Not a bad way to headline an athletic Hall of Fame class.
This past weekend, Naperville Central inducted the third class into its Athletic Hall of Fame as the 2015 eight-person class was headlined by the likes of Tim Lavery, Owen Daniels, Bill Seiple and Bob Sterr.
Lavery and Daniels, in 1995 and 1999, respectively, led Joe Bunge’s football program to the Class 6A state title game, with Daniels finishing what Lavery started by leading the Redhawks to a 56-31 victory over Schaumburg to cap a perfect 14-0 season while bringing home the program’s first state football crown.
“Yeah, it’s been a really cool thing. It’s a huge honor,” Daniels said back in November. “There’s obviously been a lot of good athletes that have run through Naperville Central. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of time and been part of that high school and the athletic program was a big deal to me. To be recognized like that is a pretty cool thing.”
Daniels, who has spent nine years in the NFL as a tight end with both the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens after shifting from quarterback to tight end during his time at Wisconsin, threw 16 touchdowns with just one interception as a junior during the 1999 season before tearing his ACL in Week 3 of the 2000 season as the Redhawks were armed to repeat as 6A state champs.
Coping with the disappointment of falling short of an anticipated title run as a quarterback of a Naperville Central football team is something Lavery can certainly relate to.
Lavery, who played both baseball and football, was a two-year varsity starter at quarterback for Bunge and led Naperville Central to a combined 24-3 varsity record from 1994-95.
Lavery threw for 2,417 yards and 30 TDs in 1995, earning numerous All-State accolades in the process, as the Redhawks won their first 13 games before losing to Wheaton Warrenville South, 22-21, in the 1995 Class 6A state title game in Normal.
Drafted twice by the Cubs, once out of high school in 1996 and again out of Illinois after his junior year in 1999, Lavery, who called himself a baseball player at heart, was a three-year starting pitcher for Seiple at the varsity level, a stretch that included a 10-1 record as a senior in 1996 for a team that won 22 games.
“It worked out perfectly for me. It really taught me patience more than anything and I kind of had the best of both worlds. I did,” Lavery said. “I got to experience what it was like to go through a football week and have some structure. … Baseball, we were really just focused on ourselves. We weren’t so much focused on what the other team was going to do. We were more concerned on ourselves and if we were going to be able to execute our plan.”
In 30 years at the helm of his alma mater’s baseball program from 1982 through 2011, Seiple won 711 games, 13 regional titles, three sectional titles and a pair of state championships in 2006 and 2010.
The 2010 team won a school-record 38 games, including ending the year on a 18-game winning streak, en route to winning the Class 4A state title with a victory over St. Rita.
Two out of the three years Seiple led teams to 30-win seasons, they won a state championship as the 38-win year in 2010 came four years after Seiple and the late Phil Lawler led the 2006 team to 35 wins and the Class AA state title.
“It’s a wonderful thing and it really is. You look at not only the other (people) that went in this year, but the ones in the two years prior—it’s a real honor,” said Seiple, a 1971 Naperville Central graduate. “It’s a real humbling thing and Naperville Central has been a real special place for a lot of years and I’ve been lucky to have been a little piece of that for really a long time.”
Sterr, meanwhile, joined Seiple out of the coaching ranks as part of the Class of 2015 after spending 24 years leading the boys’ basketball program.
Compiling a 379-264 career record from 1979 through 2003, Sterr led the boys’ basketball program to 10 DuPage Valley Conference titles, nine regional titles and one sectional title, which came in 1993 with Anthony Parker leading the charge as the Redskins won 24 games.
Ever the savant on Naperville Central history, Seiple chose to deflect the attention on him while deciding to focus on the rest of the class—Jenna Wrobel, Christine Johnson, Kathy Cunningham and Bob Parcells.
Wrobel, a 1995 graduate, was a three-sport athlete and a two-time first All-State volleyball selection before moving on to a tremendous volleyball career at Michigan State while Cunningham, a 1986 graduate, set the Naperville Central record in the high jump at 5’8’’.
The other female inductee, Christine Johnson, earned All-State honors as a midfielder in 1990 and 1991 before heading to Butler and eventually being named an All-American in 1994 en route to becoming the third all-time leading scorer in program history.
While many now associate the likes of Daniels, Lavery, Ryan Clifford and many others with the success of the football program, Parcells deserves recognition.
The three teams Parcells participated on from 1946-48 went 23-2-2 as Parcells was part of teams that won conference titles in 1947 and 1948 while earning All-State honors in 1948 as the Redskins went 8-0-1.
“To have Bob Parcells and Kathy Cunningham and Tim Lavery on the same (list), it’s a pretty special thing,” Seiple said.
With 31 people now been given the honor of being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, that illustrious group figures to get even better in the years to come.
“Each of the years, the list of honorees has been really impressive and the people that we have at Naperville Central that are kind of waiting in the wings and waiting their turn, they’re also extraordinary,” Seiple said. “It really speaks to the tradition and terrific history that we’ve had there.”