Mike Dau) and his program and be over at the athletic facility as much as I can be to see many of the games."
Outside of her Alumni Board responsibilities, Paula works with her husband, Mike Dau, as the assistant handball coach. Coach Dau noted, "Whenever the team travels, Paula travels with us. She maintains our travel schedule, wake-up calls, does the laundry every night, and then invariably will turn around and drive one of the vans home the next day...she can never do enough."
Additionally, Paula helps Coach Dau coordinate the annual Junior Handball Camp with scheduling, hosting campers at their home, and ensuring all campers' needs are met both physically and mentally. "I have a soft shoulder to lean on", says Paula. "I'm the surrogate mom and help the kids with emergencies so that it would relieve Coach from having to do all those things."
Still a fan of the Foresters, Paula continues to give generously of her time, energy, and resources. In addition to volunteering to work at athletic contests, serving as a resource to the Athletic Department staff, and supporting various fundraising initiatives, she is a faithful member of the F.A.N. Club, an annual donor in the golf outing, and a regular in the stands at home athletic and alumni contests and events.
"Paula Dau is an incredibly special part of our Forester community" commented Lake Forest College Director of Athletics Jackie Slaats. As an alumna, she has and continues to generate incredible good will and support for the College and Forester Athletics and as our assistant handball coach, she has and continues to serve a pivotal role as the program's "team mom." I honestly can't think of a more caring, generous, and spirited Forester. From her days as Homecoming queen to today, Paula Dau has been a Forester cheerleader - like no other - and I personally can't thank her enough for all she's done or love her more than I do."
Additionally, Paula's dedication across campus and in the community was felt through several philanthropic initiatives. Among them is the annual Day of Service, when Lake Forest College students, faculty, staff and alumni volunteer their Saturday to give back to the community and North Chicago Community. She has also been involved with the North Chicago Community Partners Programs, designed to achieve community improvements in nearby North Chicago public schools. Further, during the summer of 2008, she served as an unofficial chaperone for a group of students traveling to China. Paula was awarded the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2008 for her outstanding service and dedication to Lake Forest College.
The Forester Impact Award honors individuals who have made a significant impact on athletics at Lake Forest College through their loyal support and whose consistent and meritorious commitment has contributed to the success of Forester Athletics. More specifically, the Forester Impact Award is one of two Forester Athletic Network (F.A.N. Club) Appreciation Awards, the Golden Whistle Award being the other, that recognizes and honors members of the Forester community who, over a significant number of years, have actively supported athletics at Lake Forest College through their service, dedication, and commitment and, who by giving of themselves, have demonstrated the extraordinary spirit and pride associated with Forester Athletics and its Tradition of Excellence.
Paula Dau joins previous Forester Impact Award winners Karen Hermann (2014) and Spike Gummere (2015).
The Athletic Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, October 8, will be held in Calvin Durand Hall and will begin at 10:00 a.m.