Jennifer Haley remembers well when girls sports got no newspaper coverage and, well, generally were an afterthought.
Haley graduated from Larkin High School in 1976, a short four years after Title IX became a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any federally funded education program or activity.
Haley was a pioneer of sorts when it comes to female athletes in Elgin. She played four varsity sports and led her basketball and softball teams to Larkin's first Upstate Eight Conference championships for girls in those sports before she went on to play softball and volleyball on scholarship at Eastern Illinois, a precursor to what became a career of teaching, coaching and being an administrator in Elgin Area School District U-46, with the majority of her time spent at Streamwood High School. She coached the Sabres to sectional championships in volleyball in 1985-86 and 1988-89.
Sunday night, Haley and four other deserving individuals will be inducted to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame when the ESHOF holds its 38th annual induction ceremony and recognition banquet at The Centre of Elgin.
Joining Haley in the induction ceremony will be 1975 Larkin grad Dave Huxtable, 1990 Elgin alum Jessie Henderson, Bob Pleticha and Bethany Goldsmith.
The 1967 Larkin football team and the 1995-96 Elgin girls basketball team will receive team recognition, Dennis DeBoer and Deryl Carter will be awarded the Vic Masi Award, nearly 30 scholarships to 2017 graduates will be awarded and myriad outstanding achievement awards will be presented at the gala, which is sold out.
"It's really exciting and it's been such a great reflective experience, a humbling experience," Haley said earlier this week. "When you're living the dream you don't realize how special it is -- competing and getting to go to college on scholarship. I'm so grateful for the opportunities I had. I never realized what Title IX meant to female athletes. It became apparent through the whole journey how lucky we were."
Haley joked during our conversation that many times through her career she wasn't identified for her athletic accomplishments as much as she was for being the daughter of legendary Larkin football coach and athletic director Ray Haley, who coached the undefeated 1967 Royals who will be recognized Sunday.
But she was also quick to point out how the ESHOF has always been an equal opportunity organization, recognizing females as equally as males.
"Female athletes from my generation owe a debt of gratitude to Ron Lange and the board of directors for being open to our stories," Haley said.
•Jessie Henderson was one of the best basketball players to ever compete on the now-gone rubber floor at Elgin High's Chesbrough Field House.
He was the leading scorer on coach Jim Harrington's 1990 Elite Eight team and he graduated as the program's fifth leading scorer with 1,111 points. He also played three years at UIC and last year was inducted to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
"This is the greatest feeling," Henderson, who now lives in West Dundee, said of being inducted on Sunday. "I just feel so blessed and it's a humbling experience. This is something I can pass along to my children and other children. I want to use this platform that God gave me to encourage and inspire young people. I'm so thankful."
Henderson said one of his favorite memories of playing basketball at EHS was being called up to the varsity team as a sophomore for the postseason.
"But my biggest memory," he said, "is playing for Jim Harrington and all of my teammates. Jim Harrington is the best coach I ever played for."
•Dave Huxtable is being inducted for his 35-year career coaching college football.
Huxtable, who played for Ray Haley at Larkin, is currently the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at North Carolina State. He's been there five years, the longest stint he's had in his career, a career that has taken him from being a grad assistant at Iowa State to coaching special teams, linebackers and being a defensive coordinator at, among others, Georgia Tech, East Carolina, North Carolina, Central Florida, Wisconsin and Pitt. He's coached in the Rose Bowl, the Liberty Bowl and the Peach Bowl, among others, and was named National Linebackers Coach of the Year by Football Scoop in 2011.
•Bob Pleticha is being inducted as a friend of sports and for his achievements in weightlifting. He is a four-time world weightlifting champion and a 15-time National Powerlifting Association champion. Pleticha founded the Elgin Sharks running club in 1980, an organization that has grown to over 100 participants annually with many coming from underprivileged backgrounds in Elgin and surrounding communities.
•Bethany Goldsmith, a 1944 Elgin High graduate, is being inducted as a baseball player. She played for three seasons in the all-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was the subject of the film A League of Their Own.
•Dennis DeBoer will be receiving the Vic Masi Service Award posthumously. He served the ESHOF as a member of the board of directors for 32 years, including president. In addition, he coached in youth sports (including Classic Little League baseball) was an assistant football coach at St. Edward High School for many years.
•Deryl Carter is also receiving the Vic Masi Award. Carter is a longtime Elginite who created the Channing YMCA Youth Basketball League in 1984. He coached softball and baseball for many years, including leading the 1994 and 1995 Big League softball teams to the World Series. He has made a significant contribution to the families of the southwest side of Elgin, providing thousands of hours of volunteer time to the expansion of the Elgin Continental Little League. He is currently his daughter Corry's assistant coach on the Whitney Young girls basketball team and a volunteer assistant for his son Deryn's Larkin boys basketball team.