CHARLESTON — In May, the Eastern Illinois athletic department announced the newest members of the EIU Hall of Fame - J.R. Taylor (football), Zye Boey (men's track and field), Cara LeMaster Trufant (women's soccer), David Kidwell (administrator) and Joe Strohm (friend of EIU athletics).
On Saturday, all five will be officially inducted into the EIU Hall of Fame during Saturday's home game, which starts at 6 p.m., against Tennessee Tech.
For Taylor, the Hall of Fame selection means a lot to him.
"I feel like it puts a stamp on my career. It's a huge thing for me," Taylor said. "When I got the call, I was in shock and I am still in shock and it's a surreal thing for me right now. I am really excited. From playing in the Apollo Conference and going into the Hall of Fame that includes Bob Spoo, Sean Payton and Tony Romo, coach Carver, those are guys I looked up to. I am excited to go in and share that with them and some of the other athletes."
The Mount Zion graduate played for EIU from 1999 to 2002. He was a part of three straight FCS playoff teams and finished his career with 3,705 yards, which ranks as the fourth highest in school history. He led the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing with 1,522 yards his senior season and was a consensus first-team All-American.
Taylor holds the record for rushing yards in a game with 308 against Florida Atlantic in 2002. That's not the game that sticks out to Taylor the most, though.
"I hardly ever think about it," Taylor said. "It was great when it happened, but the game I think about the most is when we had all of the rain and we didn't pass the ball. It was against Southeast Missouri State, and it was homecoming and we had a real bad rain storm. Tony (Romo) had a streak of completions coming into the game and we didn't attempt one pass. I had 241 yards that game."
Taylor ended his career with 51 total rushing touchdowns, which still ranks as the most in EIU's history and it's the third-most all-time in Ohio Valley Conference history. Taylor is surprised the mark still stands.
"For me, I didn't realize 51 was that many when it happened. I thought that would be something that would be broken really fast," Taylor said. "That's really only 10 touchdowns a year and many can do that. Now 15 years later it's still there and I think how hard it is to score at the college level."
Taylor went on to play semi-pro football and was in the Arena League. He currently lives in Crystal Lake and is a special education teacher with the Crystal Lake school district. He coaches his son's football team and still keeps up with the EIU football team.
"I get all of the alerts and keep up with what they are doing," Taylor said. "Coach (Kim) Dameron was the defensive coordinator my sophomore year. He's a great guy, so I was happy when they named him the head coach. Scotty Gilkey was on my team so I remember Little Scotty (Gilkey Jr., EIU's current starting quarterback) when he was three or four years old so I keep up with him now."
Boey said getting the call about being elected into the Hall of Fame was an unbelievable feeling.
"Coming through college and all of the hard work, I was kind of expecting it, but expecting it and having it happen is a different feeling," Boey said. "It's so surreal and I am excited for the weekend."
Boey, who was a member of the EIU men's track and field team, holds the honor of being the fastest person in school history. From 2009-12, Boey set the school records in the indoor 60-meter dash, the indoor 200-meter dash, the outdoor 100-meter dash and the outdoor 200-meter dash.
"it feels great. How I look at it, every record is meant to be broken. Five years now and it still stands and my brother gave me crap about beating my records and they still stand," Boey said. "I think it will stand for another 20 years. It's great to know all of the hard work I put in still stands."
Boey was part of seven OVC championship teams and was named the OVC MVP five times. He was a five-time All-American and earned first team honors with a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash at the 2011 Indoor National Championships.
The Decatur native competed in the 100 and 200-meter events at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trails.
"Being there was, wow. I was star struck and then I realized I was here competing against these guys and I am on the same level," Boey said. "I put in the hard work and I deserved to be there. I am a humble guy and it was hard for me to talk about it then, but five years later, I can live in that moment every now and again. I made it to the Olympic Trails."
Boey currently lives in Decatur and is working at ADM as a microbiology technician and quality control. He's been married for five years and has a six-year-old daughter.
"She just wants to run, run, run. I think the matchup is 6-0 and I can't seem to beat her. Maybe she will let me beat her someday," Boey said.
LeMaster Trufant, who as a member of the women's soccer team, said it's a tremendous honor to be going into the Hall of Fame.
"What a way to wrap up a career all of these years later. All of the memories and friendships that are still with me today, it all came flooding back and it was great," LeMaster Trufant said. "I am so thankful for my time at Eastern and for the people that I've met and the friendships that I made. I am so proud I was able to wear the blue and white."
LeMaster Trufant was a key piece on one of the most successful EIU women's soccer programs from 1999-2002. She earned All-OVC honors all four seasons and was twice named to the All-Great Lakes Region team. She was a part of the first two EIU teams that made it to the NCAA Women's College Cup in 2001 and 2002.
"That's the dream when you are a Division I soccer player, and EIU provided such a great opportunity to kick-start that program," LeMaster Trufant said. "That first game, we played Notre Dame and as a girl growing up in the Midwest, that's a dream. Then the next year, we fought tooth and nail with Purdue. To set the precedent of what it took to get to that level, that was pretty special."
LeMaster Trufant still ranks in EIU's top 10 in four offensive categories - points (66, fourth), assists (22, fifth), game-winning goals (eight overall, fifth all-time) and goals (22, sixth).
"I met my husband years later and he didn't know me as a soccer player. I never prided myself on goals and assists," LeMaster Trufant siad. "I prided myself on being the player that was the little engine, that never gave up whether we were losing 5-0 to Illinois or beating Morehead State 6-0. I fought like tooth and nail to do whatever it took to get the win. Plus I did play with Beth Liesen, the best player at EIU."
LeMaster Trufant currently lives in Columbus, Mississippi. She and her husband have two kids, and she's a stay-at-home mom.
Strohm is an EIU graduate and he currently works as the Vice President for Ticket Sales for the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It's an honor because Eastern always will hold a special place in my heart. It's really how I got started working in the sports industry," Strohm said. "When I was working there, it was the superstar administration. The university played such a key role in shaping me and what I've done for the last 30 years."
Strohm worked for the EIU athletic department as a student employee, and he said the relationships he developed at EIU helped start his career with the Cardinals.
"I could see what they did day in and day out and how they built relationships. It's all about relationships, and that's the one thing that I noticed and they taught me," Strohm said. "That shaped my love for it and showed me I wanted to be around sports. I saw how much they loved what they did for a living. That's something I've tried to take in day in and day out. It's all about relationships."