MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The Northern Michigan University Sports Hall of Fame will induct four new members on Saturday, April 26, in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center. The event will once again be held in conjunction with the Student-Athlete Awards Banquet. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. and program will follow.
The third inductee into the class of 2014 is Shana (Decremer) Ojala who was a two-year letter winner and competed for the NMU women’s basketball team from 1995-97.
Ojala transferred to Northern Michigan after playing the first two seasons of her collegiate career at Michigan Technological University. Ojala led the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship Elite 8 during her first season with the squad.
That year, she was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a 25-5 record and scoring a team high 474 points. She was also named to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference All-Defensive team.
The following season, Ojala again led the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship while pacing NMU in scoring with 583 points and rebounding with 225. Her scoring total is the seventh most points scored in a single season by a NMU women’s basketball player.
Following her stellar senior season, Ojala was named a First Team All-American and Player of the Year in the GLIAC. She also earned First Team All-GLIAC honors. She was named to the GLIAC All-Defensive team and selected the Wildcats’ Most Valuable Player.
Ojala became the 12th player in NMU school history to score 1,000 career points, finishing her career with 1,057, and was only the third player to achieve that feat in just two years.
In 2008, Ojala was named to the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame joining her grandfather, Ben Manning, who was inducted into the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 when Ojala was 14.
“It is pretty special because my kids are old enough to know what it means for me to be named to the NMU Sports Hall of Fame,” said Ojala. “We have looked at the plaques on the wall in the Superior Dome together and that makes it special to me because they are there with me, by my side.”
Following her playing career, Ojala returned to the floor in a different capacity and has officiated women’s basketball for 12 years on the high school level and four years on the collegiate level.
“I have been lucky to continue to be involved in the game through officiating,” said Ojala. “It is great to be able to see the players when I officiate the NMU women’s games. The best part of officiating is watching the players develop as the years pass.”
When asked about her playing career, head coach Troy Mattson said “Shana was a fierce competitor and true winner on the basketball court.”
“Shana is the most competitive person I have ever met. The statistics she posted during her career at NMU speak to that,” said Ojala’s NMU teammate Karla (Strand) McCutcheon. “I'm so glad that she was on my team and that I didn't have to play against her. She is the fiercest competitor I have ever been associated with. Her actions in the locker room, practice, and even during post-season play shows that she was one who brought it "every day." For that I along with all of her teammates held her at the highest regard.”
“I’ve always regarded Shana as one of the hardest-working collegiate women’s basketball players I’ve ever seen,” commented Craig Remsburg of the Mining Journal. “What she may have lacked in talent — which wasn’t much, since she was so good — she made up for with her desire. She didn’t yield an inch to anyone on the court. I’ve also seen her as a high school and college basketball referee. She’s talented in that part of the game, as well.”
Ojala is a native of Trout Creek and was a graduate of Ewen-Trout Creek High School. Ojala has 13-year-old twin sons, Matthew and Travis, who she describes as the “highlight of her life.”
Tickets for the evening are $20 for adults. They can be purchased at the NMU Superior Dome Ticket Office or by calling 906-227-1032. The Sports Hall of Fame and Student-Athlete Awards Banquet is sponsored by Superior Oasis, Hit Trophy and Downtown Eye Care.