COD Athletic Hall of Fame Welcomes 2023 Class

COD inducted Aaron Bailey, Ralph Miller, Kent Pearson, Wendy Rochon, Jessica Stacy and Jane Vatchev to the Athletic Hall of Fame.

Claire Valenti, Sports Writer

With a long-standing history of athletic excellence, many College of DuPage athletes receive awards during their time as a Chaparral. To honor these achievements, the recently-founded COD Athletic Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees, and this year six more names have been cemented on June 3 in their fourth-ever ceremony.

The first inductee of the night was former Director of Athletics and Associate Dean Ralph Miller. He served as the Director of Athletics between 1992-2002, with COD winning 18 national championships under him. Miller oversaw 18 sports and supervised 60 coaches during his time with COD.

“I’m humbled, to be honest, and maybe a little bit embarrassed by the nice things that were said about me,” Miller said. “I’d like to believe most of it was true, but what I reflect on most are the wonderful people I worked with. It was a great place. It was a great opportunity. I made great friends and I think the students had really meaningful experiences.”

The second inductee was former track and field head coach Jane Vatchev. She coached men’s and women’s track and field for 13 seasons between 2000-2012, winning four titles with each team. Vatchev has the most NJCAA title wins in the history of COD head coaches. She also founded the Athletic Hall of Fame, bringing the ceremony to COD in 2017.

“I got inducted into my high school hall of fame, and it was an amazing honor, and primarily why I was inducted was because of the success that I had at COD,” Vatchev said. “On the drive home, I kept thinking, ‘Why do we not have an athletic hall of fame at COD?’ I wrote down some ideas and brought them to the athletic director at the time, and it didn’t go anywhere. In 2017, we got a new athletic director, he was able to financially support it and physically support it. I got a committee formed and took ideas from people I talked to from the different halls of fame of different colleges and brought that forward to the committee and that got everything off the ground.”

The first athlete to be inducted of the night was former softball player Wendy Rochon. She played first base for the Chaparrals between 1999-2000, made the All-American team twice and was part of the 2000 national championship team. Rochon finished her playing career after two more years at Lewis University and went on to coach for Augustana University, Heidelberg University and Lewis University.

“Walking in today and seeing coaches and athletic directors that I used to play for takes me back,” Rochon said. “It’s been 23 years since I’ve played at the College of DuPage and to be able to see these people brings me back. I felt like a young kid again for just a brief moment.”

Former three-sport athlete Jessica Stacy was inducted next. She played basketball, volleyball and ran track and field for COD between 2000-2002. Stacy helped the Chaparrals to the 2002 NJCAA basketball championship, earned All-N4C and All-Region 4 honors for basketball and All-American honors for track and field.

“After 20-something years, you don’t really expect to get an award like this,” Stacy said. “It was a complete shock at first, and then an honor. [I’m] so appreciative of them putting together something like this. Honoring athletes from that long ago truly is amazing, and I’m just so thankful. I have so many good memories. College of DuPage has been a really great place to me. The attention that I got, the teachers that I had, and the coaching that I had was so much better than [anything]. It’s a testament to the program they run on both the athletic side and the academic side.”

The third athlete to be inducted was former NFL wide receiver Aaron Bailey. He played for COD between 1990-1991 and was named an All-American before receiving a scholarship to the University of Louisville. He went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts for five seasons.

“It’s truly an honor to come back here and be selected as a hall of famer,” Bailey said. “That’s forever. It let me know where I stand in history with the Chaparrals. We have a long tradition of excellence here. In all sports. The five other individuals that were in the class with me and looking at their resumes made me think ‘wow.’ It’s one heck of an honor.”

The last induction of the night was former swimmer Kent Pearson, who competed for the Chaparrals between 1973-1975. He earned three All-American honors and national titles in two events for COD, then continued his swimming career at the University of Iowa. Pearson wasn’t available for comment.

To learn more and view content from the ceremony, visit