Leaving Their Mark: Previous Illini Athletes Jill and Kelly Mark Make Long lasting Impact on Alma Mater

Leaving Their Mark: Previous Illini Athletes Jill and Kelly Mark Make Long lasting Impact on Alma Mater

By Mike Pearson

Count Kelly and Jill Mark amid the University of Illinois varsity alumni who’ve stepped ahead and specified again to their alma mater.

Because of their generous reward, a particular portion of the expanded Ubben Basketball Facility will before long be recognized as the Mark Relatives Women’s Locker Area and Group Lounge.

Jill Estey action&#13
Jill (Estey) Mark dished out a plan-record 550 assists 
throughout her time competing for the Battling Illini.  

When asked why they resolved to give back, Kelly, a previous walk-on runner and hurdler with Illinois’ observe & area crew, and Jill, a file-environment position guard for UI’s women’s basketball software, required to give to the spot wherever it all began for them and hopefully spur on other people to pay it ahead and give back to Illinois.

The former Jill Estey was recruited to the College of Illinois from Plymouth Salem Higher Faculty in Michigan in the late 1980s by then coach Laura Golden, and concluded her occupation in 1993 under the direction of mentor Kathy Lindsey. She greatly appreciates what equally females did for her during her profession.

“I picked Illinois for the excellent engineering plan and the option to perform for Coach Golden at a best athletic institution. I was lucky for the duration of my basketball profession to have good supportive coaches in Coach Golden and Coach Lindsey.” 

It was that earth-course schooling as a mechanical engineering major that aided Jill land a career at the Ford Motor Corporation in her indigenous condition. Presently, Jill spends her time handling her web layout small business in Chicagoland—Jill Mark Design—specializing in modest business enterprise and own internet websites.

On the courtroom, she carried out spectacularly, handing out a document 550 assists so that teammates like Mandy Cunningham, Sarah Sharp and Kris Dupps could score baskets.

It was Jill’s basketball skills that initially caught her long run husband’s eye. Kelly tells the story.

Kelly Mark head shot&#13
Kelly Mark in the course of his time on
the Illini track & discipline staff. 

“Soon after a (observe) exercise, some teammates and I went about to IMPE to participate in basketball,” he claimed. “On the previous court, the women’s basketball staff was playing a decide on-up sport in opposition to a bunch of fellas. I observed Jill participate in for 5 minutes and advised a good friend subsequent to me ‘You see that woman…I want to marry her.’ About a thirty day period afterwards, we met at a sorority/fraternity mixer at Joe’s Bar just before the Ohio State football video game in 1991…and the relaxation was heritage.”

Kelly, a products of Batavia Superior School, understood the price of his schooling as a company advertising and marketing big, but he maintains that athletics was the main of who he was.

“I was a child who arrived in and busted my ass, labored as really hard as I could to try out to be good, but hardly ever definitely obtained to the varsity degree,” he reported. “Athletics is a incredible trainer for existence in regard to remaining knocked down and receiving back again up, currently being coached, discovering from your faults and concentrating on advancement. It’s normally been a main of who Jill and I are.”

Immediately after earning his MBA from Harvard College, Kelly joined Motorola where by he most lately oversaw the firm’s world-wide solutions and software program small business. This earlier summer, he retired right after 22 several years, allowing for him to devote additional time with Jill and the family as their kids go to faculty, traveling and savoring the outdoor.

When somebody asks Kelly exactly where he went to college, a tour of his workplace displays the satisfaction he has for the College of Illinois. “Illinois is what issues. That is what begun us. That was the cauldron that produced our family members and almost everything we have reached together in daily life.”

Kelly and Jill Mark cheered on the 1993 Illini football team to victory at Michigan.&#13
Kelly and Jill Mark cheering on the 1993
Illini football crew to victory at Michigan.

Jill claims she’s grateful that she and her spouse can assist a minimal in bettering the expertise of long run Illini women’s basketball players with their gift.

“We desired to do one thing that was memorable to us,” she explained. “Getting able to give back again to the program that gave me so much suggests a large amount. Back again then, we did not have nearly anything shut to the services that they have now. With any luck ,, our reward will make it possible for athletes the possibility to be in an environment that is supportive and to knowledge a thing that most individuals will never be in a position to knowledge.”

Kelly and Jill always inform their children, Sydney and Ryan, to “Dream Big…Never Adhere to.  It is the way we have tried out to are living our lifetime.”

“You have got to go for the items that you definitely want and enjoy in lifestyle. The College of Illinois gave us the option to aspiration large and never ever comply with. It set the phase for our existence. We just motivate anyone to seem back again and comprehend what school did to set them up in their daily life. we identify that and that’s why we gave back. We just want other folks to have the very same chance to do what we have been ready to do in our daily life.”

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