Diverse group to receive St. Charles' Jodie Harrison awards
What do you get when you combine a longtime band director, illustrious soccer coach, record-breaking soccer standout and Major League Baseball player?
A quartet honored as Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2016, selected to join the St. Charles (East) High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
The annual ceremony begins prior to Saturday's 6 p.m. boys varsity basketball game between St. Charles North and St. Charles East.
Jeffrey Childs (1969-1994)
As the band director and an assistant soccer coach, Childs devoted countless hours to his students and players at St. Charles High School.
"It was a wonderful surprise," Childs said after learning of his nomination. "Honestly, I'm not sure which part got me the ball to the Hall of Fame."
The answer is both.
In 25 years, Childs never missed a home football game, home basketball game or pep assembly -- from the days leading the band at Reid Field to a new beginning at Norris Stadium.
A trombone player himself during his collegiate days at Northwestern University, Childs understood the importance a band could make at athletic events.
"I remember when we used to trade off marching from the high school to Geneva for football games," he said. "It was pretty cool because it felt like the high school was in the middle of town.
"I think we excited a few neighborhood dogs when we practiced in the streets."
Childs also had an opportunity to coach his son as a soccer assistant.
"I always wanted to coach even though I felt being the band director was like being a coach," he said.
Joe Moreau (1995-2002)
Few coaches achieved more in a short time than Joe Moreau did at St. Charles (East).
Moreau, who became the head varsity girls soccer coach in 1995, guided the Saints to an amazing record of 198-11-21 in his 8 seasons.
After the Saints placed third in the state during Moreau's first year as head coach, his teams captured an unprecedented 5 consecutive state championships from 1996-2000.
"The players were special," said Moreau, who now coaches girls soccer at Neuqua Valley. "They were great kids who worked so hard."
Despite all the success, Moreau fondly remembers the little things, too.
"Some of the best memories from our seasons were the practices," recalled Moreau.
How good were his teams?
During a 3-year period that spanned from 1996 to 1999, the Saints posted a remarkable 88-game unbeaten streak.
Moreau had the opportunity to coach several talented players, including Laurie Seidl, Julie Atkocaitis, Becky Myers, Anne Poulin, Lynley Hilligoss, and Patrice Feulner.
"We also had great assistant coaches like Sue Soderberg, Bret Hall, Jim Fredricksen, Joe Dowling, Ruth Poulin (Vostal), Merit Elzey and Angie Raiff," said Moreau.
"It was a special time."
Matt Reynolds (Class of 2003)
Reynolds has gone from starring on the high school baseball diamond all the way up to the Majors.
The 31-year-old is currently a left-handed relief pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
At St. Charles East, Reynolds was a member of the 2001 summer state championship team and helped lead the Saints to a Class AA state quarterfinal berth during his junior year in 2002.
Along with fellow southpaws Tod Moore (14-1), Nick Prater (10-3) and Eric Jones, Reynolds posted a 4-3 mark and a 3.12 ERA while also hitting .407 with 22 RBI during his junior campaign that saw the Saints finish 32-8.
"I remember the first summer we were introduced," said Reynolds, who played first base when not pitching. "We all got along and formed a special bond.
"Looking back, Coach (Len) Asquini was one of my favorite coaches," Reynolds added. "He was always prepared and he understood how a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old brain works. I probably didn't appreciate him as much as I do now."
"It is a big honor," Reynolds said of his induction. "You remember the buddies you had and all the fun we had on the baseball field. At the time, I really had no clue I'd be playing professional baseball."
After attending Austin Peay State, Reynolds was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 20th round of the 2007 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut in August of 2010, pitching two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reynolds, who joined the Diamondbacks in 2013, has compiled a record of 5-5 and 3.66 ERA in 6 Major League seasons.
George Wendel (Class of 1986)
Wendel was a 4-year varsity soccer player and 2-time team MVP for the Saints.
During his junior year, Wendel set a single-season scoring record with 36 goals as the Saints finished third in the state with a 24-3 mark.
As a senior, Wendel broke his own record when he scored 38 goals for coach Tim Dailey's squad.
"It's nice to know I'm still remembered," Wendel said of his induction. "Looking back, some of my best memories are the friendships created with teammates during my junior and senior years."
St. Charles soccer teams posted an impressive 4-year record of 87-11-6 during Wendel's career.
He was voted a 2-time all-conference, 2-time all-sectional, and 2-time all-state player during his prep career.
After his senior season, Wendel was chosen to the National High School all-American Soccer Team.
"I scored 13 goals as a sophomore and then something clicked my junior year," said Wendel. "What made that season even better was the fact that we got to play two of the three state tournament games at home."
As a senior, Wendel led the Saints to a 22-4 mark and state quarterfinal appearance.
"My biggest memory was how my high school career ended," Wendel said of the Saints' 2-0 loss to Quincy-Notre Dame.
"It had rained for three straight days and the field at Hinsdale South was a mess. We were up to our ankles in mud. I still have several photos from that game."
Craig Brueske can be reached at email@example.com.