CHICAGO – Displaying an obvious sign of respect from one successful sports team to another, the Chicago Blackhawks welcomed the Saint Xavier University football team and its 2011 NAIA National Championship trophy to the United Center for Sunday night's game against the San Jose Sharks. The Blackhawks set up a table in the concourse to display the national championship trophy and other promotional items, including 2011 SXU Football media guides and specially designed posters celebrating the national championship victory. During the second intermission, SXU head coach Mike Feminis was invited to "Shoot the Puck" and then public address announcer Gene Honda read off a congratulatory message to the team while highlights from the national championship game were shown on the Jumbotron. Following the tribute, the Cougars had their seating section displayed on the Jumbotron, which drew a special applause from the announced crowd of 21,645.
"It was a special night for our guys," said Feminis. "My sincere thanks goes out to the entire Chicago Blackhawks organization and everything they did to honor our team. I am a die-hard Blackhawks fan, so this night will always hold a special place in my heart. I know that a lot of our players and coaches are big fans as well, so to be honored and then watch them win another game (Hawks won a 4-3 thriller) was icing on the cake. I just wish I hadn‘t choked shooting the puck, because I will never hear the end of it."
The Saint Xavier University football team also held its annual postseason banquet earlier that Sunday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Alsip. As expected, it was an emotional affair with inspirational speeches by Feminis, University President Christine M. Wiseman, J.D. and SXU Athletic Director Bob Hallberg. Feminis and his coaching staff also recognized and distributed the individual accolades from the 2011 campaign and paid a special tribute to its senior class, the first to bring a national championship home to Saint Xavier University in its 41-year history of athletics. Senior running back KJ Franklin (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) earned the Cougar Award for Spirit, Heart and Desire; while senior defensive end/linebacker Michael Prosser (Rockton, Ill./Rockton-Hononegah) took home the team's Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Following the banquet, the team and coaches loaded the buses to depart for the United Center.
The Saint Xavier University Athletics Department will hold a special assembly to honor its football team on winning the 2011 NAIA National Championship later today at 3:30 p.m. at the Shannon Center on its Chicago campus. The Cougars are the first college football team to bring a national title to the city of Chicago since 1913 and the first college football team in the state of Illinois to win a national championship since Augustana College did it in 1986.
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