Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2012
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media September 19, 2012 11:08PM
Sarah Kustok speaks during her Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame induction at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero Wednesday, September 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
FROM THE DAIS
Quotes from the area Hall of Famers’ speeches.
Mark Donahue: “I’m lucky enough to have my mother and father here. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. I’m also lucky to have my wife, Kathy, here and we’ve been married 34 years so we only have 26 more to go, so hang in there.”
Napoleon Harris: “I want to thank my loving wife, Nicole. She was a cheerleader at my high school. Whenever anyone asks whatever happened to the finest cheerleader in high school, I say, ‘I married her.’ ’’
Bob Hallberg: “In the schoolyard I used to pretend I was Luis Apraricio. Now I’m in the same Hall of Fame as him.”
Sarah Kustok: “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. This couldn’t be a better night to be back home.”
Bill Weick: “I’ve been married to my wife for 40 years — four
decades. They were long years. I mean, they were short years. Hoo boy, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:42PM
Just call them the Southland Super Six.
Six south suburban area coaches or former athletes were inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony Wednesday night at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero.
Former Brother Rice football star Mark Donahue, former Thornton football star Napoleon Harris, St. Xavier women’s basketball coach Bob Hallberg, former Bloom track star Elzie Higginbottom, former Sandburg and DePaul basketball player (and current sports announcer) Sarah Kustok and Brother Rice wrestling coach Bill Weick were inducted.
Among the other inductees were Bo Jackson, John Calipari, Paul Hornung, Bill Madlock, Jimmy Piersall and Otis Wilson.
Hallberg played basketball at St. Leo Grammar School, Leo High School and Chicago Teachers’ College, which now is Chicago State University.
The Oak Lawn resident has 787 college victories with St. Xavier’s men’s and women’s teams, Chicago State and UIC. Throw in five years at Kennedy High School and the 68-year-old has 880 coaching wins.
Is reaching 1,000 career wins out of the question?
“In my timetable, it’s achievable,” he said before the induction ceremony. “I have no plans for retirement. When people ask me how long I plan to be around, I joke and say, ‘You mean coaching or living?’ But I plan on being around awhile. I’m 68, but I don’t feel like it.
“Last year, when we lost a game to St. Francis I told the players I was mad. I was mad because we should have won that ballgame. The day I can walk in that locker room and not be upset anymore after a loss — that’s the time I’ll retire.
“As long as I have the passion to do this, I’ll still do it,” Hallberg added. “When I was 18 I was amazed that my 50-year-old uncle was still dancing at a birthday party. I thought 50 was real old. I don’t know how young I feel, but I know it’s not 68.’’
He said he also was proud of being a player and coach in the Chicago area for his entire career. He said he was also honored to be mentioned in the same breath with some of the other honorees.
“I think there’s a little difference between Calipari and Bob Hallberg,” Hallberg said. “Yeah, we’re on the same level.”
Kustok, who earlier in the year left Chicago for a job as an anchor/reporter for the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York, was the Sun-Times Girls Basketball High School Player of the Year in 2000 and ranked fourth in school history in three-point field goal shooting.
The 30-year-old said she was humbled to be in a Hall of Fame that already features her former DePaul coach, Doug Bruno, and former White Sox star Bill Melton, whom she worked with at Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
“Just look at all of these names in the Hall of Fame and the names of the Hall of Famers inducted (Wednesday),” she said before the ceremony. “My goodness, it is surreal.”
After a career with Brother Rice, Donahue played football for Michigan and was a guard for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1978 and ’79.
Harris played football for four years and basketball for a season at Northwestern before embarking on a seven-year NFL career with Oakland, Minnesota and Kansas City. He lives in Flossmoor, and is running for the seat in the state Senate’s 15th District.
Higginbottom was an All-American track star for Wisconsin in 1963, with the 440-yard dash as his specialty. He held a school record in that event for 20 years. He was unable to attend the event.
Weick has coached wrestling at Mount Carmel and Brother Rice. Before becoming a coach, he won an NCAA wrestling title as an athlete in 1952 and ’55. He been an Olympic coach, and had 749 coaching wins as a high school coach.