Born and raised in London, Ontario, Guy Callipari could have developed a hockey wrist shot by the time he entered preschool.
Not to be. His father, Joe, was a soccer buff who emigrated to Canada from Italy at age 15.
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"I could have put on skates, but that didn't happen," said Guy Callipari, Christian name of Joseph. "Soccer became our passion."
Parents Joe and Lauraine will reap the fruits of their fanaticism on June 7, when Callipari, who entering Wednesday had coached 904 Wheaton Warrenville South boys and girls soccer games, is inducted into the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Admitting members in a trickle since the first hall of fame class in 1988, Callipari becomes only the 47th inductee. The roster includes Naperville North's Al Harris and David Bucher, Lake Park's Norm Hillner, Downers Grove South's Barry Jacobson and Naperville Central's John Paskvalich.
"One of the things I enjoy is the idea that I'm going in representation of the city of Wheaton -- which I feel like it's my home -- the high school, its administration, its soccer staff and, mostly, your players," Callipari said. "It's been a tremendous journey for me, so many positives as far as how it's formulated who I am and how I function. It's been tremendous."
A physical education and health instructor, Callipari will be inducted as a girls coach despite 21 boys seasons to 18 for the girls. On the boys side his record is 261-167-71; with the girls Callipari is 281-83-41. He hopes to continue coaching both through his retirement, which won't happen for another 13 years.
That time frame would normally put a teacher in his or her early 40s. Callipari got a late start because wonder of wonders, he was playing soccer.
Coming out of Eastern Illinois, where he was a scholarship player, in 1985 he student-taught at Evanston under former Wildkits coach Tom Chmela. Through Chmela, Callipari met his wife, Dyann, with whom he has three children.
Before Callipari "found my niche" in teaching and coaching again in 1991, helping Libertyville's Andy Bitta win the girls state title, he played professionally in London and Belgium. He also played three stints with the Canadian National Team.
Shifting addresses to start the 1991-92 school year, Callipari sought the advice of WW South football coaches John Thorne and Ron Muhitch on establishing program continuity through the use of tradition.
"And that's kind of how it started," he said.
He's built his own tradition in soccer and now stands as the third Tiger to be inducted into the IHSSCA Hall after players Charlie Fajkus and Christine Tomek.
Noting those two, Callipari illustrates how a man as friendly as he is can be just as competitive.
"I'm thrilled to be the third," he said. "I believe that is equal to the number of representatives out of New Trier. I'm thrilled with that as well."
Power in the paint
A pair of Daily Herald All-Area 6-foot-8 centers, Benet's Sean O'Mara and Naperville Central's Nick Czarnowski, will square off in the 16th annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown.
The tripleheader just announced by The Integrity Group's Bob Rylko, who doggedly seeks the best pairings to satisfy hoops fans, will again be held at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, on Jan. 26, 2013.
Benet and Naperville Central, which haven't played in some six years, get the second game at 6:30 p.m. Leading off in the "rivals" game between East Suburban Catholic Conference foes Notre Dame and St. Viator.
The 8:30 p.m. nightcap should also be a winner: West Aurora's Gordie Kerkman and St. Joseph's Gene Pingatore, a pair of hall of fame coaches with more than 1,500 wins between them, both off 20-win seasons. They haven't faced each other since the 1984 Class AA Tournament, Kerkman's Blackhawks winning to finish third in state.
Hinsdale Central boys track coach Jim Kupres is hoping for big numbers, both in participants and donations, for this Sunday's fifth annual Walk the Walk for Autism to benefit the Charlie's Gift Autism Center in Downers Grove.
Started by Hinsdale Central's Character Counts program, Kupres has been involved for each of the five years and has involved members of his team in volunteerism and fundraising (about $5,000 last year) for the 3-mile walk. In 2011 some 700 people did the loop, which starts at Hinsdale Central at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Beginning with a little more than $29,000 earned in 2008, the event has raised $204,487 with a high-water mark of $72,886 last year. That's huge, when $500 can provide for therapy at summer camp for an autistic child, plus a handful of individual sessions.
All pertinent information, including registration, is available at charliesgift.com.
Welcome to the club
The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association will induct its 2012 Hall of Fame class on Saturday at Illinois State University. It's a proud day for several local coaches and athletes, whom we listed when it was initially announced. Here's an area recap.
Coaches Todd Sutton of Neuqua Valley, Andy Nussbaum of Naperville Central, the retired Paul Runyon of Downers Grove South;
Players Bryan Mullins of Downers South and Henry Domercant of Naperville North -- whose former coach, Mark Lindo, said is playing professionally in Russia and making a ton of cake;
The College of DuPage's 2002 national championship men's basketball team;
The great Downers South public address announcer John Mizener as a "friend of basketball";
Finally, into the media wing goes the Daily Herald's own Marty Maciaszek.
The IBCA also honors district coaches of the year. They include girls coaches Rob Kroehnke of Wheaton Warrenville South, Peter Paul of Benet, Mike Williams of Neuqua Valley and Kim Connell of Waubonsie Valley. Boys coaches Bob Ward of St. Francis and Jay Baum of Downers South will be saluted, as will men's college coaches Todd Raridon of North Central and Mike Schauer of Wheaton.
The bee's knees
Steve Congenie is back in action.
Entering the wrestling season we'd checked in on the Willowbrook senior, a three-time all-state wrestler and two-time state champion.
In August he'd had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and was considering whether to try to compete or wait the mandated six months and prepare for college wrestling at Cornell.
"I was out there for support for our guys who were going to go to state, but I didn't wrestle at all," Congenie said Tuesday.
He's back now. Resuming training in the beginning of March, on March 30 he won the 195-pound title at the USA Wrestling ASICS Junior Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, sweeping five matches.
"I don't have any problems," said Congenie, who also had surgery to repair a torn left ACL in May of his sophomore year. "I don't even know that it's there.
"I've been torturing this knee ever since I got back -- wrestling, pickup football games, gym class. I torture it just like any other kid does."
He said his knees "make a little bit of noise sometimes when I stand up in the morning, but that's about it."
Despite the torturous statement above, Congenie takes certain precautions. He wears some sort of protection on his knees, if only pads, and is limiting his competition schedule to a couple big-ticket meets in May and perhaps joining Team Illinois for duals in Oklahoma in July, if he doesn't leave for Cornell first.
He's also wrestling smarter. At the ASICS Congenie led an opponent 10-0 and was in position to dish him more punishment when he felt it was not worth the risk.
"You don't take the stupid chances of when you were a little greener," he said.
Owning a pair of what his mother, Kari, calls "bionic knees," Congenie will keep things simple until he has to kick it up several notches at Cornell.
"I will not be in college shape, but I'll be somewhat ready to go in there," he said, "because it's going to be a little bit harder."