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updated: 2/19/2014 10:53 PM

Wheaton Academy bringing football back to campus

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  • Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.com ¬ Mike Catalano of Lake Park plays again Fenton.

    Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.com ¬ Mike Catalano of Lake Park plays again Fenton.

  • Mike Catalano

    Mike Catalano

 
 

Wheaton Academy graduate Gene Frost remembers playing football right on campus, on the field next to Prince Crossing Road. Now Wheaton Academy's head of school, Frost presides over the effort to return the sport to the West Chicago campus.

This fall, for the first time since Wheaton Academy suspended football after the 1989 season, the new Performance Trust Field will open. Hosting contests in football, soccer and lacrosse on an artificial surface -- bids are still out for that supplier as well as for building contractors, Frost said Friday -- construction will begin after the Warriors girls soccer team concludes play in the spring. The stadium is planned to be ready for Wheaton Academy's football opener Aug. 29.

Since varsity football returned in 2007 the Warriors have played home games at either Wheaton College or West Chicago.

"It allows all our teams to practice and play on that field," Frost said. "Even our soccer teams had a hard time playing on that (grass) field, so we're real excited about that. And it's a little bit of what St. Francis experienced, 'Bring it back home.' That was a nice idea."

Frost said there wasn't room for a track encircling the "intimate" field, but it will offer lights and, for soccer, it'll be a little wider than most.

"It's pretty exciting for the soccer guys," Frost said. "That'll be a pretty distinct home field."

The name for Performance Trust Field, which Frost said will be a $1 million project, comes from the lead donation by Rich and Carrie Berg in the name of Performance Trust Capital Partners. Rich Berg is founder and chief executive officer of the firm, which has its headquarters in Chicago and several branch offices, including one in Wheaton. A son, Clayton, graduated from Wheaton Academy in 2010 after playing football for the Warriors.

The Bergs and seven other Performance Trust donors combined to offer what a Wheaton Academy news release termed a "challenge grant" to be matched by school donors "outside its usual support base." Frost said 40 boosters representing the football, boys and girls soccer and boys lacrosse programs met that challenge by Christmas.

Frost described the Bergs as "grateful parents that want to see this school's ministry enhanced."

Let the enhancements begin.

"We're just excited the Friday night lights will be back on the Wheaton Academy campus," Frost said.

Welcome to the club

Phil Salzer of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association just released the list of 2014 inductees into the IHSFCA Hall of Fame. They include several with local ties.

Lisle athletic director Dan Dillard is going in. He didn't coach the Lions, but before arriving here he won a lot at Farmington. Bob Stone had his greatest success at Joliet Catholic but more recently coached at West Chicago.

Carl Favaro goes in as a "career coach" whose stops include Glenbard North. And Waubonsie Valley's Paul Murphy, who one day will be inducted, is this year's winner of the Ray Eliot Award for Meritorious Service.

Welcome to the club II

In this space it's hard to match the eloquent and painstakingly researched articles written about each member of the second induction class into the Naperville Central Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony will he held at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, with an 8 p.m. reception at Jimmy's Grill in Naperville.

Superstars such as Candace Parker and Elizabeth Lumpkin comprised last year's inaugural class, but at a school as steeped in tradition as Naperville Central there is no falloff. Not when John Harshbarger, namesake of the Redhawks' football stadium, is going in.

The selection committee recognized stalwarts from five different decades. Along with coaches Harshbarger, Jon Carlson and Judy Shull, the 12-person class ranges from three-sport prep stars such as Tyler Turnquist and Rich Erickson to gold medal winners John Clawson and Ellen Stonebraker.

Bob Ehrhard and Sean Payton excelled in amateur and professional athletics. Track star Jerry Pickell called Naperville his home for life; Elizabeth Gower and Sonya "Sunni" Steck are raising families elsewhere.

Asked her advice to current student-athletes, gymnast and soccer star Steck was quoted as saying: "Do your best in school, as it opens up so many opportunities for your future. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Most of all, be present. Enjoy the moments high school brings you. Before you'll know it, you'll be at your 20-year reunion!"

Or your 30th. Congratulations to this class.

Striking

Last week Lake Park's Mike Catalano was announced as the Gatorade Illinois boys soccer player of the year.

Captain of the 2013 DuPage All-Area Boys Soccer Team, the Wisconsin-bound senior forward scored 30 goals with 10 assists to lead the Lancers to fourth place in Class 3A.

Catalano is now a finalist for the Gatorade national boys soccer award, to be announced in May. He's the Lancers' second boys soccer player to be recognized by Gatorade; Joe Cormany won the Illinois award in 1990.

Lake Park has made quite a run at this thing, especially of late. Joining Cormany and Catalano, past Lancers recipients include track athletes Anthony Moorman (1997), Dan Block (2009) and Zach Ziemek (2010), softball player Stephanie Blaigach (2005) and cross country runner Lindsay Flanagan (2009).

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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