As a female in the pre-Title IX era, raised on a farm in northeast Kansas, Nancy Lindenmuth didn't get a lot of plate appearances until hitting the adult coed softball circuit.
Working the last 15 years as an assistant to Geneva athletic director Jim Kafer has helped keep her in the game.
"This gave me an opportunity to participate from the sidelines, so to speak, since I didn't have an opportunity to participate in sports in high school. So I always got that opportunity kind of living vicariously through my coaches and being a lover of sports as well," she said.
After 23 years in Geneva Community Unit School District 304, the friendly and helpful Lindenmuth will retire at the end of March. Her last official day as what we used to call an "athletic secretary" is March 31, though she'll undoubtedly be handy with pointers for her successor.
"Nancy is the absolute best," noted Daily Herald correspondent Darryl Mellema. "(She) will be missed."
Lindenmuth said retirement incentives, with number crunching by husband Mike, solidified her decision. That and the two 1-year-old grandchildren she can cradle. Her grown children Scott Lindenmuth and Katy Lindenmuth-Green each live in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.
"I laugh and tell people I have babies to hold," Nancy said. "That's also accelerated my thought process."
Scott Lindenmuth played soccer and basketball at Geneva before graduating in 2000. Katy was a Daily Herald all-area girls soccer captain; after graduating in 2002 she twice earned all-Big Ten at Wisconsin. In 2012 she was inducted into Geneva's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bearing a degree from Kansas State, Nancy Lindenmuth started out in social work. Once Scott and Katy were born she left that field and became a teacher's aide at Western Avenue Elementary School in Geneva. She moved into the high school dean's office before joining Kafer and then fellow assistant Dave Carli in the athletic department.
"I can't believe I've sat in this chair 15 years, it's gone by really quickly," she said. "I think when Jim and I started our school population was maybe 1,300 and now we're 1,900. And along with the school population growth has, of course, been the growth of sports."
She learned how to do a bunch of computer-related technology stuff, which no doubt helped her adjust schedules as Geneva traveled from the Little Seven Conference to the Suburban Prairie to the Western Sun to the Upstate Eight.
One stable aspect is the students themselves, at least those she sees in the athletic office.
"I think kids are kids, and one of the things I have always tried to do sitting in this seat was thinking how I would want someone to treat my children if they were standing in front of a secretary," she said. "Hopefully most of the students who've gone through this process would say they've been treated fairly."
Along with hugging those babies, Nancy plans on participating more in the church group she belongs to, puttering with her perennials, exercising later than 5 a.m.
"I don't think I'll have any trouble staying busy," she said.
He rec'd 'em
Here's a fun quote gleaned by Daily Herald correspondent Craig Brueske, who was covering St. Charles North's 62-59 boys basketball win over Kaneland last week.
Craig was speaking with Kaneland coach Brian Johnson, who praised St. Charles North junior forward Jack Callaghan and his 19 points with 9 rebounds.
"The Callaghan kid, you see him on the floor and he just looks like another guy and then he gets out there and he posts up, he shoots 3s, he shot-fakes, he's crafty," Johnson said.
"I'm probably going to see him when he's 25 years old averaging 30 (points) in the rec league."
For the future
Here's one to remember for next boys basketball season. By beating Wheaton Academy 51-48 on Wednesday night, the St. Francis sophomore squad finished with a 23-1 record and swept unbeaten through the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division.
A-OK at PBR
Top junior baseball players like Hunter Fiorito of Aurora Central Catholic and Cory Wright of St. Charles North seek to improve their college prospects by attending showcases held by Prep Baseball Report, a scouting company launched in 1995 by former prep sports writer Sean Duncan.
Players pay good money to flock to these showcases, and with good reason. More than 300 colleges subscribe to "PBR."
Fiorito, who hit .303 with both power and speed in 2013 as a sophomore infielder for 27-8 ACC, is a veteran of these events. On Feb. 16 he attended an invite-only "Preseason All-State Showcase" at The MAX in McCook.
"It went well," said Fiorito, who said that after a July 2013 showcase he was ranked fifth out of 45 infielders.
"It's fun playing with a great group of guys, great athletes," he said. "It's a great experience, and it gets your name out there, too."
Fiorito admitted that when he first attended these showcases, at the start of his sophomore year, his nerves were "a little shaky." With experience he's become comfortable getting timed in sprints, working on cutoffs, taking infield, hitting the live pitching.
The goal, said the 6-foot, 185-pounder, is a college scholarship. He's already visited Indiana State and Creighton.
The competition also can't hurt his spring season.
"He's really talented, he's very athletic. He's got the opportunity to do something really good," said ACC baseball coach Sean Bieterman. "I think he could have a very good year -- and we kind of need him to."
In August 2012 Aurora University announced plans to start an intercollegiate men's hockey team. The Spartans have come a long way in a short time.
Ranked No. 3 in the final Pacific regional rankings and bearing a record of 35-2-1, Aurora University is headed to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III National Tournament after beating Nebraska and Metro State-Denver at the regionals by a cumulative score of 13-3 on Feb. 21-22. The sole mar on Aurora's record in the last 18 games is a shootout loss to Northern Illinois on Feb. 1.
The Spartans, who play their home games at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, start pool play March 13 against Davenport at the Florida Panther Ice Den in Coral Springs. Also in Aurora's pool is California University of Pennsylvania, and Mississippi.
Should Aurora University advance, the national semifinals and finals are March 14-15, respectively.
The Spartans, led by former Naperville North and Montini coach Ryan Buchanan, have many suburban players on their roster, including freshman forward Mario Lachica of St. Charles East.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1