These days, he’s Mike Gonzalez — finance whiz, former company CEO and current president of South Carolina’s Secession Golf Club.
But around here, he’s still known by his one-word alias.
“While I fondly recall shooting pool at DeLuxe or in the Union basement, my most vivid memories stem from my time while serving as the university’s symbol, Chief Illiniwek,” says Chief XXI (BS ’77, finance).
“The two main performance venues were important: Memorial Stadium, where I occasionally hosted Al Craven at a game, the ‘White Raven’ from Dr. Bob & The Headliners fame, and the old Assembly Hall, where I found myself killing a half-hour backstage one-on-one with Faye Dunaway after a J. Geils Band concert.
“But the Armory really stands out for me. From home to DKH or Comm West, the Armory served as a winter respite from bone-chilling cold and winds along the way. It seemed to be a city unto itself, always active and vibrant.
“This is where I prepared for a long season of summer slo-pitch softball by working out with Lee Eilbracht and his baseball Illini each spring and this is where I learned ‘The Dance.’ For five weeks in the spring of 1974 this was my home for two hours each day as my predecessor as Chief, John Bitzer, prepared me both physically and mentally for the role.
“Some alums will undoubtedly recall, as they ambled by on their way to class, the sounds of the ‘Three-in-One’ echoing thru the building as I navigated my way down the rubberized surface of that imaginary football field. That Armory experience surely changed the trajectory of my Illinois experience and my life.”