They come from three different eras of high school sports in Elgin, with all three of them, and their eras, being unique.
St. Edward High School, the city's second oldest high school, will enshrine three new inductees -- two individuals and a team -- into its Wall of Fame, aka Hall of Fame, next weekend when the Green Wave faithful host their annual Homecoming extravaganza.
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At halftime of the Green Wave's football game against Marian Central next Friday, the school will induct Joe Manning, Lissa Fehlman and the 1971-72 boys basketball team into its Hall of Fame and will now include some 38 individuals and 3 teams.
We're going to give way to the youngest in the group first today.
Lissa Fehlman was, without question, one of the most talented athletes to ever compete at any Elgin high school, public or private. The 2005 St. Edward graduate found her niche in softball, a game she played for 4 years at Division I Evansville University, but she was a heck of basketball player, scoring over 1,000 career points, and not bad with a tennis racket, where she was a state doubles qualifier, in her days at St. Edward.
Fehlman, who was the honorary co-captain of the Daily Herald's All-Area softball team her senior year, was an eight-time letter winner in softball -- all 4 years at St. Edward and all 4 years at Evansville. She was a Lowe's Top 30 finalist for an award that encompasses character, community and classroom as well as athletics. She volunteered in numerous community service projects and functions and was St. Edward's Margaret Ollayos Award winner her senior year.
The softball player Fehlman was is what every mom and dad want their daughters to be. She took the game seriously yet she always had fun. And man was she talented. She hit .454 with 3 homers and 33 RBI her junior year for the Green Wave's Suburban Catholic Conference championship team and then .474 with a homer and 30 RBI her senior year, leading her team to a regional championship. She played her travel ball locally for the Fox Valley Renegades and I had the honor of coaching her when she was a standout catcher and third baseman for the 2006 and 2007 Northern Illinois Lightning women's fastpitch teams that finished third each of those years at the USSSA Women's World Series.
The Elgin native went on to a stellar career at Evansville, where she was honorable mention in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2008.
Fehlman is excited about being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and for the opportunity to come home for next weekend's ceremonies. Having earned her doctorate in physical therapy, she joined the staff at St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood, Colo., just went of Denver, at the end of June.
"I loved high school," Fehlman, 25, said this week while rearranging her living room in her new apartment in Lakewood. "It's nice to reminisce about it and still be part of it. You feel like you're a part of the tradition when you're there. Something like this lets you go back and feel your roots a little bit."
Fehlman's life has also always been about family. Her dad, Dave, passed away in 2007. A former president of the Fox Valley Renegades, he was so well thought of that the annual Fox Valley Senior All-Star softball game was renamed in his memory after his passing. So it's not surprising that that Fehlman quickly tells a story about her younger brother Robbie's reaction to the newest things in Lissa's life.
"It was funny," she said. "He called me and was so excited. He said, 'Hey, you got your first big girl's paycheck and now you're being inducted into the Hall of Fame. You've really grown up.' "
Yes, she has.
1971-72 boys basketball team: I didn't go to St. Edward but one of my cousins did. I was 14 in March of 1972 and had never been to a state basketball tournament. My dad had, though, back in the days of the tournament being played at Huff Gym in Champaign. Now it was in the big saucer, the Assembly Hall. And 1972 was the first year of the two-class system in Illinois basketball. No, youngn's, there hasn't always been the watered down four class mess we have now. Two classes brought a new excitement to high school basketball and when St. Edward beat Shabbona 56-54 in overtime at old Chick Evans Field House in the NIU supersectional, my cousin secured the tickets and my dad took me to my first state tournament. We sat -- literally -- in the top row of Section C at the 16,000-seat bubble, and I don't remember one darn thing about that game, other than St. Edward lost to Mounds Meridian 54-52, and for the next 30 years my dad and I attended state tournaments together.
One of the members of that Bob Fuller-coached team, Denny Butzow, has never strayed far from St. Edward, where his three children all attend or graduated from, and where he is now starting his seventh season as Michelle Dawson's assistant coach in the girls basketball program.
Butzow, sho graduated in 1973, was a starter on that 1971-72 team that finished 25-3 and he savors the chance to walk down memory lane next weekend.
"You go back and think about the group you played with and the coaches and the type of team we had," said Butzow, who scored 8 points in the state quarterfinal loss. "It was a fundamentally sound team. We weren't very big but we had good shooters and we did everything by the book. We handled the ball well, we shot well, we played good defense and we were a good free-throw shooting team."
If another St. Edward team should be considered for a hall of fame nod it would be the 1972-73 team, Butzow's senior year. That squad finished 26-2, losing to Kaneland in a classic six-overtime game in the sectional finals, a game that I will long remember as one of the most dramatic two hours I've ever witnessed. And I was 15. Kaneland went on to finish second in the state tournament, meaning St. Edward lost to the state runner-up two straight years. That's how good those St. Edward teams were.
Joe Manning: Manning, now deceased, was the leading scorer for the St. Edward football teams of 1947 and 1948, leading the Green Wave to a conference title in 1948. He also had school records in track and then came back to St. Edward to coach track and was an assistant football coach to the legendary Greg True.
Manning eventually became the head football coach at Huntley from 1975 to 1982 and later was Huntley's athletic director until his retirement in 1994.
For further information on next weekend's Hall of Fame festivities, contact Brian Knott at (847) 269-9870 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.