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Donnel Thompson honored, humbled to be part of Wisconsin's 2024 Hall of Fame class

MADISON – Donnel Thompson captured the moment beautifully in describing the emotions he experienced upon learning he was part of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame class for 2024.

“The Hall of Fame,” Thompson, a standout linebacker on UW’s 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl teams, said during a ceremony Wednesday inside Victory Hall at Camp Randall Stadium. “Wisconsin. Athletic. Hall. Of. Fame.”

UW on Wednesday announced the 12-member class that is set to be inducted Sept. 6.

“I was floored,” Thompson, a graduate of Madison West High School who joined the UW program as a walk-on. “Humbled and honored.

“You think about the names.…”

Donnel Thompson (44), a Madison West graduate, was a standout linebacker on Wisconsin's 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl teams.
Donnel Thompson (44), a Madison West graduate, was a standout linebacker on Wisconsin's 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl teams.

Thompson, 46, rattled off the names of several football players in UW’s Hall of Fame: Al Toon. Troy Vincent. Joe Panos. Joe Thomas. Chris McIntosh. Aaron Gibson.

“You’re mentioned in their breath,” he said. “A kid from Madison. It’s pretty shocking. It’s one of those moments.…

“It’s hard work. It’s preparation. It’s responding to adversity. All those things culminate, to me, in exceptional leadership.

“And that’s what I take away from this entire experience. … Which produces sustained success and that is what you experience at Wisconsin.”

UW’s full 2024 class follow.

Contemporary-era athletes (after 1974)

Adam Burish (hockey, 2002-2006); James Dunkleberger (track & field, 1994-1997); Mark Laporte (soccer, 1979-1982); Gina Panighetti (swimming, 1996-2000); Marija Neubauer (tennis, 1990-94); Meaghan Reid (hockey, 2004-2007); Alex Rigsby Cavallini (hockey, 2010-2014); Tarek Saleh (football, 1993-1996); Donnel Thompson (football, 1996-1999).

Heritage-era (before 1974)

John Jagger (hockey, 1967-1971).

Coaches/administration

Pete Waite (volleyball) and Herb Kohl (special service).

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame 2024 class features 12 familiar names