The John J. Schommer Honor I Award is awarded to alumni who excelled in both leadership and performance as student athletes at Illinois Institute of Technology and who also went on to achieve significant success after graduation.
B.S. Management (’80), Illinois Institute of Technology; M.B.A. (’10), University of Central Florida
In 1979 Krygier was Illinois Tech’s first individual runner to win a Chicago Collegiate Athletics Conference Championship. He became the first Illinois Tech student-athlete to compete in national championships three years straight, setting a university record for the 8-kilometer race that remained for 29 years. While Krygier achieved his greatest successes in cross-country, his college athletics scholarship was also for swimming, and he competed in both sports for four years, setting four swim records. In 1979 Krygier became the first Illinois Tech student-athlete to be invited by the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete in the National Sports Festival (NSF), where his four-man pentathlon team won the gold medal. The NSF was a precursor for athletes looking to make the following year’s Olympic team; however, the United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and Krygier's Olympic dreams were never realized.
As a high school student Krygier was interested in biomedical engineering. He sent letters listing his high school running and swimming times to the athletic directors of the 10 American universities that had biomedical engineering programs at that time; only swim coach Dennis Matuch of Illinois Tech replied. After Krygier graduated from the university, he became a coach and led Illinois Tech cross-country to its first conference championship as a team.
Krygier served in both vice president and general manager roles of joint ventures between national banks and real estate companies before transitioning to health care finance. His experiences as an athlete have helped him in business. “Athletes are often good professionals because they understand that passion is the intersection between your mind and your heart,” Krygier says. “Passion will ignite the commitment, fuel the hard work, and provide the perseverance to succeed.”
Krygier was nominated by his daughter, Valerie, who sought his training in running after stress fractures halted her first attempt to become a United States Marine Corps officer. A concussion derailed her second attempt, but perseverance resulted in success on the third try. Krygier also trained his son, Garrett, who was not a competitive swimmer, to qualify within four months to join the U.S. Navy as a rescue swimmer.
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