Tjeerdsmas Named Northwest Homecoming Parade Grand Marshals

Tailgating Bearcat Football Sept. 15, 2018. (Todd Weddle | Northwest Missouri State University
Tailgating Bearcat Football Sept. 15, 2018. (Todd Weddle | Northwest Missouri State University

(From Northwest Athletics)

MARYVILLE, Mo. – Mel and Carol Tjeerdsma, who have dedicated a combined 39 years of service to Northwest Missouri State University and played instrumental roles in the University’s academic and athletics success, will serve as the University’s Homecoming parade grand marshals.

The grand marshal is selected by a committee of students and advisors serving on the Homecoming executive board.

“We chose Mel and Carol because they have inspired, mentored and motivated many students, athletes and colleagues on campus,” Amy Nally, an assistant director and Homecoming advisor in Northwest’s Office of Student Involvement, said. “They have had the ability to mentor students and assist them to achieve their goals academically, athletically and to develop them into better men and women. They will long be held in high regard at Northwest for all they have given to our institution.”

Mel Tjeerdsma retired last spring as Northwest’s director of athletics, a role he served in for five years. In that time, Northwest captured four NCAA Division II national championships, 11 MIAA regular season titles and six MIAA tournament titles. During 2016-17, the Bearcats became the first institution in NCAA Division II history to win both a football and men’s basketball national championship in the same academic year.

Before that, Tjeerdsma was the head coach of the Bearcat football program from 1994 to 2010, elevating it to one of the greatest in the history of Division II. Under his leadership, the Bearcats won back-to-back national championships in 1998 and 1999. Northwest added its third championship in 2009, capping an unprecedented run of five national title game appearances that began in 2005. Tjeerdsma led the Bearcats to a 183-43 record and captured 12 MIAA titles during his coaching tenure at the University.

Tjeerdsma, who earned numerous individual accolades and is a member of several halls of fame, will be inducted into two more this fall. Northwest will induct Tjeerdsma into its M-Club Hall of Fame during the Homecoming weekend, and he will be one of three coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation in December in New York.

Carol Tjeerdsma retired from Northwest in the summer of 2011 as an instructor of curriculum and instruction. After arriving at Northwest with her husband in 1994, she became an integral part of what was known then as the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, teaching special education and general education courses. She was chair of the former College of Education and Human Services’ Diversity Team, coordinated volunteer projects and served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nodaway County.

“The thing that I’m excited about is that it includes Carol,” Mel said of the coupe being named grand marshals. “She put in 17 years here and she left her imprint on the education department and especially special education, and she continues to work with that.”

Mel Tjeerdsma also played a key role in numerous facility upgrades on the Northwest campus, including improvements to Bearcat Stadium and the creation of the Harr Athletic Success Center. He also helped envision and cultivate support for the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse, which opens with a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, to mark the completion of the single largest public-private partnership in the University’s history.

“We could draw all the pictures we wanted, you could look at all the drawings and you could look at all the dimensions, but until you actually step inside of it with the field in there and the track, you don’t realize what you really have,” he said.

As grand marshals, the Tjeerdsmas will lead the parade, which begins at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, at the corner of Ray and College avenues and proceeds east on Fourth Street, ending at Fourth and Main streets.

Northwest’s 2018 Homecoming week – “The Greatest Show at Northwest!” – begins Oct. 7, with the hanging of the banners at the J.W. Jones Student Union, and the festivities conclude Monday, Oct. 15, with the presentation of awards in the Charles Johnson Theater. Events are open to all Northwest students, alumni, faculty, staff, families, friends and community members. For more information, visit