Geneva High to honor Hall of Fame inductees
Submitted by Geneva Unit District 304
On Friday, Feb. 7, a reception to honor the 2014 inductees into the Geneva Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame will be held during halftime of Geneva vs. Streamwood boys' varsity basketball game. Tip-off will be at 7:15 p.m.
The honorees are Jeff Ainsworth, Class of '68; Jim Klein, Class of 1990; and Jackie Santacaterina, Class of 2006. The 14th annual induction ceremony will be held in the north balcony of the school's main contest gym, 416 McKinley. After the game, enjoy a reception with coffee and cake.
The inductees include a late-1960s football and wrestling standout who made a career of teaching and coaching both sports in the Western suburbs; a football receiver and track sprinter who went on to football stardom at the University of Illinois and who is now a university professor; and a Viking soccer superstar who became soccer MVP and team captain at the University of Illinois, and is now playing soccer professionally when she's not doing overseas mission work and helping counsel young athletes.
The inductees are chosen by a committee of former Geneva sports journalists, Viking athletic alumni and coaches.
• Ainsworth was the rock around whom Jerry Auchstetter could build both his offensive and defensive lines on the legendary head coach's very first Viking football team in fall 1967.
Ainsworth helped Auchstetter reverse a run of mediocre Geneva teams with a 6-2 record that season, and in so doing, was a unanimous All-Conference selection at guard, along with being chosen first-team All-Area by four regional newspapers.
During winter he was a top-rated wrestler. His senior year, wrestling heavyweight, he went 25-3 with 16 pins, winning the Little Seven Conference championship, first place in the District meet and was a Sectional qualifier.
Earning a four-year football scholarship to Northern Illinois University, Ainsworth was a starting offensive lineman for the Huskies both of his final two seasons. He took his education degree to West Chicago High School in 1973, where he spent a 33-year career coaching and teaching physical education and driver's education, and serving as dean of students.
Ainsworth coached West Chicago football for 15 years, serving as Wildcats' head football coach from 1983-88 -- and becoming Auchstetter's first former player to coach against him from the other sideline. Also at West Chicago, he coached wrestling for 15 seasons and track for 16 seasons. Since 2008 he has helped out his alma mater by coaching Viking freshman wrestlers.
• Klein was an undersized receiver, even for high school at 5-9 and 150 pounds, when he wore the blue and white for Coach Larry Davis during the 1987-89 seasons. But he made use of strategic football knowledge -- "knowing where all 11 defenders are" -- as an equalizer throughout his grid career.
From Davis's first year as head coach in '87, he used Klein's sprinter's speed as a kick returner and occasionally at wide receiver. But as a junior in 1988, Klein was Viking quarterback Chad Ciesil's go-to target (as well as seeing a lot of reps at tailback) as the Vikings roared back from a 7-2 record with conference losses to Morris and Oswego, to beat both Marmion and Wilmington in the postseason, getting as far as the Class 3A semifinals at Herscher.
Klein was first-team All-Conference as a junior. That spring, 1989, he led the Viking track team to a third-place overall finish at the Illinois Class A Meet. After his senior year, he participated in the Shrine All-Illinois All-Star football game at Normal, and started college at Western Illinois University, where he lettered in football in fall 1990 as a freshman. But he wanted a bigger stage.
No Big Ten team had offered him a scholarship -- no doubt scared off by his small size. But Illinois head coach John Mackovic did agree to let him participate as a walk-on -- so Klein transferred to Champaign-Urbana in January 1991, and had to sit out the 1991 season as a redshirt.
He finally dressed in fall '92 as a sophomore under new coach Lou Tepper. He won attention in an August '92 scrimmage with two kick-return TDs and another on a reception -- and Tepper placed him in the rotation as a receiver. He would earn letters each of the next three years.
As a junior in fall 1993, Klein and the Illini had to play Michigan on the road in Ann Arbor -- where the Illini hadn't won a game in 22 years. In a nationally televised contest on Oct. 23, 1993, with 40 seconds left in the game and the Wolverines leading the Illini 21-17, on fourth-and-6, Klein beat his defender to the left corner of the end zone and caught Johnny Johnson's pass for the 24-21 victory.
It was Klein's only TD reception of the season -- but a big one.
Klein earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1995, and a master's degree in social work in 1999 from Northern Illinois University. He worked as a student counselor briefly at Mooseheart Child City & School in the Fox Valley, before beginning work on his doctorate at NIU.
After that he taught at NIU for two years; since 2007 he has been a professor of education and counseling at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Klein and his wife, the former Chris Gehring, GHS '94, reside in Springfield with their 7-year-old son.
• Santacaterina's athleticism and leadership were acknowledged immediately as a high school freshman in 2002-03, as she was a varsity starter in both basketball and soccer. She was First-Team All-Area in soccer as a freshman in spring 2003.
As a sophomore in spring 2004, she was the Kane County Player of the Year, Conference MVP, and was named to the Illinois All-State team. She repeated those latter two achievements as a junior in spring 2005 when she led the Vikings to a third-place state finish in Class AA.
Santacaterina switched to club soccer exclusively during her senior year, playing on an Illinois Olympic Development Team that took second nationally and the Eclipse Select team that won a national championship.
Earning a scholarship to the University of Illinois, she was an All-Big Ten selection during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, team captain as both a junior and senior, team MVP as a senior, and on the Academic All-Big Ten team as a senior. She is one of just 11 Illini players to amass more than 1,000 playing minutes in her career.
In 2010 Santacaterina was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars of the Women's Professional Soccer League; in 2012 she was named to the league's All-Star team. Outside soccer, Santacaterina has performed missionary work in the west African nation of Ghana. She is also the founder/owner of TRUE, an organization dedicated to the training, recovery, understanding and education of young athletes.