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August 12, 2020

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Meet this year's ONU Athlete Hall of Fame inductees

Danielle (Noe) Otte, Diana (Smith) Schnipke, Richard Bowersock, James O'Brien

The Ohio Northern University Athletic Hall of Fame inducted four new members during recent ceremonies over Homecoming at the University.

The inductees in the fall 2019 class are:
• Danielle (Noe) Otte of Maria Stein, Ohio, a 2009 graduate who majored in exercise physiology and competed in track and field
• Diana (Smith) Schnipke of Menomonee Falls, Wis., a 2007 graduate who majored in molecular biology and competed in both soccer and basketball
• Richard Bowersock of Wapakoneta, a 1975 graduate who majored in health and physical education and played baseball and basketball
• James O'Brien of Carey, a 2009 graduate who majored in mechanical engineering and competed in both track and field and cross country

Click here for the all-time list of inductees -

Danielle (Noe) Otte earned numerous national and conference accolades while an ONU student-athlete. She was a three-time national qualifier, once in the 4 x 400 relay and twice in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing 11th nationally as a hurdler in 2009. Otte was twice named Academic All-American.

Also, she was an Ohio Athletic Conference champion in both the indoor and outdoor 4 x 400 relay and twice in the 400-meter hurdles. In all, Otte was a 12-time All-OAC selection and the OAC Outdoor Sprinter of the Year as a senior in 2009. Further, she was a member of the indoor and outdoor OAC team champions in 2009.

Beyond her track exploits, Otte was a member of the marching band and woodwind ensemble. She was also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and Phi Epsilon Kappa professional fraternity.

After graduating from ONU, Otte earned a master's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She has worked as an occupational therapist in Oregon, Ohio, and at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

She has also served as assistant coach for the girls' track team at La Crosse (Wis.) High School, which was state runner-up in 2011. Otte graduated from Woodmore High School in Elmore, Ohio. She and her husband, Jeff, a 2009 ONU graduate, have two children.

Diana (Smith) Schnipke etched her name in ONU's women's soccer record book. When she graduated, Schnipke was third in career goals, 53; fourth in career points, 132; and fifth in career assists, 26.

Further, she led the team in goals and total points all four years, from 2003-06, and led the team or tied for the team-high in assists each year. She earned the prestigious Ohio Athletic Conference Clyde Lamb Award, was All-OAC four years, OAC Forward of the Year as a senior and second-team all-region three years.

Schnipke was Academic All-OAC as a senior and honorable mention her junior season. She was a four-year letter-winner and two-year co-captain. Schnipke set single-game records for most points (9) and goals (4) and holds the record for most career hat tricks (7). She also played on the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams for two years.

Beyond athletics, she was a member of the Society of Success and Leadership and the Professional Association of Women in Science, as well as a biology tutor.

She later earned a master's degree in genetic counseling from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Schnipke is currently a medical information liaison at Myriad Genetic Laboratories.

Accomplished in her field, Schnipke has co-authored several abstracts, presented at national meetings, given invited presentations and lectures, received a number of awards, and has been the primary investigator or co-investigator for grants from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Schnipke graduated from Fort Jennings (Ohio) High School. She and her husband, Rick, have one child. 

Richard Bowersock was a four-year letterman in baseball. As a pitcher and shortstop in baseball, he was a member of the 1974 team that participated in the World Series of Small Colleges. That team also won the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, as well as the NCAA Division II Mideast Regional Championship.

He graduated as the ONU baseball record-holder for most wins and lowest ERA in a season, and he made the top 10 in career ERA while racking up more than 100 strikeouts. 

Bowersock was a team captain his senior year. He later earned a teaching degree in science from Wright State University and a master's degree in school counseling from the University of Dayton. Bowersock pursued a career as a school counselor and varsity basketball coach, accumulating more than 200 wins.

He coached at Spencerville High School for seven seasons and was twice named Northwest Conference Coach of the Year and once District Coach of the Year. He coached at Wapakoneta High School for 11 years and was named Western Buckeye League Coach of the Year in 1995.

Bowersock also implemented and coached the women's basketball program at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio. During his early years in education, Rick implemented the elementary physical education and guidance programs at Spencerville and Wapakoneta City Schools.

Bowersock graduated from Wapakoneta High School. He and his wife, Kristine, have two grown children and six grandchildren.

James O'Brien was a national-caliber athlete as a runner for the Polar Bears. During his college career, O'Brien was an eight-time track and field All-American, including five times as an outdoor athlete and three times during the indoor season.

He was also a two-time cross country All-American and held nine school records upon graduation. While an ONU student, O'Brien was also active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

He remained active after graduating from ONU, running for the Indiana Invaders from 2010-12. He was a three-time USATF national indoor championship qualifier, finishing fourth in 2011, and he also qualified for the outdoor championship once.

O'Brien is a design engineer at National Machinery in Tiffin, Ohio, a position he has held since 2011. O'Brien graduated from Eastwood High School in Pemberville, Ohio. He and his wife, Tracey, have two children.

Induction requirements
For induction into ONU's Athletic Hall of Fame, an individual must have made great contributions through athletic performance at the University or meritorious efforts made on behalf of the University.

Athletes must have attended ONU at least 10 years ago. All nominees must demonstrate good citizenship at both ONU and beyond, and serve the athletics program in any capacity that contributes to the overall program.