School in Session for Illini Gridders - 8/26/98
Today was the first day of the fall semester for 36,000 University of Illinois students, including 6,000 freshmen. With the opening of the school term, the Fighting Illini football squad opened regular fall practice at a new headquarters, the First and Stadium Drive Multiplex. The Illini worked out for two hours in the closed practice as preparations begin for the Saturday, September 5 season opener at Washington State (5:30 p.m. central, Fox Sports Net, Illini Sports Network).
The Illini gridders moved into new practice fields today with the East Stadium practice fields unplayable with new sod planted. The Illini will practice for the rest of the week at the First and Stadium Multiplex, a group of soccer fields operated by the Division of Campus Recreation and located just north of Stadium Drive. The home for Illinois women's soccer is the Soccer Multiplex, located just south of Stadium Drive, so the Illini soccer and football squads worked out virtually side-by-side this afternoon. The regular practice facility, the East Stadium fields have been heavily resodded and the grass is being isolated to give it time to firm up. The Illini will remain at the First and Stadium Multiplex until at least Monday, depending on the status of the regular practice facility.
Enjoying the Illinois football practice today as guests and friends of the Illinois football program were Head Basketball Coach Lon Kruger, Head Soccer Coach Jill Ellis and former UI multi-sport standout, former Board of Trustee member, Chicago Sports Hall of Famer and banjo player Russell "Ruck" Steger. Steger was one of the most colorful athletes in Illinois history, a standout in baseball and football (1946-49) and an entertaining character who once played and sang for his dinner on a troop train with Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra. Steger regaled the assembled UI administrators and guests with stories and jokes during practice this afternoon before spending time with Coach Turner after practice.