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Gophers' M Club Hall of Fame awaits Rochester's (Shaughnessy) Ferris and Red Wing's Pohl

Jenny (Shaughnessy) Ferris will be inducted into the University of Minnesota athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 15-16. Ferris, a Lourdes graduate who swam for John Marshall in high school, was an all-American swimmer with the Gophers.

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Jenny (Shaughnessy) Ferris prepares to dive off the blocks at the start of a race when she swam for the University of Minnesota. Ferris competed for the Gophers from 2005-09.
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The most consistent contact that Jenny (Shaughnessy) Ferris has these days with a body of water happens just shy of bedtime. That’s when she heads into her Boulder, Colo., home’s upstairs bathroom and gives her three young boys their baths.

These are different times for the 35-year-old Ferris, one of the best swimmers Rochester has ever produced and one who on Friday will be inducted into the University of Minnesota M Club Hall of Fame.

Ferris is one of 13 being inducted, former Red Wing and Gophers hockey star John Pohl and former swimming teammate Jillian Tyler among the others.

“I didn’t see this coming,” said Ferris, whose final season swimming with Minnesota was in 2008-09. “We’ve been really busy here; having just had our third baby three months ago.”

The college career that Ferris put together at Minnesota indicates she likely should have seen this honor coming. The Rochester Lourdes graduate, who swam in high school for John Marshall, was that good.

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As a senior, Ferris won four events in the Big Ten Championships, including the 200 and 400 individual medleys. It was enough for her to be named the 2009 Swimmer of the Championships. Ferris was also a 12-time All-American and won eight Big Ten titles. She finished her career with six school records and held the Big Ten mark in the 200 freestyle.

Ferris didn’t sneak onto the Minnesota swimming scene. She was well known before showing up at the Minneapolis campus after winning five state titles at John Marshall.

But she says she certainly made the right pick in choosing the Gophers. Ferris credits the Minnesota coaches, her fellow swimmers and divers and the culture that existed in the program for bringing out her best.
Those were golden times for Ferris, who graduated with a degree in physical therapy.

“I’ve got so many memories there, and I think the further that I’m removed from it, the more appreciation I have for the whole experience,” said Ferris, who as a mother of three young children, finds little time for swimming these days. “I am so grateful for the opportunities I had in college, and I know how unique they were.”

The people were the best part for Ferris.

She says she hit the jackpot with her coaches, including current head coach Kelly Kremer.

“They were fantastic,” said Ferris, who stayed a fifth year at Minnesota and worked as a volunteer assistant coach with them. “They were so professional and talented. They were the reason that I chose to stay and go to school at Minnesota.”

But it was her teammates who made things most special for her. They were her oasis at Minnesota, a group that understood and did everything with each other.

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“I just loved doing what I did for those four years,” she said. “It was incredible some of the friendships that I made during my years there. Entering a big university can be overwhelming. But having teammates and our own little (swim team) group made it special and made it feel more like home.”

Asked to name her favorite season at Minnesota, Ferris goes with 2008.

The Gophers won the Big Ten title that year. Being conference champions had been a stated goal for a while for that team. So, when it came to fruition, her Gophers erupted.

“That is my favorite memory,” Ferris said. “To do that with the entire team was incredible. We’d been really working toward that all year and we really thought we could do it. When it all came together, and we won, we all jumped into the pool together. And then we were all exhausted and slept a lot.”

Pohl to join wife in Hall

In many Minnesota households, being selected to your college’s athletic hall of fame would be a crowning career achievement. In the home that John Pohl and Krissy Wendell-Pohl share with their three daughters, it was a pretty average Monday when the announcement came last month that John, the Minnesota Gophers captain on their 2002 NCAA title team, has been named to the school’s M Club Hall of Fame.

Krissy — a prep, college and Olympic star — was given that honor nearly 10 years ago, as is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as well.

“I joke with people that if there’s a hall of fame, she’s already in it,” John said. “So this is a special thing for our family to understand that not just mom gets to be in halls of fame. Other people can, too.”

Now 43, Pohl retired from hockey more than a decade ago after 115 NHL games. He is now the athletic director at Hill-Murray High School. He came to the Gophers in 1998 for Doug Woog’s final season as their head coach after winning a state prep title at Red Wing.

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In 28 games each season as a Red Wing sophomore, junior and senior, Pohl put up 99, 111 and 107 points respectively, and finished his time as a Winger by being named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey. As a college freshman, Pohl’s game was average. Then Woog was dismissed, and Don Lucia was hired. It was considered by some a necessary reset for the Gophers program, and Pohl’s game flourished. He led the Gophers offensively as a sophomore and as a senior.

John and the other members of this year’s M Club Hall of Fame class will be officially honored at the Gophers’ home football game Saturday versus Colorado. It is almost certain that Krissy (M Club Hall of Fame, class of 2013) will be by his side, with their children.

“I need Red Wing High School to start a hall of fame,” John joked. “That way I could say to the kids, ‘this is the hall of fame that dad’s in that there’s no way mom can get in.’”

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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