Meet this year's Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award winners

 
 
Updated 1/30/2020 8:04 AM

The winningest wrestler in school history, a girls basketball player who became the first to top the 1,000-point mark, a goalkeeper for a pair of state champion girls soccer teams, a 4-time swimming state champion, a pair of highly respected coaches, and a couple whose contributions are immeasurable will all be spotlighted this weekend at St. Charles East.

Honored as Jodie Harrison Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2020, they will be inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame prior to Saturday's 4:30 p.m. boys basketball game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kevin Milligan (Class of 1997)

Milligan, a 2-time all-state wrestler and 3-time state qualifier, earned back-to-back 4th-place individual state finishes at 135 and 140 pounds, respectively, in 1996 and 1997.

The 4-time all-Upstate Eight selection who helped lead the Saints to a 3rd-place dual team state finish in 1997 still holds the school's career wins mark with 152 and is tied for the most single-season victories with 46.

"St. Charles High School was a fun place to be in the '90s," said Milligan. "I bet there were at least 10-15 Division I prospects eating in the lunchroom daily and we wouldn't think anything of it. Excellence could be found on the field and in the classroom.

"It seemed like teams were competing for state titles in every sport. Winning is fun."

Nobody won more than Milligan, who finished 46-4 as a senior.

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"We had tough, tough kids in our wrestling room," said Milligan. "We all pushed each other."

After graduating from the Naval Academy, Milligan served 5 overseas deployments -- the last a 2018 tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Today, he lives in Tallahassee, Fla., where he owns a real estate company that focuses on hiring U.S. veterans.

Claire Sheehan (Class of 2005)

A 3-sport athlete, Sheehan made her mark on the basketball court where she was a 4-year varsity player and 2-time team captain.

The 5-foot-7 guard earned the Daily Herald's All-Area Honorary Captain honors in 2004 and 2005, and was named to the IBCA All-State Team in 2005.

During her senior season, Sheehan helped lead the Saints to their first regional title in 17 years, and a berth in the sectional championship before a 78-63 loss to eventual 2nd-place state finisher Bartlett.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was a long time ago but at the same time it feels like yesterday," said Sheehan, who went on enjoy a successful collegiate career at Illinois Wesleyan, where she scored 1,368 career points.

"We had great camaraderie between our coaches and teammates -- a lot of fun memories. I'll always remember that sectional game against Bartlett in our packed gym."

Today, Sheehan lives in Chicago, and is a pediatric dentist at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Merit (Elzey) Stloukal (Class of 1994)

During Stloukal's 4-year varsity career as goalkeeper, the Saints' girls soccer teams compiled a record of 91-8-9 (1991-1994).

As a sophomore, Stloukal helped lead the Saints to a 22-1 mark and state title, capped by her 4-0 shutout win over Buffalo Grove.

The next year, St. Charles went 25-3-1 and placed third in the state.

"It was unexpected because we had lost a great senior class the year before," said Stloukal. "One of my top memories was proving everyone wrong (my) junior year."

As a senior, the Saints finished 27-0, capturing their second state title in 3 years. Stloukal recorded a then-school mark 24 shutouts that still ranks third on the IHSA's single-season list.

She finished with 66 career shutouts, which ranks fifth in state history.

"As a goalkeeper, I could see the whole field," said Stloukal. "Playing the position required a lot more than just making a save."

Stloukal attended Indiana, where she was a 4-year starting goalkeeper (442 career saves, 13 shutouts) and 4-time team MVP, leading the Hoosiers to the Big Ten title and their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1996.

Today, she is the owner/coach of Conquerors Goalkeeping Academy.

Tom Williams (Class of 1982)

During his freshman year, Williams watched a strong group of upperclassmen lead St. Charles to its first boys state swimming title, ending Hinsdale Central's 12-year state championship run.

"It was something the school hadn't seen before," said Williams.

Two years later, Williams captured the 50-yard freestyle, placed 4th in the 100 fly, and was a member of the title-winning 200 medley relay as the Saints placed second to Hinsdale.

During his senior year, Williams repeated as the state's 50 free champ with a record time of 20.89 and also won the 100 fly while competing on the runner-up 200 medley relay as the Saints earned their third state team title in 4 seasons.

"We had to bring it back home my senior year," said Williams, who praised then-Saints coach Bob Teichart for his leadership. "He was a great mentor who brought both the physical and mental parts together."

Williams went on to Iowa, where he captured Big Ten titles in the 50 and 100 free and earned All-American status by taking third nationally in the 50 free.

Today, Williams lives in Venice, Calif., and owns the Burn Fitness Health Club in Santa Monica.

Jeff Leavey (Cross country/track coach)

Leavey served as the Saints' boys cross country coach from 1982-2001, guiding the squad to 2nd- and 3rd-place state finishes in 1992 and 1986, respectively.

"We had great coaches and great kids running and competing," said Leavey, who also taught history and sociology at St. Charles. "Being inducted is a great honor. Jodie Harrison was a first-class guy and very supportive of every athletic program at St. Charles."

Leavey's coaching philosophy was simple.

"I wanted the athletes to make themselves better every day in every possible way," he said. "You can only control what you're doing so push yourself to get better."

In 1986, the Saints came within an eyelash of their first cross country title, finishing just 10 points behind champion York (155).

"Twenty-seven points separated the top four teams," said Leavey, who moved to Florida in 2005 and has coached cross country, track and golf.

"I'm an adrenaline junkie," he said. "It's fun to be a part of it."

Mick Ruettiger (Wrestling coach)

During his tenure as head wrestling coach from 1982-1997, the Saints posted a .601 dual meet winning percentage (176-117-2).

In the 1990s, Ruettiger's teams shifted into a higher gear, compiling an .804 winning percentage (119-29-2), highlighted by the Saints' 3rd-place dual team state showing in 1997 (22-2-1).

"Once we started the kids club in 1985-86, the program took off a few years later," said Ruettiger.

Along the way, he coached 43 individual state qualifiers, including 21 place-winners (top 6) -- 7 state finalists -- highlighted by state champions Matthew Bartlett (98 pounds -- 1987) and Jevon Herman (171 -- 1993), and 5 state runners-up.

In 1996, the Saints came within "one match" from going to the state team tournament.

"From that point, the guys dedicated themselves not to let that happen again the following season," he said.

The 1997 squad included Kevin Milligan, Aaron Gilson, Brian Joseph, David Potter and current Saints coach Jason Potter.

"When you have good people around you, you can't help but have success," said Ruettiger, who went on to coach at Neuqua Valley for 16 years (254-112-2) before returning to St. Charles East as an assistant in 2018.

Jim/Linda Caine (Friends of Program)

Linda Caine and her late husband, Jim, have played instrumental roles for the Saints' athletic program long after their 4 children, Kimberly, Melissa, Carrie, and Jimmy, graduated from St. Charles.

"Our entire family was there (at school) the day Jodie Harrison was killed (in an automobile accident while returning from a Saints' softball game)," said Linda, who was a District 303 employee for 26 ½ years.

"After that, my husband and others had a plan to keep working on this (Hall of Fame). Jim served as the Booster Club treasurer and later became president."

Upon Jim's death in 2002 -- Linda, was asked to join the HOF selection committee.

"I'm trying to figure out how I deserve this. I'm honored."

Today, Linda works part-time for the St. Charles Park District when she isn't attending Saints athletic events.

"I do love the Saints," she said.

You can reach Craig Brueske at csb4k@hotmail.com

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