The Purdue University Calumet Athletic Department will add its 13th sport to the Peregrines’ thriving athletic program with the addition of women’s golf beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, as announced by Athletic Director Rick Costello.
Thanks to a generous donation in honor of Mike Lalaeff, women’s golf will join the already existing Peregrine teams of men’s golf, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s cross country. Barb and Burney Fischer, Northwest Indiana natives and longtime family friends of Mr. Lalaeff, chose to honor their friend and his love of golf by supporting the growth of athletics at Purdue University Calumet.
Like the men’s team, the women will compete in the fall and spring competition within the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference of the NAIA.
“We are beyond excited to add women’s golf and increase the athletic participation opportunities for female students at Purdue Calumet,” Costello said. “On behalf of the Peregrines, I am so grateful to the Mike Lalaeff Estate for this generous contribution."
“Adding women’s golf to our intercollegiate athletic program is exciting and noteworthy given that the majority of Purdue Calumet students are female,” Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas L. Keon added. “It also is important to note that the fiscal support for this program—for which we are greatly appreciative—comes from a gift provided by friends of Mike Lalaeff.”
The contributions supporting both golf teams, an annual invitational tournament and scholarships all honor Lalaeff – a Hammond resident who was a pillar of the golf community in Northwest Indiana. The former teacher and 1966 Hammond-Times Calumet District amateur golf tournament champion competed on the Indiana University golf team and was inducted into the Hammond Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mike Lalaeff grew up and returned to be a grade school teacher in the Calumet Region. His only departure from his home was military service followed by college at Indiana University-Bloomington.
The Fischers believe if Mike was a high school student today in northwest Indiana, he would be looking at schools like Purdue Calumet. An academically excellent education, affordability and the opportunity to participate in college golf would be high priorities and Purdue Calumet would be a perfect fit, they said. Furthermore, offering opportunities for women to participate in athletics to improve their futures just enhances the gift from the Lalaeff estate.
The men’s golf team witnessed outstanding improvements since its inaugural season in 2010, breaking the school record for team single round (298) in this fall’s Mike Lalaeff Tournament en route to a third-place finish. The Peregrines finished seventh at the CCAC championships last fall and had their best-ever finish in 2013, placing fifth.