Played For: Eastern Illinois University (1980-1983)
Nancy Kassebaum grew up playing sports with her brothers, Andy, Danny, and David. The ball fields and playgrounds of east Belleville (IL) provided the training grounds of development. Andy was very proud of his sister and took her everywhere as the situation allowed. Many sodas were won in the Intramural Gym at Belleville Area College when Andy and Nancy would challenge anyone to a 2 on 2 basketball game.
At Belleville Township High School East, Nancy earned 9 letters in sports: basketball (4), tennis (3), track (1), softball (1). Nancy’s freshman year was the first year of the basketball program at BTHSE, and her senior year was the first year of the softball program. Having never played tennis in her life, the late Coach Bill Duhadway saw Nancy in a P.E. class and developed her into a player who went to state in doubles competition her junior and senior years. Also, during this time, Kassebaum was introduced to the Whiz Kids softball team, led by George Renner III. This team became legendary, traveling all over the country, most times dominating its competition.
Nancy received approximately 80 college solicitations for her athletic talents. Eastern Illinois University earned her trust. Nancy ‘s four-year basketball and softball playing career is marked with many records, many of which still stand. In basketball, her 683 career assists and 479 steals are still school records. Her basketball scoring record of 1,807 points in her 1980-83 career wasn’t surpassed until 2009.
In 1995, a statue was commissioned by the late Dr. Glenn Williams and Joan Williams, in the likeness of Nancy, in recognition of the values, commitment, excellence and integrity that Nancy demonstrated as a student-athlete at EIU. Her No. 13 jersey was retired in 2005, and she is recognized as one of 10 female athletes with the biggest impact on EIU athletics.
Honored as a 3-time Academic All-American, Kassebaum’s success in the classroom is her greatest achievement. As a graduate assistant with EIU’s women’s basketball team, she helped student-athletes develop strategies and techniques to stay disciplined and focused, both on the court and in the classroom.
Deanna D’Abbraccio, Former EIU Head Softball/Assistant Basketball Coach bragged, “To say that Nancy Kassebaum was an outstanding student-athlete at Eastern Illinois University is an understatement. No athlete has had a greater impact on a women’s athletic program than Nancy. Her athletic and academic acumen is celebrated in the accolades and awards. It was a pleasure to watch her field ground balls, turn double plays, and shoot jump shots! Humble, quiet, smart, intense, and competitive, Nancy was the ultimate teammate who made everyone around her better, including her coaches. A one in a million!”
Below is a list of some of the honors that Nancy has received over the years:
- Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame 2022
- Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Legends Class of 2020
- Eastern Illinois University, #13 Jersey retired 2005
- Eastern Illinois University Hall of Fame 1990
- College All-American Softball 1982, 1983
- College All-American Basketball 1982
- College Academic All-American 1981, 1982, 1983