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updated: 1/27/2016 9:55 PM

A Glenbard North fan through and through

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  • Glenbard North super-fan Cindy Nuti poses with Panthers football coach Ryan Wilkens.

    Glenbard North super-fan Cindy Nuti poses with Panthers football coach Ryan Wilkens.
    Photo courtesy of Cindy Nuti

 
 

Cindy Nuti is unmarried, but she's cared for thousands of children.

They attend her alma mater, Glenbard North, rolling through in four-year stretches playing football, softball, basketball, baseball and other Panthers sports, boys and girls alike.

A 1979 graduate of the Carol Stream school, last fall Nuti celebrated her 25th year as, officially, a varsity football statistician.

A special-education teacher's aide at Glenbard East, Nuti -- pronounced "nooti" -- is actually a multisport supporter whose dedication transcends the term, "super fan."

"I just love it, it's a passion," said Nuti, who during Glenbard North's 2015 football awards ceremony received taped congratulations from one of her favorites, Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, as well as from Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. An unrequited goal of hers is to attend a Wildcats game to watch Jackson play.

"I just go and have fun and enjoy and support the team, especially football. That's what I tell people, is that's my sport because I do a lot for that sport," Nuti said.

Even metaphysically. She banned her mother, Helen, from attending games because Glenbard North once lost when she was there.

"I told her she can't come back," Cindy said. "She's a jinx."

Besides supporting football she has attended Pantherettes dance competitions, has made gifts for players on the softball team and maintains and updates school display cases highlighting fall, winter and spring sports.

She owns a gifted Glenbard North letterman's jacket with her year of graduation, varsity and junior varsity letters and, on the back, football, basketball and softball patches.

Nuti even has accompanied injured players to the hospital. A few years ago Ryan Krueger required surgery after an injury during a basketball game. When he came out of surgery at Central DuPage Hospital, Nuti was there to see how he was.

It all started when she was a freshman at Glenbard North. A huge prep football fan whose brother, Ralph, played there, she created a football scrapbook and, proud of it, had then-Panthers coach Dale Evans sign it.

Years later as an adult she asked Evans if there was anything she could do to help the team. That led to her compiling statistics on the sidelines for both home and away games.

"He wasn't quite sure if I'd come out when the weather is nice and forget about the other (days)," Nuti said. "No, he quickly found out that I'd come out if there were rain, snow, ice, whatever."

On Evans' invitation, Nuti has attended the weddings of his three children. She still visits the retired coach and, in fact, reported he is slowly coming back from recent knee surgery.

"It's been tough," she said.

Not just a stats geek, Nuti choreographs football senior night, helps with homecoming decorations and the program's pasta dinners, and has made countless posters and gifts for players and their parents.

She's missed one Panthers football game in 25 years and has joined the team for each of its four state championship appearances. She once postponed hip replacement surgery until football season finished.

The scrapbook idea didn't end with Evans' retirement. Nuti has made several for his successor, Ryan Wilkens.

"Cindy is a very important part of our program," said Wilkens, who last fall presented Nuti with a Northwestern jersey signed by Jackson. For senior night Wilkens ordered a wrist corsage and flower arrangement delivered to her at Glenbard East.

"She takes stats for every game, helps us on our special days such as picture day, parent day, homecoming and awards night," Wilkens said. "Cindy follows several teams at Glenbard North, not just football -- both basketball teams,

the baseball team, the softball team."

Nuti has no intention to hang up the clipboard or super-fan mantle any time soon -- just "as long as the coach would like to have me."

"As long as I can get on the field and feel healthy, I just love doing it," she said. "I look forward to it every year. I start doing a countdown in February."

Better late than never

Apologies for the less-than-timely nature of the following items ...

The DuPage Heritage Gallery, a neat little niche in the DuPage County government complex in Wheaton, announced on Jan. 12 that Wheaton North senior Luke Anthony is the 2015 Red Grange Award winner.

The annual award is given to the District 200 high school football player who "best demonstrates a combination of athletic skill, sportsmanship and scholastic ability," the gallery's release stated.

Anthony punched those tickets with service on Wheaton North's Athletic Leadership Council, a two-time all-DuPage Valley Conference quarterback who threw for more than 1,700 yards with 9 touchdowns. He currently plays for the Falcons boys basketball team.

Anthony will accept his award at the DuPage Heritage Gallery on or near Red Grange's birthday in June.

For those keeping track at home, Wheaton Warrenville South athletes have earned 17 Grange Awards (Jon Beutjer and Jon Schweighardt shared it in 1999), Wheaton North 15 and dearly departed Wheaton Central 6, Wheaton Warrenville 5.

The day before the Gallery's announcement the Illinois High School Association released its list of state coaches of the year based on performances during the 2014-15 season.

Among them were Willowbrook's Annette Nocek for girls gymnastics, Wheaton Academy's Jeff Brooke for boys soccer, Glenbard West's Christine Mayer for boys volleyball, Benet's Joe Kilbride for girls basketball, Naperville North's Dan Iverson for girls cross country and Benet's Brad Baker for girls volleyball.

That's a strong list.

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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