Batter up! Baseball Leadoff Banquet planned February 8

Jason Gasser
Jason Gasser

The annual NIU Baseball Leadoff Banquet begins at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, at Acquaviva Winery in nearby Maple Park.

The event will be an opportunity to meet and greet with Huskie players, as well as new head coach Mike Kunigonis, who will preview the 2015 season.

Kunigonis, this year’s special guest speaker, was hired as the Huskies head coach January 5, 2014 after spending the last seven seasons at Virginia Tech, including the last two years as the Associate Head Coach. While in Blacksburg, Kunigonis helped the Hokies to two NCAA Regional appearances, including one as a host site in 2013.

The Worcester, Mass., native brings 13 years of Division I coaching experience to DeKalb, as well as recruiting ties to the city of Chicago. as Midwest recruiter in his time at Virginia Tech. Prior to VT, Kunigonis spent a combined seven seasons at Redford, Canisius and Niagara. He played four seasons at American International in Springfield, Mass., graduating with bachelors degrees in criminal justice and sociology in 2002.

“This is a great opportunity to interact with a lot of supporters of the NIU Baseball program, some of which I’ll be meeting for the first time at the Leadoff Banquet. These types of events are a great tradition and really encourages engagement between our players, our families and alumni of Northern Illinois University,” Kunigonis said.

Mike Kunigonis
Mike Kunigonis

“I’m looking forward to meeting the friends and families of the program at the event and talking baseball with everyone. We’ll be five days away from first pitch against South Dakota State so we’ll be ready to start playing against someone else other than ourselves,” Kunigoni said.

Along with Kunigonis speaking, NIU will also be holding a silent auction, as well as a live auction and giving away raffle items during the banquet with all proceeds going to the baseball program.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for $60 through the Huskie Athletic Fund office. Tickets must be purchased by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2. Fans can RSVP, purchase tickets or ask questions by contacting Director of Development Kristin Gobberg at (815) 753-2549 or via email at kgobberg@niu.edu.

Doors for the event will open up at 4:30 p.m., with the dinner program beginning at 5:30 p.m. A cash bar will be available at the event. Credit cards will be accepted for reservations. Acquaviva Winery is located in Maple Park at 47W614 Illinois 38, 60151.

For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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