Hall of Champions

hall_of_champions

“Champions are not the ones who always win races – champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And even harder the next time. ‘Champion’ is a state of mind. They are devoted. They compete to best themselves as much if not more than they compete to best others. Champions are not just athletes.” – Simon Sinek, Author

JCA’s Hall of Champions pays tribute to the boys and girls athletes, coaches and contributors from the three schools that make up JCA: De La Salle (1920-1933), Joliet Catholic High School (1933-1989) and St. Francis Academy (1869-1989). JCA was established July 1, 1990. Athletes must be graduates and meet six criteria from a list of 10 categories, all of which are located on the school’s website. Separate criteria also have been created for coaches and contributors.

Nominations can be submitted via mail or email to Alumni Relations Director Sue Bebar. Please attach a biography with submission.  Nominees will come from the input of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of JCA as well as the Hall of Champions Selection Committee. The JCA Hall of Champions Selection Committee consists of Dan Sharp, Athletic Director, as chairman and Sue Bebar, Director of Alumni Relations as co-chair. Members of the committee are Tina Kinsella, JCA’s girls athletic coordinator; Ryan Quigley, JCA’s Director of Admissions and Communications; faculty representatives Jim Barello and Kathy Major; and media members Dick Goss (Joliet Herald-News) and Bill Scheibe (Chicago Tribune). Debbie Dispenza, JCA’s athletic administrative assistant, will keep a record of the minutes.

Joliet Catholic Academy has announced its fourth Hall of Champions class, which continues to speak to the depth of tradition and talent on and off the playing fields that the school has produced over the years.

The previous classes made up of a “Who’s Who” of athletics in the Joliet area with Gordie Gillespie, Bill Gullickson, Allie Quigley, Jim Stefanich, Tom Thayer, Mike Alstott, Terry Gannon, Mark Grant, Tippy Madarik, Pat Mudron, Pat Sullivan, Liz Tortorello-Nelson, Jane Condon, Mark Parker and Jack Perconte among them.

 
This year’s nominees will be honored at half-time of JCA’s home football game on Friday, September 8 vs. St. Patrick’s at Joliet Memorial Stadium. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. The Induction Ceremony and Dinner will take place at the JCA Student Activity Center on Saturday, September 9; 5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:30 p.m. Dinner, and Induction Ceremony to follow.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call JCA Director of Special Events Christine Voss at 815.773.0784 or at cvoss@jca-online.org.

Class of 2017

Patricia Carbery ’82: A four-year varsity starter in basketball, softball and tennis, Carbery was all-conference three years in basketball, four in softball and three in first doubles in tennis. She scored more than 1,000 points during her SFA career and went on to earn eight varsity letters at Yale College in basketball and softball. During the 1984-1985 season, she set the Yale record for assists in a season and was a two-time member of the All-Ivy League team in softball.

She earned an M.A. School Administration from Northwestern, while also receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to study education in Eastern Europe. She coached the Beaver Country Day School girls basketball team to the 1990 New England state championship and currently serves as principal at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, California.

Emily Marino ’97: During her prep career, Marino excelled in softball, volleyball and basketball. The recipient of 10 varsity letters at JCA, Marino was inducted into the East Suburban Catholic Conference Hall of Fame in 2008. She played softball at Florida from 1998 to 2001 and established herself as one of the top players in program history. A four-year starter who played catcher and first base, Marino is ranked first in program history in stolen-base percentage (.944), second in intentional walks (9), third in walks (138) and games started (267), fourth in throwing out base stealers (34), fifth in putouts (1,169) and games played (269), seventh in RBIs (150) and eighth in doubles (41).

After graduating from Florida with a bachelor’s degree in recreational science, Marino spent one summer playing professional softball in Italy. She served as women’s athletic coordinator and head softball coach at Joliet Junior College from 2005 to 2015, leading the Lady Wolves to 166 wins. She earned a master’s degree in sport management from Northwestern and currently serves as the director of intercollegiate and intramural athletics at Malcolm X College.

Larry McKeon ‘68: Known more now for his success as the former head football coach at Naperville North, McKeon still holds the Hilltoppers’ career receiving yardage (1,206) and receiving touchdown (19) records. He played three years on the varsity (1965-67) as a receiver/defensive back and the Hillmen only lost one game in that time. McKeon earned eight varsity letters – three in baseball, three in football and two in basketball – before receiving a football scholarship to Illinois, where he completed his degree in 1972. He was called one of the greatest three-sport athletes in the history of the school by the late Gordie Gillespie.

McKeon spent four years as an assistant on Gillespie’s Joliet Catholic staff, helping lead the Hilltoppers to three state championships (’75, ’76, ’77) before embarking on a five-season stint as the head football coach at Plainfield. In 27 seasons at Naperville North (1983-2010), McKeon’s Huskies went 231-72 with 12 10-win seasons and 23 playoff appearances, including state championships in 1992 and 2007. In all that time, Naperville North finished below .500 once, his first year in 1983. Overall, McKeon’s 261-89 lifetime record is tied for 16th in victories in Illinois prep history.

Dan Sharp ’74: On December 5, 2016, Dan Sharp announced his retirement as the head football coach at JCA following 20 seasons, 199 victories and six state championships. Sharp, who returned to the school as the football coach in 1997 after a four-year run as head coach at Minooka (where he also led the Indians to unprecedented success), stepped down as head football coach but remains the JCA athletic director. He capped a 39-year coaching career, which included stints as an assistant at Joliet Catholic and the University of St. Francis under fellow Hall of Champions honoree Gordie Gillespie. He retires with a 223-69 overall mark as a head coach and the six state titles.

The Hilltoppers’ second all-time leader in victories behind only Gillespie (222 career victories), he steps aside with a 199-51 record at JCA during his 20-year tenure. Sharp also leaves as the school’s leader in state championships with six (’99, ’00, ’01, ’03, ’04, ’07). He sent 47 players on to the Division-I level while averaging nearly 10 wins per season.

Throughout those 20 years he’s also overseen an athletic department that has produced three state championships in volleyball, two state championships in baseball and numerous regional, sectional, and supersectional titles while maintaining JCA’s mission of inspiring growth through knowledge and faith.

David Sims ’80: Sims is the first Olympian in the JCA family, setting the stage for recent USA volleyball bronze medal winner Kelly Murphy from the 2016 games. He is an accomplished swimmer who graduated from Stanford and earned a spot on the USA swim team for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Sims unfortunately was unable to compete there due to the U.S. boycott of the Olympics.

While at JCHS, Sims won the 1980 IHSA state title in the 500-meter freestyle and the JCHS Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. At Stanford, he set numerous school and Pac-10 conference records. He has since gone on to success as the COO, CFO and a Founding Principal of Lodging Capital Partners, LLC, a premier owner and manager of upper-upscale and luxury hotels.

Sims also holds nine U.S. Masters Swimming records and has set 23 individual and relay records since 2010 when he began swimming competitively again. The swimming legacy continues within the Sims family as his son Burke and daughter Haley also attended Stanford on swimming scholarships, while twin daughters Gabby and Maddy are championship swimmers at Harvard and Northwestern, respectively.

Bill Sticklen ’43: A 1943 graduate of Joliet Catholic, where he played basketball, football and golf, Sticklen’s golf teams won the Chicago Catholic title three years in a row. He also was inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Basketball Hall of Fame and is believed to be the only Joliet Catholic graduate in the CCL Hall of Fame.

Sticklen had an athletic scholarship in basketball and golf to Northwestern. He was the co-captain of the basketball team and the leading scorer two years in a row, culminating in being named team MVP in 1949. The golf team won the Big Ten championship in 1949. He set the intercollegiate course record at Northwestern Golf Course with a 66 against Notre Dame.

Later in life, he captured the Herald News golf tournament title twice and the Will County “Derby” eight times. He won numerous Joliet Country Club club championships and set the course record of 63 before the course was redesigned. During his career, he had 16 holes-in-one. Sticklen also was an Army veteran and former owner of Lennon Wallpaper Company, retiring in 1981. He passed away in 2011 at age 87.

Class of 2016

Jane Condon – Class of 1975

Condon

Jane Condon ’75, St. Francis’ first superstar athlete, earned varsity letters in five different sports: volleyball, basketball, softball, track and field, and tennis. Condon led the Angels to a 27-0 record in basketball during their first two years of Interscholastic Athletics competition, which began in the 1973-1974 school year. In ’74 she averaged 18 points per game in basketball, while finishing third in the I-8 conference meet in track, and fifth in the district meet in the discus, qualifying for state.

As a senior in ’75 she led the Angel volleyball program to a turnaround from 2-10 in “74 to a 10-5 overall record. In the inaugural softball season during her senior year, Condon led the Angels to a second place conference finish, at 9-5, and tallied an incredible 59 runs batted in. ’75 was also the inaugural year for girls tennis, and Condon teamed with Gerri Kiep to post an impressive 6-1 doubles record.

Condon became the first female to receive an athletic scholarship to Lewis University. A 1984 inductee into the Lewis Athletics Hall of Fame, she earned 11 letters at Lewis in basketball, tennis, volleyball and softball. Condon graduated as Lewis’ career leader in scoring with 703 points (10.7 points per game). She helped the Flyers finish second in the state in 1978-79 and is one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of the Joliet area.

She has operated 1st Choice Temporary Service, Inc. since 1991, serving the Joliet and Will County areas specializing in warehouse, office, and industrial staffing needs.

Sharp said, “Jane was our first superstar athlete during the Title IX era and she blazed the trail for Angel athletes to follow in the inaugural years of Girls Interscholastic Athletics at St. Francis Academy. Gordie (Gillespie) used to say Jane was always the best athlete in the neighborhood, even when competing against the boys growing up. Her support of our girls athletic program continues to this day.”

Pat Mudron – Class of 1967

Mudron Wrestling

Pat Mudron ’67 is perhaps one of the most powerful athletes to ever play for the Hilltoppers on the gridiron, but he was a multi-sport star during his high school years. As a senior, Mudron won the 1967 state championship as a heavyweight in wrestling, going 27-0-1 in the process. He finished his high school varsity wrestling career an astounding 100-5-3, never losing a regular season match. Mudron was a two-time All-State honoree in football, in ’65 as a tackle, and in ’66 as a linebacker. He led the Hilltoppers to an 8-1 record his senior season, before the advent of the IHSA football playoffs. For his efforts in wrestling and football, Mudron was named the Will County Athlete of the Year in 1966-1967.

He earned a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, where he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated tackling O.J. Simpson from USC in a game played in front of 100,000 fans.

His success continues on in his professional life, both as an insurance salesman for Mudron Kane Insurance and as a Joliet City Councilman.

Sharp added, “Gordie said that “Mud” was the best lineman he ever coached. He was a tremendous nose tackle, and he remains our first and only state wrestling champion. Pat continues to give back, both to JCA and the Joliet community through his efforts on the City Council.”

Mark Parker – Class of 1976

Parker Basketball 2

Mark Parker ’76 quarterbacked Joliet Catholic’s first state championship football team in 1975 to a perfect 13-0 record, where he passed for 1,237 yards. A star on the gridiron, Parker’s athletic exploits also carried over on the diamond and the hard court, making him one of the first and greatest all-time three-sport athletes to don the Victory Light (Coach Gillespie first added the Victory Light to the football helmets for the 1975 season). Parker led the Hilltoppers to a 34-15 overall record in basketball during his final two years of high school, earning team MVP, All-Area, and All-Conference honors both years. His senior year he led the area in free throw shooting percentage. In baseball, the talented catcher was named All-Area in his junior and senior seasons. In his senior year he led the Hilltoppers to a tie for the Illini-Eight Conference title with Joliet Central.

After high school, Parker went on to star in three sports collegiately as well, first at the College of St. Francis, and then at Coe College in Iowa. He was inducted into their collegiate Hall of Fame for football, basketball, and baseball;  a feat unfathomable in today’s collegiate athletics climate. When he left Coe, he became the first athlete to ever have his number retired. In 1980, Parker had a slugging percentage of .923. In his senior year, he hit 13 home runs. On the day his number was retired, he hit a grand slam homer. His memorable senior batting average of .461 was down from his sophomore batting average of .538, which led the nation’s collegiate players much of that season. Mark’s was recognized with four All Conference awards, three NCAA Division III All-America selections and three NCAA All District selections.

Parker went on to a successful teaching, coaching, and administrative career at the high school level, currently serving as the athletic director at Dike-New Hartford High School in Dike, Iowa.

Sharp said, “Mark is the greatest three-sport athlete in Joliet Catholic’s history. He had a tremendous amount of talent, but it was his cerebral approach to whatever sport he was playing that separated him from the rest. Gordie considered him one of the greatest quarterbacks he ever coached, at the high school or collegiate level.”

Jack Perconte – Class of 1972

Perconte Bunting

Jack Perconte ’72 played seven seasons in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners, finishing up with the Chicago White Sox . His best season was .294 with 29 steals and 31 RBIs in 1984 with Seattle. A second baseman, he batted .270 for his career.

He played in college at Murray State University before being taken by the Dodgers in the 16th round of the 1976 amateur draft. He’s the author of two books on baseball and the website www.baseballcoachingtips.net.

Jack was a member of the first Hillmen baseball team to capture an Illini-8 Conference Title. In 1972 as a senior he finished second in the area in batting average (.434) and first in steals (13). He was a two-time All-Conference and All-Area nominee.

Sharp said, “Jack was an outstanding baseball player at Joliet Catholic, and set the standard as the first of our eight Major Leaguers. He continues to give back to youth baseball players today as an accomplished instructor and author.”

Pat Sullivan – Class of 1961

Pat Sullivan

Pat Sullivan’s name is synonymous with basketball in the Joliet area. After beginning his coaching career at Providence Catholic, Sullivan spent 35 years at the University of St. Francis, where he served as the head basketball coach, athletic director, and athletic chairman until his retirement in 2010. Sullivan led the Saints to over 500 victories. The valedictorian of the 1965 graduating class at Lewis University, Sullivan was mentored by legendary area coach, and fellow JCA Hall of Champions member Gordie Gillespie.

Sullivan, a 1961 JCHS graduate is a member of numerous Hall of Fames, including the Joliet Area Hall of Fame, Lewis University’s Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. 12 times throughout his career he received “Coach of the Year” recognition from various organizations. He also founded USF’s “Brown and Gold Night”, which has featured legendary speakers from the sporting world including Al McGuire, Mike Ditka, John Wooden, Ray Meyer, Dan Hampton, Paul Hornung, and Bart Starr to name a few.

JCA Athletic Director Dan Sharp said, “Pat is known as one of the greatest college basketball coaches in the country. His ability to teach the game and prepare young men for life is his strength, and he was a mentor to me and so many other great coaches in our area. Anyone who played for or worked with Pat is a better person for it.”

John Carroll – 1926-1934

A new addition to 2016 JCA Hall of Champions is the “Legends Category”, which honors one coach or athlete from the pre-World War Two era. The Hall of Champions Committee is proud to announce John Carroll as this year’s nominee. Carroll is the all-time leader in wins among boys basketball coaches with a 193-80 record, guiding the Hilltoppers to three national championships during his coaching tenure. His 1926-27 team went 24-0 and his 1933-34 team went 29-3, both winning national titles.

Carroll also coached the Hilltoppers in football during his tenure, and his undefeated (5-0) 1926 squad established what will likely remain an unbreakable record; they shut out every opponent. His 1928 Hilltopper team defeated Mount Carmel 12-0 in the inaugural game of what has become one of the most intense rivalries in the nation.  (information courtesy of Kirk Girlbride, “A Chronicle of Hilltopper Football”)

Sharp added, “Joliet Catholic prides itself on the outstanding coaches throughout our history and Carroll was the first, winning national championships in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His teams were also the first to light up the Victory Light, beginning the tradition that continues today. When competing in the national tournament, the Christian Brothers would light up the Victory Light in order to let the city of Joliet know that our Hillmen were victorious.”

Class of 2015

Click Here to view the entire Class of 2015 Induction Ceremony broadcast by Joliet TV.

Mike Alstott (’92) –

Mike Alstott (‘92) led JCA to the Class 4A state football title in 1990, transformed himself into a fullback at Purdue University, then was drafted in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played 12 years in the NFL, made six Pro Bowls, won the Super Bowl, and is now coaching high school in Florida.

“What you hear constantly about Mike is his tremendous work ethic,” Sharp said. “He set a goal to play professional football, and no one worked harder to achieve that goal. He worked harder than anyone else out there to be the best, and he’s teaching what it takes to be the very best to his players today.”

Click Here to View Alstott’s Hall of Champions Induction.

Terry Gannon (’81) –

Terry Gannon (‘81), a standout basketball player, led the Hillmen to regional titles as a junior and as a senior, earning a scholarship to the North Carolina State. He won the national championship under Jim Valvano in 1983, the same year he led the nation in 3-point shooting. He’s an announcer for ABC Sports.

“Terry’s a multitalented young man, and Valvano recruited him for his shooting ability, knowing the ACC was going to the three-point line,” Sharp recalled. “He also was a tremendous pitcher in baseball. You combine his work ethic, preparation, personality and quick wit, and it makes him a great broadcaster.”

Click Here to view Gannon’s Hall of Champions Induction.

Mark Grant (’81) –

Mark Grant (‘81) was drafted in the first round, 10th overall, by the San Francisco Giants only days after leading Joliet Catholic to the second of back-to-back state final appearances. He pitched in the major leagues for San Diego, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston and Seattle. He’s a color analyst for Padre games.

“Mark pitched one of the greatest games I ever saw,” Sharp said. “It was at Joliet West, and he struck out 20 of 21 batters. Off the field, he’s one of the funniest, most enthusiastic, happiest people. He’s like a magnet — everybody wants to be around him. He has a strong passion for baseball, people, and JCA.”

Click Here to view Grant’s Hall of Champions Induction.

Tippy Madarik (’40) –

Elmer “Tippy” Madarik (‘40) played football at the University of Detroit-Mercy before enlisting to fight in World War II. He later played in the NFL for both the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, and was noted for his versatility as a halfback, wingback or tailback in the single-wing offenses of that era.

“We have Coby Fleener playing in the NFL right now with the Colts, but Tippy was our first,” Sharp said. “His family, the Madarik name, is woven in the fabric of our school. I’ve always heard about how great of player he was, and that says something that his legacy, from 1939 and 1940, still lasts to this day.”

Click Here to view Madarik’s Hall of Champions Induction.

Liz Tortorello-Nelson (’88) –

Liz Tortorello-Nelson (‘88) was the first star of the volleyball program. She took consecutive Angel teams downstate, led Wisconsin to the Big Ten title and Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and coached at Loyola University for 11 years. She’s an athletic director at Latin and works for the Big Ten Network.

“When you look at the history and the tremendous job Christine Scheibe is doing with the program, it all started with Liz getting things going as a player,” Sharp said of Tortorello-Nelson, JCA’s first female winner of the Paddy McGowan Award. “The Tortorello name is synonymous with Angel volleyball.”

Click Here to view Tortorello-Nelson’s Hall of Champions Induction.

The JCA administration would would like to offer a special thanks to our 2015 Hall of Champions Event Sponsors:

Athletico Physical Therapy

Brown & Brown Insurance– Manner & Wagner Famililes

CarCare Collision Centers– Diana & Jim Missig

D’Arcy Motors– Terry D’Arcy

Edward Jones- Gloria & Ed Dollinger

Minarich Graphics- Bill Minarich

Providence Bank & Trust

Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol, LLC- Frank Cservenyak

Traditions Restaurant & Pub- Chris Adler & Mike Sheppard

Law Office of Vincent F. Cornelius

 

Class of 2014

Click Here to view the entire Class of 2014 Induction Ceremony broadcast by Joliet TV.

Gordie Gillespie (Coach) –

Gillespie coached football at Joliet Catholic from 1959-1985, compiling a 222-54-6 record (.804 winning percentage) and guiding the Hillmen to their first five state championships (1975-78, 1981). He also coached college baseball at Ripon, Lewis and St. Francis for 59 years, finishing with a 1,893-952-1 record.

“Gordie set the standard,” Sharp said of Gillespie, who’s in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, among others. “Hundreds of his players are in education as teachers, as coaches — his coaching tree is phenomenal. Every person being honored here has been touched somehow by Gordie. It’s amazing.”

Bill Gullickson (’77) –

Gullickson, a 1977 graduate, pitched the Hilltoppers to their first Final Four appearance as a senior and was drafted second overall by Montreal. He also pitched in the major leagues for Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston and the New York Yankees, ending a 14-year career with a 162-136 record and a 3.93 ERA.

“Bill was taken second behind only Harold Baines,” Sharp said of the longtime White Sox outfielder. “That says a lot in itself. We’ve had a lot of major leaguers come out of our state championship baseball program, but Bill is probably the top one, period. He’s the one who started the run of greatness.”

Allie Quigley (’04) –

Quigley, a 2004 graduate, was great in three sports, earning All-American status as an outside hitter in volleyball and as a guard in basketball. She was an All-Area shortstop in softball. She holds the school record with 515 kills as the Angels won the 2003 state title in volleyball. And her basketball numbers?

“I don’t know if anyone will touch her scoring records,” Sharp said of Quigley, who finished with 2,387 career points and scored a single-game best 49 against St. Viator. “She comes from a great Joliet family, she had a terrific college career at DePaul, and continues to shine with the Chicago Sky of the WNBA.”

Jim Stefanich (’59) –

Stefanich, a 1959 graduate, joined the PBA Tour in 1965 and bowled a 300 game in the 1974 Midas Open, which was televised live. He won the first of seven ABC titles at the age of 22, won 14 titles in a 24-year career, and was named to the PBA Hall of Fame in 1980. He went on to golf on the Senior Tour.

“He’s an icon in Joliet,” Sharp of Stefanich, who made the cut in 20 of 24 PGA events over a seven-year period from 1992-2001. “When I was growing up, I remember watching that 300 on national TV. It put the PBA on the map. And he had a second career, a second act, in golf. Not many people can say that.”

Tom Thayer (’79) –

Thayer, a 1979 graduate, is a household name in Chicago because of his association with the Bears, winning the 1985 Super Bowl as an offensive lineman before becoming a color commentator for their games on WBBM-AM. He also played in the NFL for Miami and in the USFL with the Blitz and Arizona.

“Tom won a state championship for Gordie, played for the national championship (1981 Sugar Bowl) at Notre Dame and won a Super Bowl with the Bears,” Sharp said. “Few people can claim that. He always has been very positive in promoting JCA, through his role in the media or by attending football games.”


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