Tjeerdsma Splash

Mel Tjeerdsma built the Northwest football program from the bottom up. In his first season, Tjeerdsma finished 0-11 and in just four years he transformed the program winning back-to-back national championships in 1998 and 1999.

Mel Tjeerdsma officially joined the list of college football’s best Tuesday night as one of the 12 newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

The National Football Foundation recognized Tjeerdsma and the 2018 induction class in New York City as part of the organization’s 61st annual awards dinner in New York City.

Tjeerdsma is most prominent for establishing the culture Northwest football is known for today. The Bearcats lost each of their 11 games after Tjeerdsma’s arrival in 1994 from Austin College. Northwest earned its first of three NCAA Division II Championships under Tjeerdsma four years later.

He coached the Bearcats to 12 MIAA titles. He also received the conference’s Coach of the Year honor 12 times. He was named as the national coach of the year four times.

Tjeerdsma retired from coaching in 2011 with 247 career victories (183 Northwest, 64 Austin College). He returned to Northwest as director of athletics in 2013.

As director of athletics, Tjeerdsma oversaw three more NCAA Division II football national championships (2013, 2015, 2016) and one NCAA DIvision II men’s basketball national championship (2016).

Planning and construction for the now completed Hughes Fieldhouse also occurred during Tjeerdsma’s tenure. He retired from the position April 30.

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