Over the past six weeks, Green Bay Athletics has announced 11 new members to the “Top 50 Most Influential Leaders in Green Bay Athletics History” list:
Men’s basketball coach Mike Heideman, served as a top assistant under Dick Bennett from 1986-1995, before becoming the head coach until 2002. Heideman led the team to a 25-win season, a conference championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 1995-1996, while leading the program through its relocation from Brown County Arena to the Resch Center and helping to drive community support for the program by aiding in starting the now annual tradition of the Phoenix Packers Steak Fry.
Green Bay Athletics team physician and surgeon from 1978-2012, Dr. Jim Hinckley, helped hundreds of student-athletes return from injury over his 35 years with the department. Dr. Hinckley’s commitment went beyond sports medicine, as he served as a consultant to the department, provided philanthropic support and still serves in advisory capacities across the department. Dr. Hinckley was inducted into the Green Bay Phoenix Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mark King is a key supporter of Green Bay Athletics and former student athlete (golf) who graduated from the University in 1981. King is the current CEO of Taco Bell and was the CEO of both Adidas and TaylorMade-adidas Golf Company. He provided philanthropic support with projects like the former TaylorMade-adidas Golf Outing, newly renovated softball stadium “King Park” and also provides golf team scholarships. Furthermore, he is credited with the department’s apparel deal with Adidas, which now outfits nearly 250 student-athletes in consistent branding across all sports. King was inducted into the Green Bay Phoenix Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mike Kline, the longest-tenured coach and administrator, serves as both the head men’s and women’s cross country coach and the athletics academic coordinator. Coach Kline is credited with the department’s incredible reputation for academic success, which has 40 consecutive semesters above a 3.0 GPA. Coach Kline received the Chancellor’s Award in 2014 for his leadership at the University.
Denis Kreft, the Phoenix Fund Board President provides leadership for the department during difficult times of transition, and galvanizes community support for various Green Bay Athletics programs. While also providing philanthropic support for the department, Kreft supported the department strategically as well, becoming instrumental in the department’s rebranding in 2007 and the facility rebranding in 2019.
The Kress Center Trio was a unique partnership with private donors, the state of Wisconsin and the students of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, to the approval and building of the award-winning Kress Events Center. The student commitment of $15 million came first, with the adoption of increased activities fees to cover nearly half of the estimated cost of the project, led by former student government leaders Brian Gold and Kurt Kober. The state contribution of $7.5 million followed with leadership from legislators Rob Cowles, John Gard and Dave Hansen. Finally, $11 million from private donors completed the partnership, led by campaign co-chairs Ginny Riopelle and Tom Olson and project volunteer Mike Meeuwsen.
Members of the Kress family are long-time supporters of UW-Green Bay and athletics. Their monumental gifts of the Kress Events Center in 2009 and the Kress Family Outdoor Recreation Complex in 2018 were program-changing projects that embody today’s modern Green Bay Athletics brand.
Lou LeCalsey was UW-Green Bay’s founding soccer coach, former Council of Trustees President and retired business executive, is credited with setting the standard of excellence for Green Bay men’s soccer and providing continuing guidance and council for the University, today. LeCalsey was the first coach for all of Green Bay Athletics, serving in the 1969 and 1970 seasons, compiling a record of 22-4-2. He was recognized with his induction into the Green Bay Phoenix Hall of Fame in 2000, the Chancellor’s Award in 2001 and an honorary degree of the Doctor of Law in 2016.
Legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi helped shape Green Bay Athletics during the early years of the program, serving as an athletics advisor and pushing for the implementation of soccer as a premiere sport at the University.
Marilyn McCarey, who worked for Green Bay Athletics for nearly 40 years, served as the lead secretary and later as the director of ticket sales for almost three decades. McCarey was foundational in the department’s transition to Division I athletics and always offered to help in areas outside of her job, including planning major events, such as the Hall of Fame. McCarey always ensured season ticket holders had a first-class experience and was a key figure in the success of Green Bay Athletics.
Mike Meeuwsen has been a supporter of Green Bay Athletics for more than three decades. Meeuwsen joined the newly formed Phoenix Fund Board in 1990, serving in various leadership roles, including president. In addition, he played a key role in the campaign for the Kress Events Center. Meeuwsen, his wife Kate, and daughters Emily, Gretchen and Ellen continue to attend games and provide council and guidance to University and athletics staff today.