Anyone who has followed softball in the Mid-Suburban League the past few decades has seen some pretty impressive play.
They've even seen a couple of Hall of Fame coaches in Elk Grove's Ken Grams and Barrington's Perry Peterson.
Now they can say they've seen a Hall of Fame umpire.
Hoffman Estates resident Dan Krueger was inducted into the Illinois Softball Coaches Association Umpire Hall of Fame on Sunday in Bloomington.
In his 27 years behind the plate and on the bases, he has seen some of the top talent in Illinois while primarily working the MSL, North Suburban, Upstate Eight and DuPage Valley conferences.
As far as the top MSL players, he considers former Buffalo Grove and Illinois standout Lindsey Hamma and Hersey and DePaul star Karen Stewart Kanupke among the best.
Hamma (English teacher) is now the Hoffman Estates head softball coach and Kanupke (math teacher) is a former head softball coach at Prospect.
"There are so many to choose from but in my opinion, the couple that come to mind as the best all-around MSL softball athletes that I had the pleasure of umpiring are Karen Stewart and Lindsey Hamma," said Kruger, who has been an IHSA ump for 27 seasons and says working in the MSL has been one of the highlights.
"Some of the best high school softball is played each year in the MSL with some of the most accomplished head softball coaches in the state," added Krueger, a 1981 graduate of Lake Park and 1985 grad of Bradley. "I have been fortunate to work many MSL softball championship games and working the 2012 Barrington 4A sectional with Elk Grove, Conant, Fremd, and Barrington was an experience I will never soon forget."
"All four teams were among the best in the state and champion Elk Grove made it downstate. Each sectional game was well played and the championship game lived up to everyone's expectations. As the plate umpire during the sectional final, that is all that I can ask for."
Krueger officiated the state finals in 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2009.
He was Umpire-in-Chief in 2008 (3A/4A), 2010 (3A/4A), and 2011 (1A/2A). Krueger was named 2007 IHSA Softball Umpire of the Year and he is also an IHSA certified softball clinician and state softball rules interpreter.
He has also officiated at the collegiate (24 years) and professional level.
He had duties for the NCAA post-season regionals in 2000 (D-III), 2001 (D-III), 2005 (D-II), 2008 (D-II), and 2009 (D-II). Krueger has officiated twelve NCAA Division II and six Division III conference softball tournaments.
"I would like to sincerely thank my family, my dearest friend Cora De Jesus, fellow IHSA softball clinician and assignor Carl Berns, IHSA softball administrator Matt Troha, and all softball umpires that I have had the pleasure to work with during my 27 years," Krueger said. "A special thanks also goes out to the Illinois Softball Coaches Association for the opportunity to be among the many talented softball umpires and coaches as an ICA softball Umpire Hall of Fame inductee. This is quite an honor and I feel truly blessed to receive this award."
Krueger has umpired for the Women's National Pro Fast Pitch League since 2005.
He currently works for U.S. Cellular Corporation in Bensenville.
Sports Notes trivia
Speaking of umpires, can you name a retired school teacher from District 211 who not only officiated Mid-Suburban League varsity softball games but also was a head softball coach and girls basketball coach in the same league?
Answer at the end of column.
Former St. Viator lineman Emmett Cleary has been invited to the NFL Combine in February.
The offensive tackle earned Boston College football's highest honor -- the Scanlan Award, presented to the senior who best exemplifies the ideals of Tom Scanlan; scholar, athlete, gentleman and friend.
Cleary, a starter on Boston College's offensive line for the last 2½ years, earned his bachelor's degree in biology last May and is pursuing a master's degree in management from Boston College's Carroll School of Management.
He started all 12 games at left tackle this fall. He blocked for junior quarterback Chase Rettig, who became just the fourth quarterback in BC history to throw for more than 3,000 yards.
Cleary, who started all 24 games on the offensive line over the last two years, blocked for tailback Rolandan Finch, who recorded back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts - 138 yards against Virginia Tech (Nov. 17) and 144 at NC State (Nov. 24) - to close the season.
The Gridiron Club also announced Cleary as one of the winners of the 67th annual Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award for exceptional achievement in sportsmanship, academics, and athletics. Cleary received the award in the Bowl/Championship divisions.
Cleary played in the Raycom All Star Classic on Jan 19 in Montgomery, Ala. and was also invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis later this month.
Illinois Wesleyan senior Kevin Reed (Prospect)was named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Men's Basketball Player of the Week.
Reed helped lead the Titans to their first conference title since 2005 last week. He finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds in just 18 minutes of playing time during an 88-44 victory over North Park.
He followed that game with 22 points and 8 rebounds in a 78-59 win over Carthage, which clinched the CCIW title.
Miami of Ohio freshman Ryan McKay of Palatine was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Goaltender of the Week.
McKay stopped 29 shots and was named the Perani Cup second star in a 4-0 shutout win at Western Michigan that earned the Redhawks a split with the Broncos.
Harley Helping Hands
Harley Helping Hands will hold its 2013 Spring Soiree at Venue One on Saturday, April 13 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. in a fundraiser to help fight brain cancer.
Guests will enjoy cocktails, appetizers & desserts while they dance the night away to live music performed by the Larry King Orchestra.
Additionally, there will be bidding on sports memorabilia & tickets, trips, jewelry, hotel stays and much more at an extensive silent auction.
VIP seating is available through Gold & Silver Sponsorships.
For more information, go to http://www.harleyhelpinghands.org/ss2013
Tickets are $85 if purchased before Feb. 20.
Rachel Harley is a Schaumburg graduate and her HHH foundation has donated $230,000 to local brain cancer fighters in three years.
Men's track and field
Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) junior Phil Cano (Fremd) qualified for the second year in a row for the NAIA National championship in the 1000-meter run.
Cano will travel to The Spire in Geneva, Ohio, from Feb. 28 to March 2 to compete. He was recruited to IIT on a cross country scholarship and is one of the team' top long distance runners.
Cano is also a hopeful for the outdoor 800-run this spring.
University of Minnesota defenseman Megan Bozek, who was strong at both ends of the ice as the visiting and No. 1-ranked Golden Gophers won back-to-back conference road games at Ohio State to remain unbeaten and untied.
For her efforts, Bozek of Buffalo Grove has been named the Women's Collegiate Hockey Association Women's Defensive Player of the Week.
Bozek also earned the weekly honor in November.
A senior captain from Buffalo Grove, Bozek contributed 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points, fired 14 shots on goal and earned a +3 plus/minus rating in Minnesota's 5-2 and 5-3 victories over at Ohio State.
She notched a short-handed goal and 1 assist and then came back with another goal in the next game against the Buckeyes.
Minnesota completed the sweep to move to move to a perfect 30-0-0 on the season.
Bozek's second goal of the series was the 42nd of her collegiate career, making her the school record-holder for career goals by a defenseman, eclipsing the 41 scored by Winny Brodt.
Over 146 collegiate games, Bozek has now produced 133 points with 42 goals and 91 assists.
Former Conant varsity softball coach Jerry Cunningham was also an umpire for MSL softball. He even worked an MSL championship softball game. Cunningham also coached the Conant varsity girls basketball team in the 1998 MSL championship game.
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