Damian Lillard headlines new Weber State Hall of Fame class for 2021
Weber State University announced five new inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame on Wednesday night: Rebecca Bennion (women’s track and field/cross country), Nick Chournos (football), Damian Lillard (men’s basketball), Ron McBride (football coach) and Jody Lake (administrator).
The Wildcat Club Hall of Fame Banquet will be Friday, September 17, at the Eccles Conference Center in Ogden. The class will also be recognized at the Weber State football home game against James Madison on Saturday, September 18. For more information about Hall of Fame weekend, contact the Wildcat Club at 801-626-6576.
A three-time All-American and three-time Big Sky champion, Rebecca Bennion was a standout for the Weber State women’s cross country and track and field teams.
She made history during the 2001 Big Sky Outdoor Championships by winning three conference titles in the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters. She became the first female Wildcat to win the Big Sky title in the steeplechase and is one of just five Weber State track athletes to win three titles at the same outdoor championship.
She went on to finish second in the steeplechase at the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championships, which is tied for the highest finish ever in a track event. She also finished eighth in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA meet to earn All-America honors in both events.
A native of Evanston, Wyoming, Bennion earned Big Sky All-Conference honors seven times in her career in cross country.
She finished her career as Weber State’s school record holder in the steeplechase and the 5,000 meters. Twenty years later, she still ranks fourth in Weber State history and fifth in Big Sky history in the steeplechase with a time of 9:54.84 and is fourth in WSU history and seventh in Big Sky history in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:07.94.
Nick Chournos was a standout running back for the Weber State football team from 2001-04 and finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher.
A native of Tremonton, Chournos started every game in his final three seasons.
As a junior in 2003, he earned All-America honors and set a Weber State single-season rushing record that still stands. He led the Big Sky and finished with 1,649 yards and 13 touchdowns on 297 attempts in 12 games. He surpassed 220 yards in a game twice that season, including a career-high 234 yards and two touchdowns in a win at Portland State.
He started every game of his final three seasons and finished his career with 3,593 rushing yards, which at the time made him the all-time leader and now ranks second in school history. He had 735 career rushing attempts and 30 career touchdowns, which currently ranks as the fifth most in WSU history. He also ranks fifth in school history in career all-purpose yards with 4,160.
The NBA superstar and Olympic gold medalist is one of the greatest athletes to play in the Big Sky Conference or a school in the state of Utah.
The Oakland, California, native came to Ogden in 2008 as a true freshman and four years later left as a legend.
Lillard was Big Sky Freshman of the Year and earned first team All-Big Sky honors as the Wildcats won the Big Sky title. During his sophomore season, he led the ‘Cats to a second straight Big Sky title and was named Big Sky MVP, after leading the conference in scoring at 19.9 points per game.
He entered his junior season with huge expectations, but broke his foot just nine games into the season that forced him to miss the rest of the year.
Lillard returned for the 2011-12 season and led the nation in scoring for most of the season, finishing second at 24.5 points per game, the best single-season average in school history. He had eight games of 30 or more points and two of 40 or more, including a career-high 41 points in a win over San Jose State.
The season culminated in Lillard earning All-America honors, becoming the only player in Big Sky history to be named to an All-American team.
He finished his Weber State career with 1,934 career points, at the time second in school history and now fourth. He still ranks as WSU’s career leader in free throws made and ranks in the WSU career top 10 in nine other categories.
Following his record-setting season, he declared early for the 2012 NBA Draft and was selected sixth by the Portland Trail Blazers. He earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 and has since earned All-NBA honors six times and been named to six NBA All-Star teams.
During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he won a gold medal with Team USA. He became the first player from a school in the state of Utah to play in the Olympics for Team USA.
Coach Mac was the head coach of the Weber State football team from 2005-11, amassing 43 wins and leading the Wildcats to a Big Sky title.
After a legendary career as head coach at the University of Utah, McBride returned to coaching in the state of Utah to shouts of “Mac’s Back.”
Mac’s highlight season came in 2008 when the Wildcats came out of nowhere to win the Big Sky and finished with a 10-4 overall record. Weber State was 7-1 in Big Sky play to claim its first conference title in 20 years. The ‘Cats won their first seven games in conference play, including a 45-28 home win over third-ranked Montana. After that win, Weber State was nationally ranked for the first time in eight years.
The ‘Cats also advanced to the FCS Playoffs for the first time in 17 years and just the third time in school history and defeated third-ranked Cal Poly 49-35 in the first round.
Sophomore quarterback Cameron Higgins earned Big Sky Offensive MVP honors that season and 12 Wildcats earned All-Big Sky honors, at the time the most in a season by any team in league history. A total of 10 players earned All-America honors that season.
WSU went 6-2 in conference play in 2009, advancing to the FCS Playoffs for the second straight season, and posted a third-straight winning season in 2010.
McBride posted a 43-38 overall record and a 34-21 mark in Big Sky play. He also coached players to 24 All-American honors and 63 all-conference awards. WSU also had five players drafted into the NFL during his tenure. He coached several players that still rank as Weber State career record holders, including Bo Bolen, Brady Fosmark, Cameron Higgins, Trevyn Smith and Tim Toone.
As part of the Hall of Fame ceremony, Jody Lake will receive the Reed K. Swenson Distinguished Service Award, honoring her longtime service to Weber State University and Wildcat Athletics.
Lake worked at Weber State and the Dee Events Center for 40 years from 1980-2019, including more than 20 years as the director of the Dee Events Center. During her career, she helped coordinate the hosting of several thousand events at the Dee Events Center from basketball games, graduations, concerts, religious events and numerous community events.
During her time at the Dee Events Center, Weber State hosted four NCAA Tournaments and multiple Big Sky Championships, in addition to serving as the home for Wildcat men’s and women’s basketball. The DEC also hosted a dozen Utah Jazz preseason games as well as numerous high school basketball tournaments and was home to Weber State volleyball for many years.
Under her guidance, the building also had several upgrades and improvements and the Dee Events Center continues to serve as a home for Weber State University and the community. She was also involved in the building of the Weber County Ice Sheet, the Marquardt Field House and the Weber State softball complex.
Lake retired in July 2019.