The Huskie Athletic Fund is launching its vision for the upcoming project, the 1899 Club, an approximately $4 million multi-use facility that is the next step in fulfilling Northern Illinois University Athletics' commitment to provide enhanced nutritional services for NIU student-athletes in the form of a training table. The name references the initial year that NIU competed in intercollegiate athletics.

"The time is now," said Sean T. Frazier, NIU vice president and director of athletics and recreation. "Internally, we have talked about this project for a while. We are thrilled to unveil a plan to provide training table space for many of our student-athletes, while also allowing for expansion to our Student-Athlete Academic Support Services area."

Designed to build off of and expand on the Northwestern Medicine Sports Performance Center and the Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni Association of NIU Nutrition Center which opened in June 2019 and services all NIU student-athletes, the 1899 Club will initially provide training table meals for the NIU football, volleyball and basketball teams and will expand to additional programs.

"Obviously the opportunity to provide our players with a proper training table really elevates our program," said NIU head coach Thomas Hammock. "We hope this project is one that a lot of people can get behind because it impacts programs – and most importantly, student-athletes - beyond football. We're excited to see NIU take this initial step toward making this a reality."

Like Hammock, Huskie basketball coaches Lisa Carlsen and Rashon Burno are looking forward to the impact the 1899 Club will have on their programs.

"The addition of a training table space for our athletes to really extend access for their nutritional needs is a game changer," said Carlsen. "We have made so many great enhancements over the past few years when it comes to nutrition. This is another huge step. Thanks to Sean and the administration for continuing to give our student-athletes the resources needed to compete for championships."

"The 1899 Club will be a huge benefit for our student-athletes in providing them with the fuel needed to excel at a high level," said Burno. "I'm thankful to our administration for its commitment to this project which will help all of our teams compete at the top of the MAC."

Melissa Burin, who joined the NIU Athletics staff in August 2023 as director of sports nutrition, said that adding the capabilities of a fully developed training table will allow her and her staff to further educate student-athletes on the ways nutrition contributes to their development as athletes.

"Instituting a training table, along with the already Northwestern Medicine Sports Performance Center and the Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni Association of NIU Nutrition Center, is a wonderful opportunity to further educate our student-athletes about the fuel they are putting in their bodies to better train, prepare for competition and aid in their recovery."

First-year volleyball head coach Sondra Parys believes the addition of a training table will make an impact on recruiting and supports one of her program's core values – alignment – which includes training student-athletes to honor all aspects of their health.

"I firmly believe putting our complete wellness first will ultimately put our players in the best position to succeed on and off the court, and having a training table will be a great resource for them," Parys said. "It will also be a recruiting tool for us to continue to bring in the right student-athletes who understand the importance of complete wellness."

When not in use for team meals, the 1899 Club will allow NIU's Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) unit to increase its footprint. The proximity of the space to current SAASS offices and study areas in the Yordon Center can be used for additional tutoring and small group meetings.

"We are excited to be able to expand our academic space and be able to host additional workshops, presentations, tutoring and academic coaching sessions in this space," said Randi Napientek, senior associate athletic director for SAASS. "We are grateful to our Huskie family for continuing to give our student-athletes the tools they need to succeed."

Beyond the day-to-day operations of the 1899 Club, the space can also be utilized as a gathering place for former letterwinners, recruits and other groups on football gamedays as NIU looks to expand its efforts to engage former Huskie student-athletes.

The 1899 Club is one of the facility projects included in the seventh annual Huskies Invest: A Week of Giving, which will be held October 23-27, 2023, with this year's goal set at $1 million. Donors can support facility projects like the 1899 Club, specific sports programs or departments, NIU spirit groups and recreation, or provide much-needed unrestricted gifts to the Huskie Athletic Fund. The donation portals are open now. Visit to support NIU student-athletes today or call the Huskie Athletic Fund at 815-753-1923.