Hall of Fame Inductees

Directory of West Aurora Blackhawks Sportsbooster's Hall of Fame Inductees

Rich Becker

Class of 1990

(Hall of Fame Class of 2009)

Richard (Rich) Becker, Class of 1990, was one of West Aurora’s most exceptional baseball players ever to play at West Aurora High School. In fact during his high school career he was also a standout football player as well as a baseball star.

Rich’s outstanding baseball career statistics make him one of the all time leaders in almost all pitching and hitting records in West Aurora baseball history. For example, Rich is the all-time leader in career runs scored (102), slugging percentage for a season, and stolen bases(49). He led the team to a 66-22-2 record during his three varsity seasons, batting .420 and compiling a pitching record of 20-4. For his achievements Rich was a first team All Conference selection in 1990, the team’s Most Valuable Player, and named to the All State team by the Tribune and Sun Times.

Rich was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1990 amateur draft and 85th pick overall. He made his major league debut that year, appearing in 3 games with 7 at bats, getting 2 hits. After several trips between the major and minor leagues, Rich’s first full year with the Twins was in 1995. In 1996, Rich preceded Kirby Puckett as the Twins’ starting center fielder and had his best year as a major leaguer, batting .291 with 12 home runs, 79 RB1, and 19 stolen bases. Rich was traded to the New York Mets in 1997 and played with other Major League Baseball teams in the next five years including the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, and Detroit Tigers.

At the end of the 2002 season, Rich retired. After 13 seasons in professional baseball, He finished his major league career having appearing in 789 games with 2,227 at bats, 570 base hits, including 45 home runs with a .256 batting average.

His minor league numbers for 770 games reflected 2,851 at bats, 821 hits, including 75 home runs and a .287 batting average. As a point of distinction, Rich was the only player to come out of the 3rd round of the 1990 draft and sustain any sort of long-term career.

Rich presently is a firefighter in North Ft. Myers, Florida and resides in Cape Coral, Florida with his wife and three children.


Carol Bell

Teacher / Coach / Assistant A.D. 1972 - 2004

(Hall of Fame Class of 2010)

Carol Bell has been and continues to be an integral part of the Athletic Department at West Aurora, and the success of our athletic programs have been achieved, in no small part, through her dedication to and affinity for her Blackhawks!

Carol Attended WIU on a full scholarship for her baton twirling talents, featured as the WIU “Silver Girl”. She graduated in ’68 with a BA in Health & Physical Education; continuing her studies at NIU where she received her Masters in Physical Education in ’75. Carol taught for 35 years, 32 at West Aurora High School, until her “retirement” in 2004. (Those who know Carol understand why “retirement” is in quotes!!!) During that tenure, she served as PE Department Chairperson for 26 years, Assistant Athletic Director for 10 years, and coached swimming and gave private baton lessons. Carol also served as meet manager for countless cross country, bowling and track events and many other invitationals and tournaments. In her “spare” time, Carol assisted her husband-coach, John Bell, with his responsibilities at Waubonsee Community College where he coaches cross-country and tennis. She also served in numerous capacities for IEA/NEA, AEAW, ISBE as well as committees at the district, conference, regional and state levels.

Through all her hard work and dedication, Carol has earned the respect of her peers as evidenced by her many awards, recognitions, and positions held…

Illinois Athletic Director’s Association “Friend of Athletics” Award 2005-2006
1994 Golden Apple Award Recipient
Nominee for the Kane County Educator of the Year
Charter member of the National Baton Hall of Fame
Board of Directors for the Aurora Sharks Swim Team
Judge for national baton competitions across the country
Co-Director of the National Baton Twirlers Association
Co-Director of the World Baton Corp Championship Competitions

Carol is a master juggler, shifting her attention and focus from one task to another to another… not missing a beat. To see her in action can be a tiring experience. Yet, she attends to every detail, takes on whatever responsibility to insure that the task at hand is completed. She does so with such enthusiasm and drive that she truly has been an inspiration to all around her. Her passion has been education; she has devoted her life to West Aurora. Whether that education occurred in the classroom, on the playing field, or with the baton, you will find no other educator that has dedicated so much time, energy and heart into what she believes is a life-long journey.

Carol married her husband John, in 1968 and moved to Aurora in 1970, teaching at West Aurora for a combined 66 years. They have two children, Sean (Sue) Bell, and Michelle (Bryan) Mann, and six grandchildren, Brendon, Riley, Reese, Griffin, Finley and Matthew.


Brian Brooks

Class of 1973, Coach

(Hall of Fame Class of 2013)

Brian Brooks is a member of the West High Class of 1973. He played on the varsity tennis team for three years when he was at West and in 1973 played doubles in the state tournament. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and later received his master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

Upon his college graduation, Brian became a teacher and coach in School District 129, serving for 33 years at the high school level. He taught physical education and driver’s education and coached freshman boys’ level basketball from 1978 through 1988. An outstanding teacher, he was recognized by his peers for his dedication and work with classes of Adaptive Physical Education and received a Golden Apple Award from the district in 2009.

For 34 years Brian served as an outstanding tennis coach for West Aurora High School. He was the head Boys’ coach for 17 years (from 1980-1996) and the head Girls’ coach for 15 years (1997-2011). Over 32 years his teams compiled a 415-134-3 record, winning 16 conference titles and 24 sectional championships. From 1996-2000 his teams won 82 consecutive dual meets.

In 1996 he assisted the tennis team to the first Girls’ state championship for West Aurora. The following year, 1997, he coached the tennis team to a second state championship and was voted “Coach of the Year” by the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association.

His tennis teams finished in the top four in the state seven times and 16 times finished in the top 10. His top players won 36 state finalist medals. More than 40 of his athletes have gone on to play college tennis. In 2004 he was recognized by the IHSA as “Coach of the Year.”

Brian is a certified tennis instructor with the United States Professional Tennis Association and has been a teaching tennis professional at the Fox Valley Park District’s Vaughan Center for the past 36 years. He also has been the director of tennis at the Aurora Country Club for four years. He has coached the Wrightman Cup tennis team made up of the best girl tennis players from the Northern Illinois area.

Brian and his wife, Mary Kay, have three daughters: Megan, Courtney and Shannon. All three played for West Aurora tennis teams, were all-state players and went on to play for Division I college teams.

Coach Brooks is presently serving as the assistant coach of the Women’s tennis team at Northern Illinois University.


Mark Bushbacker

Class of 1985

(Hall of Fame Class of 2011)

Mark was a three-year varsity letter winner in football. He was All Conference and All Area all three years and Beacon News Defensive Player of the Year his senior year along with Fox Valley Sports Journal All Area Selection. Mark tied the interception record at West with six interceptions. He played receiver, defensive back, and punter with an average of 36.4 yards a punt, 38 receptions for 404 yards, and scored five touchdowns all on pass receptions for 30 points. He was selected to play the North / South Suburban All-Star game and the Illinois High School Coaches Shiners All-Star game.

Mark was a wrestler for three years. His freshman year he wrestled at 145 pounds, his sophomore year at 155 pounds placing 3rd in Regionals and being a Sectional qualifier. Mark’s junior year was a letter winner at 155 pounds with a record of 10-5 before a season ending injury. He also had the fastest pin in 9 seconds that year.

Mark also played baseball for four years. As a freshman he batted .697, as a sophomore was a varsity letter winner as a catcher and batted .299 with 2 home runs. His junior year he batted .259 with 4 home runs, and his senior year batted .311 with 6 home runs. His senior year, Mark was All Conference.

Mark received a football scholarship to Illinois State University. He was a two-year letter winner, Gateway Conference Special Team’s Player of the Week two times. He played against and tackled two NFL Hall of Famers from Oklahoma State University – Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.

Since college, Mark has volunteered for two years as a sophomore football coach and six years as a North Aurora Travel Baseball coach.

He is married to Marcy and has two children, Quinn 17 who his junior year was All Conference, All Area wide receiver football player for Kaneland Knights and Ava who is three years old.

Mark Currently works for Patterson Dental Supplies for the past 14 years where is Director of Human Resources for North America. He lives in Sugar Grove.


Roger Curless

Sports Boosters Finance Director

 

Roger Curless-Blackhawk Sports Boosters

Roger Curless is a graduate of Macomb Senior High School and George Williams College (now Aurora University), where he received a Bachelors and Master’s Degree.  Nearly 30 years of work was spent with a global relocation company, retiring in 2009 as Global Director of Quality and Business Process Improvement.  In 1988 he became a Blackhawk Sports Booster volunteer, joining the Booster Board in 1992, responsible for recruiting volunteers. He served as President of the Sports Boosters from 1995-1999, where support for West Aurora Athletics increased nearly 80%.

Roger is unquestionably one of the most reliable and dedicated members in the history of the Blackhawk Sports Boosters.  Considered by many “the glue that holds the Sports Boosters together,” his leadership and financial guidance has allowed the Blackhawk Sports Boosters to raise over one million dollars for West Aurora Athletics.  Roger has made significant contributions of time and money to capital projects, such as the track, fieldhouse, and stadium turf.   His dedication to detail and unwavering support for West Aurora Athletics have made him irreplaceable to the Blackhawk Sports Boosters and the Athletic Department. For his efforts, he was presented with the “Best in West” award for his sustained contributions to School District 129.  Roger and his wife Mari are the proud parents of four West Aurora graduates: Bill ’87, Rachel ’89, Benjamin ’93, and Jacob ’96.


Nate Eimer

Class of 2001

(Hall of Fame Class of 2017)

Nate Eimer excelled for three years as a varsity standout in both football and basketball.

In football, Nate was a starter at both tight end and linebacker.  The leading receiver on the team in both his junior and senior years, he caught 64 passes for 634 yards and 4 touchdowns. He currently ranks 3rd all-time in receptions in school history and his junior season (32 receptions) is good for 10th all-time in a season. On the defensive side of the ball, Nate accounted for more than 100 tackles and 3 interceptions.   For his efforts, he was named All-Conference each of his three seasons, the only football player to do this during the DVC era.  Nate was also 1st Team All-Area as a junior and senior, Beacon News All-Area Captain as a senior, and a three-time Academic All-State recipient. 

In basketball, Nate was a power forward who was considered a very tough defender and valuable rebounder, playing in 91 games over his three years on the varsity.  During this time, he was a key contributor on teams that compiled a record of 83-11, won the state championship in 2000, and was a quarterfinalist in 2001.  Nate was the leading rebounder during the state tournament run his senior year, leading the Blackhawks downstate with a double-double in the Supersectional vs. St. Charles. 

Nate was not only an outstanding athlete, but he was a recognized leader, serving as captain of both football and basketball teams.  Nate was named to the National Honor Society, and was West Aurora’s Athlete of the Year in 2001.  He earned an athletic scholarship to Division II Edinboro (PA) University to play football. 

At Edinboro he was a four year letterman and team captain as a junior and senior.  During his last three years, he led Edinboro to unprecedented success, winning three consecutive conference titles, the only time that has been done in school history.  He was named Academic All-Region and named Edinboro’s Bill Engh Award winner (most dedicated voted by coaches) and offensive MVP as a senior (voted by teammates).  Nate is the only one to ever receive both awards.

In 2011, he came back to West Aurora to teach in the Diversified Department and serve as the Head Football Coach.  He lives in Aurora with his wife Stephanie and their daughters Gwen and Hadley. 


Jordan Garrison Real

Class of 2000

(Hall of Fame Class of 2016)  

 Jordan was an outstanding multi-sport athlete at West Aurora High School.  She was a four-year varsity letter winner in both volleyball and basketball.

In basketball, Jordan helped lead the 1996-2000 teams to three consecutive DuPage Valley Conference Championship Titles.  During her senior year the 2000 team achieved Conference, Regional, Sectional, and Super Sectional Titles.   The 1999-2000 team also advanced to the Elite Eight State Finals.

She was named to the All-Area teams by the Chicago Sun Times, Kane County Chronicle, Beacon News, and Fox Valley Republican.  Jordan received both DuPage Valley All-Conference and All-Academic honors.  She received the Coca-Cola Beacon News Captain Award.  In 1999-2000 Jordan was named the West Aurora Athlete of the Year.

In volleyball, Jordan also excelled and was a four-year varsity letter winner.  Her accomplishments included being voted Beacon News Player of the Year, DuPage Valley Conference All-Conference team, and Beacon News All-Area team.  She received All-State Special Mention by the Chicago Tribune in 1999.

Following graduation from West Aurora High School, Jordan was awarded a full scholarship to play volleyball at the University of Kansas.  She holds the record for solo blocks in a 4 game match.  Jordan was part of the first Kansas University volleyball team to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Jordan is currently the Facility Manager at the Fox Valley Park District Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora.  She resides in Montgomery with her husband Austin, a former West Aurora Athlete, and her children Ireland and Jackson.


David Heiss

Class of 1980

(Hall of Fame Class of 2010)

David Heiss has made outstanding contributions to the West Aurora boy’s basketball program. Dave played an integral part in the third place finish at the 1980 State Basketball Championship. He was selected as an All-Conference member and his coaches selected him for the team’s “Mr. Clutch” Award at the end of his senior season.

Dave went on to achieve additional success with basketball in this college career at Eastern Wyoming College where he led the NJCAA Region IX in scoring as a sophomore. Dave then transferred to Bemidji State University where he was All-Northern Sun Conference his final two years. In addition, Dave was invited to the Utah Jazz camp and played on the Jazz rookie team that summer.

Dave has continued his involvement in basketball as a coach where his achievements are numerous and noteworthy. Dave has given over 24 years to student-athletes as Head Basketball Coach for Waubonsee Community College. Under his leadership, the Chiefs have become a perennial NJCAA top-20 program and the Skyway Conference has selected him as Coach of the Year 9 times. In 2006, Dave collected his 400th career-coaching win. In the spring of 2009, this service culminated with his induction in to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Dave’s contributions and achievements go well beyond the basketball court. Dave led the development of Waubonsee’s academic support program for its student-athletes. In his role as a coach, Dave is looked upon to lead student-athletes on and off the court and his priority has been to develop the entire “scholar-athlete.”

Dave Heiss earned his Bachelor’s degree in physical education at Bemjdi State and his master’s degree from Chicago State University. He is a full-time faculty member in Waubonsee’s physical education department where he has also service as Waubonsee’s golf coach for the last 16 years. Dave is a life-long Aurora resident and has three children; DJ, Danielle and Demi.


Elvis Hernandez

Class of 1996

(Hall of Fame Class of 2014)

Elvis Hernandez (1996) was a giant on the baseball diamond for the West Aurora Blackhawks. The classical five tool player, who could hit for average, hit for power, run, throw, and field very well, Elvis was the best player to don a Blackhawk uniform in the 1990’s. Elvis holds career records for total hits (128), total bases (221), slugging percentage (.695), and home runs (18). In addition, he has the third highest total of games played (105). Elvis averaged 1.22 hits per game over his varsity career, scored a run in 77% of the games he played, and drove in a run in 79% of the games he played.
Elvis was named to the Upstate Eight’s All-Conference team three times, Beacon News All-Area twice, and was drafted by the California Angels in the 28th round of the 1996 draft. From there Elvis went on to play at the University of Illinois-Chicago where he was named Freshman of the Year within the conference.
In addition to his exploits on the baseball field, Elvis was a three year member of the varsity football squad, reaching the playoffs with the 1994 team.
Elvis currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife Julie and their two children.


Ron Hicks

Class of 1976

(Hall of Fame Class of 2010)

Ron Hicks, a member of the class of 1976, was one of West’s most outstanding basketball players.

Ron was a three-year varsity letter winner under legendary coach John McDougal. He played in 80 games during that time, scoring 63 points as a sophomore center, and was the team leader with 462 points (16.5 p.p.g.) as a junior and 426 points as a senior. His 948 career point total ranks in the all-time top ten of Blackhawk scorers. Ron was also an extremely aggressive and effective rebounder, recording 616 career carom collections, which ranks him in the all-time top 3 of West players.

During his high school career, he was twice unanimously named All Conference. As the leading scorer and rebounder on the 1976 team which finished second in the state, Ron was named to the First Team All State Tournament as well as to the All Chicago Area and All State teams.

After graduating from West High, Ron played college basketball at Northern Illinois University. He finished his college career at Aurora University where he averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds per games. He subsequently played professionally for ten years in Europe.

Returning to the Chicago area, Ron became a college and high school basketball coach. Among his noteworthy positions, he has directed the Illinois Institute of Technology and Triton Community College teams, as well as served on the Walter Payton High School staff.

Currently a businessman in Chicago, Ron was elected to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008. He now joins his brother Matthew (Skip) Hicks (class of 1973) as a member of the West Aurora Sports Hall of Fame.


Joe Howell

Class of 1996

(Hall of Fame Class of 2012)

Joe Howell (’96) was an outstanding three-sport athlete during his four years at West High.  Joe earned three varsity letters in both football and basketball along with two letters in baseball.  Of the three sports, Joe perhaps excelled most on the football fields and goes down in West Aurora football history as one of the best running backs the school has seen.  Joe was an instrumental part of the 1994 football team that to date is the last West Aurora team to make an appearance in the IHSA Football Playoffs.

On the football field, Joe set a number of school records for both single season and career.  To date, he holds the single season rushing record, amassing 1,465 yards on 251 carries.  During his career, he rushed for a record 2,569 yards on 487 carries from 1993 to 1995.  Besides holding the season and career rushing yard records, Joe also holds the record for most total yards accounted for in a season and career with 1,853 yards in 1994 and 3,477 yards in his high school career.  Over his career, Joe scored 28 touchdowns and averages 5.3 yards per carry.  Joe began his sophomore year on the sophomore team before getting promoted early in the season and never looked back.  As a junior and a senior, he was named to the Upstate Eight First Team All-Conference as well as the Beacon News All-Area team.

Joe was also an important member of Gordie Kerkman’s basketball teams in the mid 1990’s.  Joe gained valuable experience as a member of the basketball team as a sophomore that would help the following two years as the basketball team captured regional titles in 1994-1995 and 1995-1996, along with a sectional title in 1995-1996.  In the Spring, Joe also played a pivotal role on the 1995 baseball team that won the Upstate Eight Conference title.

After ending his career at West Aurora, Joe travelled to Illinois Wesleyan University where he played significant time for the Titans as a freshman.  Joe eventually finished his career at Aurora University but his time was cut short due to a leg injury.

Joe has been teaching in the West Aurora School District for 10 years at Lincoln and now Nicholson Elementary.  He has also served as a football coach at West Aurora High School for the past 12 years at both the varsity and sophomore levels.  He currently serves as the head sophomore football coach.  He and his wife, Erica, and their two children presently live in Montgomery.


Danny Iniguez

Class of 1992

(Hall of Fame Class of 2008)

Danny Iniguez, a member of the Class of 1992, has the honor of being the first West Aurora athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for his achievements in the sport of soccer.

While at West High, he was voted All Conference three years in a row, two of them unanimously, and was named to the All Sectional Team. He was the first soccer player for West to be voted to the All Area Team, First Team All State and the All Midwest Team. Danny also started two years on the Prairie State Team which took bronze and silver medals.
He earned a full Division I scholarship to Northern Illinois University, where he played for one year before transferring to Aurora University. At AU, he started every game for three years and received All Conference honors all three years.

In addition to his outstanding play on his high school and college teams, Danny has also starred on a number of metro and suburban league club teams: the Chicago Maroons, Liverpool, Alianza-Peru and Aurora soccer clubs. Over the years he has helped these teams win ten league championships.

Former West head soccer coach Jack Albright, founder of the West High soccer program, believes that Danny might very well be the best soccer player to have represented the school. He wrote “Danny was not only a phenomenal player but was and still is an outstanding person. He has always carried himself with class, dignity, pride and the best of character. Whether in high school or at a higher level, he has always been well-liked and respected by his coaches, teammates and even his opponents.”

Danny has been employed at Dreyer Medical Clinic in Aurora for the past ten years and is currently working in the Management Information Systems department. He married his high school sweetheart, Erika Ugalde, who played soccer on the West High girls’ team. They live on the west side of Aurora, where they are raising their daughters, Freeman first grader Rebeka Lourdes, and two-year-old Katie Marie. Together they hope to carry on the traditions of their inspiring and supportive families.


Leigh Jaffke

Class of 1980

(Hall of Fame Class of 2008)

Kirstine Jensen, Class of 1992, was one of West Aurora’s most outstanding volleyball players ever, and is especially remembered for her work ethic in the classroom and on the volleyball court.

At West she was a four-year varsity letter winner, on the All Conference team three years, was team MVP two years and in her senior season in 1991 captained the team to a 27-10 record and a Sectional final berth.

She was named a Sun-Times All Star and made the Tribune’s All-State team. Nationally, Kirstine’s honors included being named U.S.V.B.A. All American and twice being named an A.A.U. USA All American. She was also named one of the nation’s “Fab Fifty” by Volleyball Monthly.

An outstanding student, she was a West Aurora Scholar Athlete, a member of the National Honor Society, Academic All Conference for three years and an Illinois Scholar Athlete in 1992.

Kirstine attended Ohio State University on a full scholarship and played on the varsity volleyball team for four years. Among her many college athletic achievements, she had the highest-percentage serving record at OSU, and during her junior year led Ohio State to the N.C.A.A. Final Four. As a college scholar-athlete all four years, her G.P.A. ranked her academically among the top five female athletes in the Big 10. She graduated magna cum laude in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science.

Over her coaching career, Kirstine has held positions as assistant coach at Ohio University and Florida State University where her teams posted at least twenty wins and made appearances in the N.C.A.A. She has coached several All American players and players-of-the-year in various conferences. For the past three seasons Kirstine has been serving as the assistant volleyball coach at Northern Illinois University where she has coordinated the Huskies’ recruiting efforts and achieved notable success in coaching middle and outside hitters.

Kirstine presently lives in Sycamore.


Kirstine Jensen

Class of 1992

(Hall of Fame Class of 2008)

Kirstine Jensen, Class of 1992, was one of West Aurora’s most outstanding volleyball players ever, and is especially remembered for her work ethic in the classroom and on the volleyball court.

At West she was a four-year varsity letter winner, on the All Conference team three years, was team MVP two years and in her senior season in 1991 captained the team to a 27-10 record and a Sectional final berth.

She was named a Sun-Times All Star and made the Tribune’s All-State team. Nationally, Kirstine’s honors included being named U.S.V.B.A. All American and twice being named an A.A.U. USA All American. She was also named one of the nation’s “Fab Fifty” by Volleyball Monthly.

An outstanding student, she was a West Aurora Scholar Athlete, a member of the National Honor Society, Academic All Conference for three years and an Illinois Scholar Athlete in 1992.

Kirstine attended Ohio State University on a full scholarship and played on the varsity volleyball team for four years. Among her many college athletic achievements, she had the highest-percentage serving record at OSU, and during her junior year led Ohio State to the N.C.A.A. Final Four. As a college scholar-athlete all four years, her G.P.A. ranked her academically among the top five female athletes in the Big 10. She graduated magna cum laude in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science.

Over her coaching career, Kirstine has held positions as assistant coach at Ohio University and Florida State University where her teams posted at least twenty wins and made appearances in the N.C.A.A. She has coached several All American players and players-of-the-year in various conferences. For the past three seasons Kirstine has been serving as the assistant volleyball coach at Northern Illinois University where she has coordinated the Huskies’ recruiting efforts and achieved notable success in coaching middle and outside hitters.

Kirstine presently lives in Sycamore.


Gordon Kerkman

Teacher/Coach 1962-2015

(Hall of Fame Class of 2016)

Gordon Kerkman was one of the most successful and legendary high school basketball coaches in Illinois history.

 A graduate of Van Horne, Iowa, High School, where he was Honorable Mention All-State in both basketball and baseball, in 1960 he received his B.A. degree from Coe College, where he co-captained both the basketball and baseball teams.  After graduation he taught and coached for two years at DeWitt High School in Iowa.

Coach Kerkman began teaching in the Social Studies Department at West Aurora in 1962.  He taught American History and coached sophomore basketball.  Later he transferred to the Physical Education Department and also coached football and did post-graduate work at Northern Illinois University. 

Coach Kerkman’s basketball coaching career at West High began with a 14-year stint as our sophomore, junior varsity and assistant varsity coach.  From 1976 until 2015 – a total of 39 years – he served as our head varsity coach and compiled a truly amazing record.  In 39 seasons his teams won 805 games and lost just 313, which makes him the 5th-winningest basketball coach in Illinois history, and the third all-time for wins at one high school.  His teams won 17 conference titles, 24 regional championships, and 13 sectional championships.  They made 11 appearances in the Elite 8 state quarterfinals and had 5 finishes in the Final Four in the state.  In 2000 his team won the State Championship. His overall record in 53 years at West High was 982-421, for a total of 1,403 games coached. 

During his career he received many Coach of the Year and other regional and state honors.  He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 1990 and in April of 2016 will receive the IBCA’s highest award, the Buzzy O’Connor Award for lifetime service.  Also, most fittingly, earlier in January the District 129 Board of Education renamed the West High gymnasium in his honor.

In addition to his remarkable success on the courts over the past 53 years, Gordon Kerman has positively impacted thousands of young men and women in the West Aurora community as an educator, coach and citizen.   He and his wife, Marilyn, are also parents of three children, Randy, Julie and Amy, all of whom are West graduates. 


Rorry Kinnally Bonifas

Class of 1998

(Hall of Fame Class of 2014)

Rorry Kinnally Bonifas (1998) excelled in both athletic and academic venues. Athletically, Rorry earned 11 varsity letters during her career in three sports: tennis (4), soccer (4), basketball (3), serving as team captain in all three sports. In soccer Rorry was selected to the Honorable Mention All-Sectional Soccer Team as a junior and senior. However, it was on the tennis court where Rorry truly exceled, compiling a record of 122-19, playing on teams that finished 4th and 6th in state her freshman and sophomore year, respectively, and winning a state championship her junior and senior year.
As a sophomore, Rorry and her doubles partner, Kristi Dunham, were 2nd Team All-State, winning four matches at the state tournament. As a junior the duo won five matches and were named 1st Team All-State, placing 7th, helping West to a State Championship. Her senior year, with sister Cara as her partner, Rorry was selected 2nd Team All-State, helping lead the Blackhawks to another state title. For her efforts her senior year Rorry was named Female Athlete of the Year. The Chicago Sun-Times listed her as one of the Top Ten Female Athletes in Illinois in 1998, while the Chicago Tribune named her as an Outstanding Athlete of Chicagoland as well.
Academically Rorry was the valedictorian of the class of 1998, maintaining a 4.47 GPA, and was a member of the National Honor Society, serving as president at West her senior year. In addition, she won many academic awards, including the IHSA Scholarship Achievement Award, Illinois State Scholar, National Merit Scholarship Program-Commended Student, among many more.
Rorry earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Montana, Juris Doctor Degree from Marquette University Law School, and a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree from Aurora University. She is married to her husband Nick, and resides in Geneva. Rorry is a fourth grade teacher and still plays soccer and tennis competitively.


Jim Konrad

Class of 1960

(Hall of Fame Class of 2009)

Tony Leonardi, a member of the West Aurora High School class of 1981, was an outstanding three sport athlete during his high school career.

Tony was the starting varsity quarterback as a sophomore when an early injury sidelined him for most of that season. He went on to lead his team at the quarterback position for the next two years passing for 2070 yards, completing 52% of his attempts. He was also the varsity punter with an average of over 30 yards per punt.

Tony lettered in basketball his freshman, sophomore and junior years at West. A football injury sustained in the season ending East-West game contributed to his missing the entire basketball campaign his senior year.

Tony was an outstanding pitcher for the Blackhawk varsity baseball program. In his junior and senior years, he compiled an earned run average of 1.41 while striking out 235 opposing batters. During those same two seasons the team went 47-12-1. He was an All-Conference selection both his junior and senior years. When not pitching, he played shortstop or designated hitter as his batting average was .413 his senior year.

After high school graduation, Tony was afforded a number of options to continue his football/baseball career. The Atlanta Braves drafted him to pitch for their organization. He also received numerous football and baseball offers from major universities, deciding to accept a baseball scholarship to the University of Illinois.

That same summer, Tony led his Connie Mack team to a 3rd place finish at the World Series with a 3-0 record. Retiring 58 of 65 batters he faced and allowing no earned runs in the 19 innings he pitched (still a record best), he was voted the tournament’s MVP.

Tony pitched two seasons with the Illini baseball program winning Big Ten player of the month his freshman year. After his sophomore year, the Braves drafted him for a second time and offered him a contract which he accepted. His professional baseball career was cut short by a shoulder injury which did not respond to surgery and intense therapy.

Tony has worked for Hayden’s Athletic in Champaign and Aurora for over 24 years. He and his wife Ellen have three children, Olivia, Vincent, and Raymond, all attending Freeman elementary school.


David Lee

Class of 1984

(Hall of Fame Class of 2009)

Tony Leonardi, a member of the West Aurora High School class of 1981, was an outstanding three sport athlete during his high school career.

Tony was the starting varsity quarterback as a sophomore when an early injury sidelined him for most of that season. He went on to lead his team at the quarterback position for the next two years passing for 2070 yards, completing 52% of his attempts. He was also the varsity punter with an average of over 30 yards per punt.

Tony lettered in basketball his freshman, sophomore and junior years at West. A football injury sustained in the season ending East-West game contributed to his missing the entire basketball campaign his senior year.

Tony was an outstanding pitcher for the Blackhawk varsity baseball program. In his junior and senior years, he compiled an earned run average of 1.41 while striking out 235 opposing batters. During those same two seasons the team went 47-12-1. He was an All-Conference selection both his junior and senior years. When not pitching, he played shortstop or designated hitter as his batting average was .413 his senior year.

After high school graduation, Tony was afforded a number of options to continue his football/baseball career. The Atlanta Braves drafted him to pitch for their organization. He also received numerous football and baseball offers from major universities, deciding to accept a baseball scholarship to the University of Illinois.

That same summer, Tony led his Connie Mack team to a 3rd place finish at the World Series with a 3-0 record. Retiring 58 of 65 batters he faced and allowing no earned runs in the 19 innings he pitched (still a record best), he was voted the tournament’s MVP.

Tony pitched two seasons with the Illini baseball program winning Big Ten player of the month his freshman year. After his sophomore year, the Braves drafted him for a second time and offered him a contract which he accepted. His professional baseball career was cut short by a shoulder injury which did not respond to surgery and intense therapy.

Tony has worked for Hayden’s Athletic in Champaign and Aurora for over 24 years. He and his wife Ellen have three children, Olivia, Vincent, and Raymond, all attending Freeman elementary school.


Tony Leonardi

Class of 1981

(Hall of Fame Class of 2009)

Tony Leonardi, a member of the West Aurora High School class of 1981, was an outstanding three sport athlete during his high school career.

Tony was the starting varsity quarterback as a sophomore when an early injury sidelined him for most of that season. He went on to lead his team at the quarterback position for the next two years passing for 2070 yards, completing 52% of his attempts. He was also the varsity punter with an average of over 30 yards per punt.

Tony lettered in basketball his freshman, sophomore and junior years at West. A football injury sustained in the season ending East-West game contributed to his missing the entire basketball campaign his senior year.

Tony was an outstanding pitcher for the Blackhawk varsity baseball program. In his junior and senior years, he compiled an earned run average of 1.41 while striking out 235 opposing batters. During those same two seasons the team went 47-12-1. He was an All-Conference selection both his junior and senior years. When not pitching, he played shortstop or designated hitter as his batting average was .413 his senior year.

After high school graduation, Tony was afforded a number of options to continue his football/baseball career. The Atlanta Braves drafted him to pitch for their organization. He also received numerous football and baseball offers from major universities, deciding to accept a baseball scholarship to the University of Illinois.

That same summer, Tony led his Connie Mack team to a 3rd place finish at the World Series with a 3-0 record. Retiring 58 of 65 batters he faced and allowing no earned runs in the 19 innings he pitched (still a record best), he was voted the tournament’s MVP.

Tony pitched two seasons with the Illini baseball program winning Big Ten player of the month his freshman year. After his sophomore year, the Braves drafted him for a second time and offered him a contract which he accepted. His professional baseball career was cut short by a shoulder injury which did not respond to surgery and intense therapy.

Tony has worked for Hayden’s Athletic in Champaign and Aurora for over 24 years. He and his wife Ellen have three children, Olivia, Vincent, and Raymond, all attending Freeman elementary school.


Michelle Matko

Class of 1998

(Hall of Fame Class of 2014)

Michelle Matko (1998) is the winningest tennis player in West Aurora history, going 148-6 in her four years for the Blackhawks. During that time Michelle played #1 Singles, winning four conference championships, four sectional championships, placing 3rd in State as a Junior, and 2nd as a Senior. During the IHSA series, Michelle won over 20 matches in her four years, earning her 1st team All-State honors for all four years. During her Freshman and Sophomore years, West Aurora’s team earned 4th and 6th in State, and won the Team State Championship her Junior and Senior years. In 1996, she was named Beacon News Player of the Year. After the 1997 championship, the entire team was selected as Beacon News Players of the Year, and Michelle was named a Prince All-American.

Michelle was an accomplished scholar as well, receiving the President’s Award for Educational Excellence, the IHSA Scholastic Achievement Award, and was also a member of the National Honor Society.
Michelle went on to receive a full athletic scholarship to The Ohio State University, where she played four years. She is the ninth winningest singles player in Ohio State’s Women’s Tennis program. Her team won the Big Ten Title in 2000, qualified for the NCAA tournament each of her four years, and achieved a national ranking in the top 25. Michelle earned Scholar Athlete honors all five years of attendance, All-Big Ten honors twice, and was on the Big Ten’s All-Academic team.
Michelle went on to study at the University of Oxford, England in 2002. In 2009, she graduated Cum Laude and earned her MBA from the University of Notre Dame.
Michelle is a US Marketing Manager at Abbott Laboratories, and lives in Aurora with her husband, 2006 West Aurora Hall of Fame inductee, Paul Pridmore.


Natalie Matko

Class of 2000

(Hall of Fame Class of 2016)

Natalie Matko, Class of 2000, holds the highest honor to be recognized as the “Tennis player with the most wins ever for West Aurora High School”.   She holds the record at 156 wins and only 3 loses.  Natalie was a four time All-Conference Champ, as well as a four time Sectional Champion.  She won the State Doubles Championship in both 1996 and 1997.  She came in 3rd place in 1998 and 2nd place in 1999 at the state tournament.  In 1997 she was honored as the Chicago Tribune Preps Plus Student Athlete of the Year; prior to that she also was locally recognized by the Beacon News in 1996-1998 as Athlete of the Week.  Her talents also lie in the classroom reaching the honor of WAHS Scholar Athlete all four years, as well as serving as National Honor Society member in 1999 and 2000.  In 1999 and 2000 Natalie was recognized as DuPage Valley Conference All-Academic Team Member as well as All-Academic Team.  In 1999 Natalie received the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association Sportsmanship Award.  In the years 1996, 1997, 1998, as well as 1999, Natalie was names 1st Team All State Tennis.

Natalie continued her education and tennis wins at DePaul University, where she had 85 singles wins and 72 wins in doubles.  She was a four-time Conference USA Academic Medal of Honor winner as well as a four-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll.  She was a recipient of the Cortelyou, C.M. Award for highest cumulative GPA out of DePaul’s student athletes as well as recipient of the Jean Nordberg Memorial (Leadership) award.  She was a member of the Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, Member of the Beta Gamma Sigma, National Society for Collegiate Scholars, and Gold Key National Honor Society.  Natalie appeared on the Dean’s List from 2000 – 2004 and was named 2002-2003 Conference USA Player of the Week.  In 2003-2004 Natalie was names Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete.  During Natalie’s attendance at DePaul, the team was ranked top 75 in the nation each year, and she also earned the Conference USA team Sportsmanship as well as the Athletic Award (2002-2003) and ITA Team National Sportsmanship Award (2003-2004)

Natalie graduated with highest honors with her Bachelors of Science in Economics and Marketing.  She is currently a Buyer at Lululeo Athletica doing fitness and yoga.  Natalie currently resides in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada.


Stephanie Matko – Chrisman

Class of 2000

(Hall of Fame Class 2016)

Stephanie Matko holds the title of “Second most winning record tennis player for West Aurora High School” only to her sister.  Stephanie holds a 153 wins and 3 loss record.  Stephanie was a four time Conference Champion, four- time All-Conference Champion, as well as a four time Sectional Champion.  She won the State Doubles Championship in both 1996 and 1997 with her sister, Natalie.  She also placed 3rd in the 1998 State Doubles Championship and 2nd place in the 1999 State Doubles Championship.  She and Natalie were the 1996 and 1997 Team State Champions.  Stephanie won in 2000 Prince All-American honor as well as the 2000 Press Republican Co-Player of the Year.  Stephanie was the 1997 Chicago Tribune Preps Plus Student Athlete of the Year and 1996- 1998 Beacon News Athlete of the Week.  Along with her Athletics, she was also honored for her academics receiving the WAHS Scholar Athlete award in each of her four years, as well as the DuPage Valley All-Academic and All-Conference Team.  In 1999, Stephanie won the Illinois High School Tennis Coaches Association Sportsmanship Award.  Stephanie also was a member of the National Honor Society in 1999 – 2000.

Stephanie continued in college at DePaul University where she was 76 singles wins and 68 wins in doubles.  She was a four-time Conference USA Academic Medal of Honor winner and four- time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll.  She is a member of the Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities, member of the National Colligate Scholars, Golden Key National Honor Society, as well as recognized on the 2000- 2004 Dean’s List.  In 2001-2002 Stephanie was recognized as the Conference USA Player of the Week and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar Athlete.  DePaul Women’s Tennis team was ranked top 75 in the nation each year of Stephanie and her sisters played.  Stephanie earned Conference USA team Sportsmanship and Academic Award in 2002-2003 and received ITA team National Sportsmanship Award and Scholar Athlete in 2003-2004.

Stephanie graduated in 2004 with Highest Honors with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.  In 2010 she earned a MBA with High Honors from Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University.  Currently she serves as Vice-President at Pearlmark Real Estate Partners serving as a Financial Analyzer.  Stephanie resides in Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Mark Chrisman and step-daughter, four-year-old, Joely.


Mike Matteson

Class of 1977

(Hall of Fame Class of 2011)

Mike was a four-year member of the Cross Country Team, three of those years running varsity, and his senior year captain of the team. He ran in the Regional, Sectional, and State competitions all four years. Mike placed 2nd at the Kane County meet both his junior and senior years, 2nd in the Upstate Eight Conference meet his senior year, 9th in Sectional his senior year, and 9th in the State qualifying for an All State Award. His best time at WA 14:27 for three miles.

Also while at West, Mike wrestled his freshman and sophomore competing at the varsity level his sophomore year.

He was a member of the track team running the 800, 1 mile, and 2 mile. Mike was the City Champion in the 1 mile and 2 mile his junior year establishing meet records. He was Conference runner-up (indoor) 1 mile and 2 mile junior year establishing meet records, conference 3rd place (outdoor) junior year, indoor season senior year, school record holder 2 mile indoor and outdoor, 1 mile indoor. High school career best 800 – 2:02, 1 mile – 4:26, 2 mile – 9:33, 9:21 indoor.

After graduating from West High, Mike was a walk-on at Illinois State University’s cross country team as a freshman in 1977. He was a four year letter winner in both cross country and track. While at ISU, he was captain of the XC team in 1980 and 1981, set record in 1978 in the indoor 3 mile and 10,000 outdoor. In 1978, he participated at the Jr. AAU Championships in the 10,000. Also was Illinois Intercollegiate Champion in the 10,000 in 1980, Illinois Intercollegiate Team Championship XC – 1979, NCAA Qualifier 10,000m – 1980, 6th place finish, All American 10,000m – 1980. His Collegiate career best 1500m – 3:55, 1 mile – 4:09.6, 2 mile – 8:51.1, 3 mile – 13:36, 10,000 – 29:25.6

In 1982, Mike placed 27th in the NYC Marathon, in 1983 placed 14th in the Olympic Trials Qualifier at the San Francisco Marathon, and in 1984 placed 42nd in the 1984 Olympic Trials.

Mike currently works for Edward Jones Investments as Financial Advisor in Kalamazoo Michigan and is married to Ruth Bedrosian, a 1977 West Aurora graduate. They have a son, Philip.


Greg Miller

Class of 1997

(Hall of Fame Class of 2013)

Greg Miller is a member of the West Aurora High School Class of 1997 and was a tremendous two-sport athlete, playing varsity basketball and baseball for three years.

Greg’s varsity career on the hardwood began when he was brought up to the varsity as a sophomore in 1994 for Coach Gordie Kerkman’s 17-10 squad. At 6’5”, Greg was a very difficult matchup for opposing guards and he averaged 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. As a junior he helped lead the team to a 27-3 record and 9 th place in the state by averaging 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game. Greg led the team is assists, steals and charges taken as a senior and compiled 524 career points and 490 career rebounds, and helped propel the Blackhawks to a second-place finish in the state with a 29-4 record in 1997. Greg was named first-team All Conference for his efforts that season.

Baseball, however, is where Greg made his biggest mark on the West Aurora sports history book. Greg is the current West Aurora record holder for career strikeouts, career innings pitched, highest single-season batting average (.480) and is tied for the most wins in a career with 23. He was a three-time All Conference baseball player, and as a senior was named Beacon News Player of the Year, Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, Chicago Tribune First Team All State, and was selected to the USA Today High School All-American Team. West Aurora named him the Male Athlete of the Year for 1997. Soon after, he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round (161 st overall) of that year’s Amateur Baseball Draft.

Greg was recognized by the Boston Red Sox organization in 1998 as the Gulf Coast League Pitcher of the Year and in 1999 as the Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year. Greg was traded after the 1999 season to the Houston Astros organization where he ascended to the team’s number 7 prospect in 2001. Having reached as high as Triple A, and after some challenging arm injuries, Greg retired after six professional seasons.

He returned to the Aurora area and graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Education.

Greg was elected to the Aurora Boys’ Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 in recognition of his spectacular career. He now resides in Riverside, IL with his wife, Leslie, and son, Michael.


Randy Norman

Class of 1984

(Hall of Fame Class of 2013)

A member of the West High Class of 1984, Randy Norman will forever be associated with the excellence that is West Aurora basketball. A three-year varsity letter-winner at guard, he played on three Upstate Eight Conference championship teams and played a vital role in the third-place finish in the IHSA Class AA Tournament in 1984. Randy scored 30 points in the sectional title game and 20 more in the supersectional, thrusting the Blackhawks to the Elite Eight in Champaign. In three more games downstate, Randy averaged 12.3 points per game.

His senior year he averaged 14.7 points per game, finishing up with 592 career points, scoring in double figures 26 times, and making first-team All Conference, All Suburban Area, fourth-team All State and second-team All State Tournament.

Randy continued his playing career at Northern Illinois University, where he was a member of the fabled “Magnificent Seven” recruiting class of 1984-85. Randy won four varsity letters at NIU, appearing in 101 games and starting 30.

Randy’s game was taken to the next level after the NCAA adopted the three-point line in 1986-87. He graduated with seven school records for three-point shooting, including most single game three-pointers (7), most single-season three-pointers (56 in 1987-88), most career three-pointers (100) and best single-game three-point percentage (.714 , 5 of 7, vs. Florida International in 1986-87).

Randy graduated from NIU in 1989 with a General Studies/Communication degree.

Randy now resides in Bolingbrook with his wife, Renata, and two sons: Randall II and Remington. He is currently employed by Farmers Insurance as a resolution specialist.


Jim Panagopoulos

Class of 1991

(Hall of Fame Class of 2007)

(No photo or biography available)


Amy Periman Scheller

Class of 1990

(Hall of Fame Class of 2007)

(No photo or biography available)


James Pittman

Teacher / Coach 1961 - 1992

(Hall of Fame Class of 2013)

Committed, hard worker, dedicated, lifelong learner, father, husband, teacher, coach and friend are all words that describe James “Jim” D. Pittman. Jim is receiving his induction into the West Aurora Sports Hall of Fame for his many years as an outstanding teacher and coach for West Aurora High School.

A graduate of East Aurora High School, Jim attended Indiana State and later transferred to Aurora College, where he graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He spent two years in the U.S. Army at Ft. Sill, OK. Upon returning to Aurora he began teaching at Benjamin Franklin Junior High. Jim joined the faculty of West Aurora High School in 1961, where he taught biology for 31 years. During his 34-year teaching career in District 129 Jim earned a Masters of Education degree at the University of Illinois.

Jim served as the head coach for Boys’ Golf from 1965-1973. His teams qualified for the state finals six times (1965, 1967, 1974-spring, 1974-fall, 1975 and 1976). His teams won eight Aurora City Championships, 3 District titles and 2 Conference titles. The 1974 team finished fourth in the state.

He also was the assistant varsity and head sophomore Boys’ Basketball coach from 1961-1978. His teams won numerous conference championships and he developed many players who went on to become outstanding varsity players.

Jim retired from teaching and coaching in 1992 and worked for the next 20 years as a part-time starter and marshal at Orchard Valley Golf Course. He was also part owner of the video store Images on Video in Aurora, and was a realtor with McEnroe Real Estate for many years.

Jim passed away December 2, 2012 and is survived by his wife, Doris, and their four children, all West High graduates: Craig (Jan), Kristi, Scott (Kim) and Kim (Tom).


Robert Plaskas

Coach

(Hall of Fame Class of 2008)

Robert “Bob” Plaskas, considered the founding father of West Aurora’s modern day baseball program, served as the Blackhawks’ first head coach, 1969-1976.

After graduating from Oswego High School in 1960, where he finished 2nd and 4th in the state wrestling tournament, Bob attended Northwestern University on a wrestling scholarship. A four-year varsity performer, he captained the Wildcats and was crowned Big 10 champion in 1963. Following graduation in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree, he attended Eastern Michigan University, earning his master’s degree in 1966.

That same year Bob joined the staff at West Aurora High School where he taught Social Studies and served as assistant wrestling coach. In 1967 he accepted an offer to become the head wrestling coach at the University of Chicago, but returned to West the following year when he was asked to start a baseball program. While teaching and serving as chair of the Social Studies Department, Bob built the foundation of what would become one of the most successful baseball programs in the area.

Coach Plaskas had to do literally everything for the program, from ordering uniforms and equipment to building the field on Plum Street with the help of Neal Dooley, head of grounds. During his eight years as head coach, Bob compiled a career record of 112-73-2, a .599 winning percentage. His teams won two Upstate 8 Conference Championships, six District (now known as Regional) titles, four Sectional titles, and twice finished fifth in the state (1974, 1975) and third in the state (1973, 1976), an unprecedented run of four consecutive appearances at the state finals which is still a record today. In 1975 he was named Coach of the Year by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Coach Plaskas’ teams were known for their extremely strong pitching and excellent defense, qualities for which he credits the coaching staff which included his eventual successors Arnie Verbic (1977-84) and Dave Rowell (1985-2007) and the late Frank Krempa.

After ending his coaching career, Bob continued to teach at West until 1979, when he became Athletic Director for his alma mater, Oswego High School. He retired in 1999 and along with his wife, Margaret, (WA Class of 1961) still lives in their home along the Fox River in Oswego. They have two sons, Jonathan and Aaron.


Donna Proctor

Teacher / Coach 1985 - Current

(Hall of Fame Class of 2010)

Donna Bensen Proctor is one of the most successful-ever coaches of girls’ athletics at West High.

Donna attended Thornwood High School where she was a multi-sport athlete. She subsequently graduated from Aurora University in 1980 and was recognized as one of the most accomplished female athletes in school history in softball, basketball and volleyball. She was elected into the Aurora University Hall of Fame in 1989.

Donna began her teaching career in the West Aurora School District in 1985. She served as head softball coach at West from 1986-1995 and 1997-2007. She also served as an assistant varsity coach in the very successful West Aurora girls’ basketball program from 1983-2000. Under Donna’s leadership West’s softball program quickly became competitive and she led her teams to 9 regional titles, 7 Upstate Eight Conference titles, 2 DuPage Valley Conference titles, 9 sectional advances and 2 IHSA Sweet Sixteen tournament advances. In 10 years of competing in the DuPage Valley Conference, her teams earned 6 first or second place finishes.

In Donna’s 21-year softball coaching career at West her teams achieved 444 victories, averaging 21 wins per season. She currently ranks as one of the 15 winingest coaches in Illinois state history. The Illinois Coaches Association voted her the Class AA Coach of the Year in 2006.

Donna currently serves as department chair for the Physical Education, Health and Drivers Education departments at West Aurora High School. She resides in Sugar Grove with her husband, Mark, and she now joins him as a member of the West Aurora Hall of Fame.


Dave Rowell

34 Seasons – 23 as Head Coach, 1985-2007

(Hall of Fame Class of 2010)

Dave Rowell ended his 23rd season at the helm of the West Aurora Baseball Team and his 34th coaching in the program at the conclusion of the 2007 season. Coach Rowell took over the reigns from Arnie Verbic at the beginning of the 1985 season and has kept the winning tradition going strong. Over 23 seasons Coach Rowell has compiled a record of 428-287-4 giving him a .595 winning percentage, which makes him the all-time winningest coach at West Aurora. He guided the Blackhawks to 7 conference titles, all in the Upstate Eight Conference, 9 Regional Titles, and 2 Sectional titles with a 5th place finish in 1987 and 4th place finish in 1991. His last Regional title came during the 2006 season when his team captured the regional titled defeating Waubonsee Valley. During his tenure as Head Coach, he has seen a number of former players move on to the college level, as well as, 4 players play at the professional level. Former Blackhawk and member of 1990 team Rich Becker, played in the Major Leagues for close to 10 years. The most recent former Blackhawk to play professionally is Preston Larrison, who is current in AAA. Prior to becoming the head coach, Coach Rowell served as sophomore coach beginning in 1973 when he first arrived at West Aurora, In 2008, Dave was elected to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Dave Rowell hails from the Quad Cities where he graduated from Moline High School in 1968. While at Moline, Coach Rowell was a member of the 1967 Moline High School football team that went unbeaten and won the mythical state championship. He was the starting quarterback on a team that went 9-0 and has been declared the state champion before the advent of the playoff system. After high school, Coach Rowell headed down to Carbondale, Illinois to attend Southern Illinois University where he graduated in 1972.

Coach Rowell taught Physical Education but also served as a Dean of Students and taught in the Business Department. Also, while at West Aurora High School, he served as a Freshmen Basketball Coach and coached former Illinois and NBA player Kenny Battle. He has one son, Eric.


Kim Schaubel-Groom

Class of 1988

(Hall of Fame Class of 2012)

Kim Schaubel (’88) was an outstanding athlete competing in both basketball and softball at West Aurora and the college level.  Kim was known as a dedicated, hard-working, gifted athlete respected by players and coaches.

In basketball, she was a three-year starter at the varsity level.  Kim earned Upstate Eight Conference honors for both her junior and senior years.  Her scoring, assists, rebounds and defense were outstanding.

During her senior year, she was chosen as a Unanimous Upstate Eight All-Conference selection, was voted Most Dedicated, and was named the West Aurora Female Athlete of the Year.

Kim also gained outstanding achievements in softball at West Aurora.  She was selected team captain in both her junior and senior years.  During her senior year, Kim achieved a pitching record of 15 wins with only 2 losses, while striking out 118 batters leading her team to the Upstate Eight Conference Title and the IHSA Regional Championship.  She ranks among the school’s leaders in total strike-outs.

Following graduation from West, Kim continued her education at Waubonsee Junior College.  She earned All Conference honors in softball, served as a Big Sister to younger girls, and also was involved as a Police Cadet.

Upon graduating from Waubonsee, Kim not only continued her athletic career, she also worked full time as a police officer while attending Aurora University.  In her junior year, Kim started 18 games pitching on the softball team and averaged 12.6 points per games on the basketball team.  During her senior year she started 19 games pitching and also served as team captain.  She received the Woman of the Year NCAA Athletic Honor which was based on athletics, scholarship and community service.

Kim currently is in charge of Forensic Evidence for the Aurora Police Department and serves as a coach in grade school and summer leagues.  She resides in the West Aurora School District with her husband, Joe, and children Luke, Gabriel and Seth.


Jackie Shook-Weaver

Class of 2000

(Hall of Fame Class of 2016)

 Jackie was a four-year varsity starter in basketball and was the most highly recruited Division I player in school history.

Jackie received national and state-wide acclaim including being selected Street and Smith All-American and nominated for the Ms. Illinois Basketball Award by the Chicago Tribune.

During her career she achieved many honors including 4 years selection to the DuPage Valley All-Conference teams, named to several All-Tournament teams, selected as Chicago Sun Times Top 20 All-Area, Chicago Tribune and Beacon News Athlete of the Week honors.

Jackie was selected to the Illinois Basketball Coaches All-State team three years, and in her senior year voted 1st team All-State by the Associated Press, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Chicago Tribune All-State Top 5, Chicago Sun Times Top 20 All-Area team, and Champaign News Gazette 1st Team All-State.

In addition to several Player of the Year awards, she earned three DuPage Valley Conference All-Academic awards.

Upon graduation from West Aurora, Jackie was awarded a basketball scholarship to Penn State University.  She played two years for the nationally ranked team, and following an injury transferred to Trevecca University.  Jackie played for two years and is regarded as one of the best players in Trevecca’s history.  She was named NAIA All-American 2005 and 2006, six-time TranSouth Player of the Week, Player of the Year, and was selected to the NAIA All-National Tournament Team.

Jackie finished her career in 2006 with four career records, ten season records, and was inducted to the Trevecca Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.  Following graduation Jackie played professionally in Spain.

Jackie is involved in pharmaceutical sales and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband Wes, and their children Carolynn and Wesley.


Skip Stolley

Class of 1964

(Hall of Fame Class of 2012)

Skip Stolley (’64) an outstanding distance runner, was instrumental in establishing a cross country team at West High by initiating a letter writing campaign.  Skip was the cross country captain for three years, 1962-1964.  He was the individual champion in the conference meet for two years and finished eight at the district meet in 1964.  In track, he was also an outstanding miler and distance runner.  In 1963 and 1964, Skip was the Upstate Eight Conference Champion in the mile.

Skip is a career track and field coach with a record of success at the high school, NCAA and USATF elite development club levels of the sport.  Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 1983, he was head men’s and women’s track and field and cross country coach at Indiana State University.  Prior to that he was a high school coach at Proviso West and Thornridge.

In California, he created a USA Track and Field sanctioned club to develop men and women distance runners.  This effort produced more than 60 qualifiers for the USA Outdoor Championships and 24 athletes who competed in the Olympic Track and Field Trial.  In Cross Country, the club’s team won the 1994 and 1997 National Championships while it’s men’s team recorded three top-10-finishes.

In 2006, he reinvented his club into the VS Athletics Track Club which became one of the 36 USATF designated “Elite Development Clubs” in the United States.

As an event director, Skip conducted major track and field and cross country invitations in Southern California such as USATF Championships, 1992-2009; USA National Cross country Championships in Long Beach; 2006 USATF National Club Championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

Skip has been selected as a coach for five USA National Teams in international competition most recently head USA Men’s team coach for the 2009 Pan American Junior Championships.  He received USA Track and Field’s Cross Country Coach of the Year Award in 1999 and its Outstanding Contributor Award in 2000.  In 2008, he received USA Track and Field President’s Award.  In 2009, he was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame.

From 2002 until 2009, he served as vice president of the Southern California Association of USA Track and Field, member of the USATG Men’s Track and Field Executive Committee, chairman of the USATG National Club Council and director of the first annual National Throws Summit in Anaheim, California.

Skip has written more than 40 articles for various coaching journals and running publications and served as a contributing writer/editor for Runner’s World, American Track and Field News, Cal track and Running News and Peak Performance magazine.  For 11 years he served as director of Coaching Education for the Amateur Athletic Foundation.

Before retiring last summer as director of track and field and cross country at North Park University in Chicago, Skip founded the Chicago Area Track and Field Organizing Committee, Inc.  He currently resides in St. Charles, IL.


Cindy Sutto

Class of 1998

(Hall of Fame Class of 2017)

Cindy, a member of the class of 1998, was a multi talented athlete.  She earned varsity letters in three sports including basketball (4), soccer (4), and volleyball (1).

In volleyball she participated on the junior varsity team as a freshman and became a varsity letter winner as a sophomore. 

As a member of the West Aurora’s first Girls Soccer team, she was a four-year varsity starter.  Cindy was named captain all four years and led the team in goals and assists all four years as well.

Cindy excelled in basketball and was considered by many as one of the top point guards for West Aurora.  Cindy was one of the few point guards to start at the varsity level as a freshman.  She missed only one game in her four years.  In the state 3-point competition she advanced to the sectionals in both her junior and senior years.  Cindy served as team captain her last 3 years, and upon graduation she held the school record for assists and ranked highly in points scored.

During her basketball career, Cindy earned All-Conference honors in both the Upstate 8 Conference and the DuPage Valley Conference.  She was named All-Tournament in the Warhawk Thanksgiving tournament and the Wheaton North Holiday Classic.  The Chicago Sun Times named her to the All-Area rankings and the Beacon News named her Athlete of the Week.

Cindy earned All-Academic honors in both the Upstate 8 Conference and DuPage Valley Conference.  She was named West Aurora scholar athlete all 4 years and received the Leadership Award for all athletes.

Following graduation, Cindy became the starting point guard at St. Francis University.

Cindy currently resides in Toledo, Ohio with her husband, Jim Sutto, and two sons, Logan and Brody.  In her professional career, employs her leadership skills as a District Manager with Verizon Wireless, where she also created a Women’s Leadership Conference.  She continues to be involved with sports and coaches her sons in both soccer and basketball.


Joe Tait

Class of 1955

(Hall of Fame Class of 2011)

Joe Tait, Class of 1955, has received induction into the WA Sports Hall of Face, not for his exploits in athletic competition, but for his years of outstanding service as a nationally-respected sports broadcaster. A knee injury early in his high school years kept Joe from being able to compete; however, this led him to contribute as a manager for coaches Ken Zimmerman and Joe Axelson in football and basketball.

Joe graduated from Monmouth College in 1959 where he began his radio career performing various duties for the college radio state (WRAM). Later he taught sports casting at Ohio University from 1966 to 1968 and was the network voice of University of Indiana football before becoming the pre-game host for the Indiana Pacers in 1969.

In 1970, thanks to his previous association with Coach Bull Fitch, Tait became the play-by-play broadcaster of the Cleveland Cavaliers who were in their first season of NBA competition. Except for a two-year ownership change during which he did radio broadcasts for the New Jersey Nets and the next season doing TV broadcasts of the Chicago Bulls games, Joe has been the “Man behind the mike” for well over 3000 Cavalier NBA games. In the off-season when not doing Cavalier games, Joe did the radio announcing (1973-79) and television announcing (1980-87) for the Cleveland Indians. Also from 1997-2003, Tait was the play-by-play man for WNBA Cleveland Rockers.

Joe has been inducted into several broadcasting halls of fame. In August of last year, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Face presented him with the 2010 Curt Gowdy Media Award. A bout with pneumonia and several heart problems have kept Joe from his broadcasting duties since the pre-season games of this season. On January 8th he underwent double bypass heart surgery. All of Joe’s friends wish him a complete and speedy recovery. Congratulations on tonight’s Hall of Fame inductions and thank for representing your high school alma mater in terrific fashion.


Billy Taylor

Class of 1991

(Hall of Fame Class of 2007)

(No photo or biography available)


JaRod Tobler

Class of 2000

JaRod Tobler, class of 2000, is one of the very few West Aurora athletes to be part of a state championship team in one sport and all-state in a second sport.  JaRod was an intregal part of the 2000 Boys Basketball State Championship team.  A hard-working, top reserve for Coach Gordie Kerkman, he logged valuable minutes on the train to the state title.

It was in track and field, however, where this incredible athlete would shine the brightest.  A three-time varsity letter winner, he capped off his senior year by placing first in the long jump and triple jump at three prestigious invitational meets: Kane County, Peterson Invite, and the Blackhawk (now known as the John Bell) Invitational.  At the Blackhawk, with defending state champion Wheaton Warrenville South and powerhouse Thornton and Naperville Central present, JaRod won the long jump (23’5”) and triple jump with an outstanding leap of 48’11”, defeating the second place finisher by more than five feet.  JaRod finished the year by being named All-State in both events placing 4th in the long jump and 2nd in the triple jump. 

JaRod soared at Illinois State University where he won multiple conference championships and still holds many school records at Radford and Illinois State.  He placed 2nd in the 2011 USA Indoor Championships and qualified for the US Olympic Trials in 2008, placing 6th, and also finishing 7th in 2012 in the long jump.  JaRod competed overseas professionally from 2009-2012, which included a first place finish at the 2009 Mt. Sac Relays.

JaRod has coached at the collegiate level at Eastern Illinois, Radford, and East Tennessee State.  Currently, JaRod is a resident counselor and coach at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.  As he continues to compete, his contributions to the youth he coaches are immeasurable. 

Athletic ability runs in the Tobler family.  Sisters Tiffany and Alicia both ran track at West Aurora, while his brother Jason competed as well.  JaRod’s father Mike is a long-time teacher and coach in District 129, while his mother Gylela has always been his biggest fan.


Arnie Verbic

Class of 1941, Coach

(Hall of Fame Class of 2007)

(No photo or biography available)


Megan Weber

Class of 1995

(Hall of Fame Class of 2011)

Megan Weber, Class of 1995, has a very successful career as a multi-sport athlete at West Aurora. Her participation in softball, tennis, and basketball was noteworthy. She participated in softball and tennis for four years and basketball for three years. In all three sports, she displayed a high level of athleticism and competitiveness.

Megan’s achievements in softball resulted in a number of career records. She ranks 1st in career hits, doubles, triples and RBI totals. Additionally, she ranks 2nd in career runs scored, and 2nd in career home runs. She was selected to the Upstate Eight All Conference Team all four years. Meagan is regarded as one of the finest catchers representing West Aurora.

Megan’s tennis career at West Aurora was also exceptional. She played at the varsity level all four years, served as captain, and won 89 matches. Her achievements earned her three appearances in the Illinois State Tennis Tournaments. Megan was named to three All State Teams including a 1st Team Selection. During her career on the tennis team, she won three Upstate Eight Conference championships.

Megan continued her athletic participation of Carthage College playing both softball and tennis. In tennis, she placed 2nd in the CCIW conference in doubles play all four years. Singles play resulted in 2nd place in the CCIW her senior year. While at Carthage, Megan was named to the All Conference teams in softball for three years while also earning All Academic honors.

After graduating from Carthage College, she served on the coaching staff in the tennis program at Carthage College for four years. Megan currently serves as head coach in tennis and softball at a high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She resides in Kenosha with her husband, Bill, and their son, Kosta.


Jeff Weisse

Class of 1995

(Hall of Fame Class of 2012)

Jeff Weisse (’95) goes down as one of West’s outstanding football and baseball players.  Jeff played in 29 consecutive football games and was the leading tackler in 22 games.  He was All Conference for three years and All Area for 2 years.  The Champaign News Gazette and Chicago Tribune named him to their all-state teams his senior year.

Jeff’s career record for tackles was, 356 – 246 solo tackles, and 110 assist tackles.  His senior year, he also set the school record for the most tackles with 156 of which 110 were solo.  In both his junior and senior years, Jeff was voted West Aurora MVP Defensive Players.  Also his senior year, Jeff was voted West Aurora Most Valuable Player.  He was selected to the North/South Suburban All State Team, voted All American by USA Today, and named the Copley Newspaper Prep Player of the Week, receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Along with his accomplishments in football, Jeff also played baseball for three years.  Jeff gave up his senior year of baseball to prepare for his future playing football at the collegiate level.

Jeff received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois.  He was a four-year letterman and team captain his senior year.  He holds the school record of 6 tackles for loss in one game.  During his senior year, Jeff received the Wright Family Commitment to Excellence Award.  While at Illinois, Jeff received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communications and Minor in Marketing.

Since College, 2000-2010, Jeff worked at Wunderman Marketing and Jake Morton Sports Marketing where he worked and negotiated contracts with five major sports leagues (MLB, NCAA, NFL and NBA) He is currently working for Kelmscott Communications in Aurora.

Jeff is married to Nancy, who is an elementary teacher at Smith Elementary School in Aurora and has 3 children (twins) Grace and Abigail, ages 7 and Nicholas, age 5.


Richard Zuege

Coach

(Hall of Fame Class of 2009)

Having the outstanding qualities of being a great teacher, coach, athletic director, gentleman, and friend best describes Richard Zuege. He was successful and highly respected in all of his endeavors along with being a mentor and guide to all who knew him. He showed you could get results, not with an iron fist, but with respect and compassion. He was a man of great character and it was obvious in everything he did.

Coach Zuege graduated from Ottawa High School in 1946 and Illinois State University in 1950. He starred in football, basketball, and track in both high school and college. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army from 1951 to 1953. Prior to coming to West High, he taught at Manlius, then Bremen High School. Coach came to West Aurora in 1958, to teach Physical Education and Industrial Arts. Later he would become chair of the Industrial Arts department for many years. His great teaching extended into his long coaching career. From 1958 until 1973, he was an assistant coach in football, wrestling, basketball and track. From 1970 to 1973, he was the Head Football Coach.

In 1976 Mr. Zuege accepted the position of Athletic Director for West. Until his retirement in 1984, he worked tirelessly to build West High athletics. He increased the number of boys sports from six to ten and was instrumental in starting eight new girls sports programs during his tenure as A.D. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed, as in 1984, he was presented the School District’s Golden Apple Award for his excellence. Coach was definitely an inspiration to all who knew him and will go down in West High’s history as one of its finest role models to ever for West athletics.

Coach Richard Zuege passed away in 2003 and is survived by his wife Lois. And by his three children, all of whom are successful West graduates Lynn Girls (and her husband Jeff); Craig Zuege (and his wife Lynda), and Cynthia Coil (and her husband Dewain).


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