JCA announces fifth Hall of Champions-Athletics Class

Joliet Catholic Academy has announced its fifth 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, Patricia Carbery, Tom Thayer, Mike Alstott, Terry Gannon, Mark Grant, Dave Sims, Pat Mudron, Pat Sullivan, Liz Tortorello-Nelson, Jane Condon, Mark Parker and Jack Perconte among them.

JCA president/principal Dr. Jeffrey Budz had announced this as 2018 class: Coby Fleener (JCA ’07), Chris Michalak (JCHS ’89), Kelly Murphy (JCA ’08), Samantha Quigley-Smith (JCA ’06), and Jack Schimanski. This year’s legacy honoree is Andrew Matichak (JCHS ’53). JCA athletic director Mr. Dan Sharp said, “five years in to the Hall of Champions…this class with an Olympian, MLB player, NFL player, Hall of Fame Coach, and one of our greatest three-sport female athletes is incredible. It continues to speak to the rich tradition Joliet Catholic as throughout our athletic programs.”

Class of 2018

Coby Fleener ’07: Fleener was all-conference, all-area, all-state and an all-state academic honoree his senior year in football at JCA, while also earning three letters in basketball while at the Hill. He went on to earn All-American honors at Stanford, where he ranks first all-time in receiving touchdowns by a tight-end with 18. Fleener was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and has played six years in the NFL with the Colts and the New Orleans Saints. He is currently an NFL free agent. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Stanford. Sharp said, “Coby was a tremendous talent as an athlete and one of the most intellectual players I’ve ever coached. He represents JCA the way we want Hillmen to through his kindness for the less fortunate which he continues through his philanthropy today.”



Chris Michalak ’89: a three-sport star at JCHS in football, basketball, and baseball, Michalak starred at the University of Notre Dame in baseball before embarking on a 16-year professional baseball career, including parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, and Cincinnati Reds. Michalak was a member of the 1987 Joliet Catholic State Championship football squad and a member of a high school pitching rotation featuring three future major leaguers (Sean Bergmann and Mike Grace the others). Michalak still holds pitching records at Notre Dame where he went 34-13 overall with a 3.21 ERA, 12 saves, and 263 strikeouts in 372.2 innings pitched in four years. He was the first Irish pitcher to win 20 games and save 10 over the course of his college career. Michalak has spent his post-playing career as a minor-league pitching coach with the Washington Nationals, where he spent time as a major league bench coach during the 2017 season. He currently serves as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator for the Miami Marlins.

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 24: Kelly Murphy of the USA women’s indoor volleyball team poses for a portrait at the American Sports Center on May 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Kelly Murphy ’08: a three-time All-America selection at JCA, Murphy led the Angels to two state trophies in her four years and capped off her senior season in 2007 being named the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. During her collegiate career at Florida, she was a third-team All-American as a freshman, second team as a sophomore and first team each of her last two seasons. At Florida she became the first-ever four-time AVCA All-American in program history, was the 2010 SEC Player of the Year, and the Under Armour/Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year in 2008. She has played in numerous international competitions with Team USA, highlighted by winning a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She has also played professional volleyball in Japan, and recently captured the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League title with the U.S. women’s national team. Sharp said, “…without a doubt one of the greatest female athletes to ever come out of JCA. Kelly is one of our two Olympians (along with Dave Sims) and the only JCA graduate to earn an Olympic medal. We are proud of the way she has represented her country and JCA with class.”







Samantha Quigley-Smith: As a high school senior, Quigley-Smith was selected as the 2006 Chicago Sun-Times Female Athlete of the Year starring in basketball, volleyball and softball at JCA. She was a member of the 2003 JCA girls volleyball state championship team, the first in school history. Quigley-Smith had an illustrious playing career at DePaul University, where she was a two-time All-Big East selection and was named an Honorable Mention WBCA All-American in 2011 and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as a senior. She is currently entering her second season as the head coach women’s basketball coach at Lewis University, following a five-season stint at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. In her final two seasons at USF, the Fighting Saints registered a mark of 62-7 (.899) with two Top 10 finishes in the NAIA Division II Coaches Poll, including a No. 1 ranking in the final 2017 poll. Sharp said, “Sam is one of the fiercest competitors to ever come out of JCA and you can see that same determination in the preparation she puts into her successful coaching career at USF and Lewis.”



Jack Schimanski: the head baseball coach at Joliet Catholic High School from 1979-1988, during that time his team’s record was 323-101. His 1982 team won 53 games, a record that still stands. He won conference baseball championships in 1980, 81, 82 and 88. His 1980, 81 and 88 teams were IHSA state finalists. His team won the 1983 summer state baseball championship. Jack was named IHSA Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1988, 18 of his players signed professional contracts, and five made it to the major leagues. Schimanski is also in the Lewis University and Brother Rice High School Hall of Fame’s. At Lewis, he posted a 9-1 record on the mound as a senior in 1972, leading the Flyers to a 46-12 record and a sixth-place national finish. Schimanski retired as an assistant principal from Wheeler High School in 2018 after 46 years in education. In 22 overall years as a head baseball coach at Joliet Catholic and Wheeler (1999-2010), Schimanski posted a 541-237 overall record. Sharp said, “I personally learned so much from Jack. No one prepared harder or utilized practice time better. His success with the baseball program here with the number of wins and professional players laid a foundation that continues to this day.”


Andrew Matichak ’53: the honoree for this year’s Legends category, Matichak was a stand out three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball at Joliet Catholic High School, while also excelling in leadership positions as his class president. Matichak starred on the gridiron for the Hilltoppers during the ’50-’52 seasons, rushing for 1,339 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 extra points during his junior season leading the Hilltoppers to a 7-2 record. As a senior on the gridiron, Matichak gained 887 yards rushing, scored 15 touchdowns, scored 96 total points, and was named All State by the Champaign News Gazette. At one time he held school records in rushing yard and scoring, and total points scored in basketball, where he averaged a team-leading 14 points per game during his junior and senior seasons. He also hit .410 in baseball, leading the team in extra-base hits and home runs as a senior. Sharp said, “Coach Gillespie (at the time the head boys basketball coach and an assistant football coach to Phil Cantwell) always said Andy was one of the best three-sport athletes he ever coached. I had the opportunity to work for Andy in college on his iron working crew, he was as meticulous and tough as they come.”

The fifth class will be inducted during Hall of Champions Weekend September 7-8, 2018. Members will be introduced at the Annual Alumni Golf Outing on Friday, September 7, 2018 at the Joliet Country Club. They will be honored and inducted at the annual Hall of Champions Dinner on Saturday, September 8, 2018; 5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:30 p.m. Dinner, and Induction Ceremony to follow in the Student Activity Center at JCA

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.

Find us online