Note to self: Hold the microphone in your left hand, turn the pages with your right.
When was named to the, we knew there'd be one problem: Who would introduce him?
The funniest and most-fun idea was to let Kurt introduce himself. ("Please welcome our final Viking Sports Hall of Fame inductee this evening, from the Class of 1975, ... ME!!!") But since that would have been a little over the top, I said I'd do it.
I'm not enamored of public speaking. It's something you do when you have to, and I've had to a fair number of times, mostly when I was editor-publisher of The Beacon News and later executive editor of the Sun-Times West Region. As some folks will recall, in my younger days, I actually did standup comedy (badly) at The Improv in New York for about four years, so I should know how to hold a microphone.
It was the page turning that got me.
In case you missed it, I was the guy in the tuxedo reading the script announcing all three inductees: Katy Lindenmuth Green, Derek Swanson and Kurt. When I got to the end of the first page, I realized my mistake—microphone in the right hand.
"Tonight’s first inductee was a two-sport star in high school who achieved All-Conference status in volleyball in ... "
I tried flipping with my left, missed, switched hands, made a swipe with my right, missed, then got it on the third try. The awful silence seemed like it went on forever, and when I glanced up, people in the audience were actually licking their fingers and miming the page turning.
" ... the fall, but she truly excelled in the spring sport of soccer ..."
So, if you missed the halftime ceremony Saturday night, you not only missed an excellent faux pas by yours truly, but an extremely nice testimony to three worthy inductees.
But you're also in luck—you can read that testimony far better than I did. Thanks to the miracle of the copy/paste function (good ol' Command-C, Command-V on your scorecard), the Hall of Fame Committee and Geneva Patch, here is the script from Saturday night's Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction.
Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame
12th Induction: Jan. 28, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we devote halftime to presenting our 12th annual group of inductees into the Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Geneva High Athletic Director Jim Kafer chairs a committee of professionals long involved in Geneva athletics, who have unanimously decided on the three selections to be announced this evening. Mr. Kafer will present personal Hall of Fame plaques to the inductees; similar plaques, with their portraits, will be permanently enshrined on the Hall of Fame wall in this gymnasium’s entry foyer, just to our east.
Let us now present our three inductees to you, in alphabetical order:
Tonight’s first inductee was a two-sport star in high school who achieved All-Conference status in volleyball in the fall ... but she truly excelled in the spring sport of soccer.
She helped lead the Vikings to a four-season record of 81 wins, 11 losses and 7 ties during 1999 through 2002. She made All-Conference all four years, and All-State status for both her junior and senior seasons.
In her senior season of 2002, our inductee was the All-Western Sun Conference MVP, and she was selected both as the Daily Herald’s Player of the Year and Sun Newspapers’ Spring Athlete of the Year—all while earning membership in the National Honor Society.
Moving on to the University of Wisconsin on a soccer scholarship, she was honored as the Badgers’ Freshman Player of the Year in 2002. She later became a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection. She was twice named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and was selected to the Academic All-Big Ten Team as well.
Our inductee led Wisconsin in both assists and total points as a sophomore in 2003, and made three NCAA Tournament appearances with the Badgers, in ’02, ’04 and ’05—that latter after leading Wisconsin to the Big soccer title. By the time she finished her collegiate career in fall 2005, she was the Badgers’ all-time leader in games played, at 92, and in games started, with 90.
Our inductee received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communication from UW in 2006, and a master’s degree in education from Chicago’s DePaul University in 2009. She currently served as a Learning Behavior Specialist at Wilmette Junior High School on the North Shore. Please welcome tonight’s first Viking Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, from the Class of 2002, Katy Lindenmuth Green!
Our next inductee this evening was the starting tailback in the final two consecutive seasons of Viking Head Football Coach Jerry Auchstetter’s career on the Viking sideline, in 1984 and ’85 ... and he is clearly one of the best running backs Auchstetter ever coached.
During our inductee’s junior-year football season of ’84, this 175-pound rusher amassed 1,258 yards in just nine games—as Geneva went 7-2 but was excluded from the postseason. Highlighting that fall was a 252-yard game against Waubonsie Valley. But in his senior season of ’85, he piled up another 1,360 yards in the regular season and an even 1,700 yards in 11 games overall, before the Vikings lost to Lisle in the Class 3A quarterfinals in the rain.
In his two-year career as a starter, he finished with what were at the time Viking records in career rushing yards with 2,958; in single-season rushing touchdowns with 24; in single-season points with 144; and in most consecutive games of 100 yards or more with 12. His senior season, he was chosen the Little Seven Conference Most Valuable Player, the Beacon-News Player of the Year, and was named to the Champaign News-Gazette’s All State First Team.
Our inductee was a three-sport athlete, who played on Geneva’s Regional Championship basketball team of 1985-86. In his senior track season of ’86, he took the Little Seven Conference titles in both the long jump and triple jump, and with his teammates, set school records in both the 400-meter relay and the 800-meter relay. He graduated ninth in his class academically, as both an Illinois State Scholar and member of the National Honor Society.
He went on to Western Illinois University on a full athletic scholarship, in Macomb for the Leathernecks football he set a school record for single-game receptions with 14—all out of the backfield! Western’s coaches named him the team’s Most Valuable Freshman in 1987, Most Valuable Sophomore in ’88 and Most Valuable Junior in ’89. In 1988 he was named to the NCAA Academic All-America Team.
Today, he is the father of two children in Geneva schools, the oldest here at Geneva High—and he owns an established home-remodeling business in Geneva.
He has served as an assistant Geneva High football coach; he coaches youth football with the Tri-City Chargers, and track as an assistant coach at Geneva Middle School South. And one week from tonight, on Feb. 4, he’ll be Rush in the Dancing With the Geneva Stars fundraiser ... please welcome our second inductee this evening, Mr. Derek Swanson!
And our final inductee tonight had a Geneva High athletic career consisting of exactly two jayvee baseball games with six plate appearances during his senior spring of 1975. (For the record, 0-for-5 with a walk.) But by that point he had already begun a career in public-address announcing for the Vikings—which, after returning from college, he would sustain without a break for more than three decades—and at which he continues on a part-time basis today, more than 37 years later.
His first work behind the Viking microphone was during fall 1974, for Monday-night jayvee football games in the tiny pressbox at old Burgess Field just south of this building. That November, our inductee, at age 17, pestered Activities Director and then-PA announcer Chic Williams just enough get to introduce just the varsity basketball starting lineups before turning the mike back over to Williams. But in January of ’75, Williams let him work his first entire basketball game—a packed house of twelve hundred in old Mack Olson Gym and a loss to Batavia—and for the rest of that season as well.
After graduating that June, our inductee spent the next four falls and winters at the University of Illinois, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism in spring 1979 before returning to Geneva and an editorial post at The Geneva Republican, where he would edit the sports section for six years. Head basketball coach Bob Schick asked him to resume handling basketball PA duties for the 1979-80 season, then in summer 1980 new Athletic Director Jerry Auchstetter asked him to take on varsity football duties as well that fall. For the next 30 years, our inductee handled both, as well as often singing the national anthem before gametime.
Through those years he missed only roughly a dozen contests—working an estimated 500 football and basketball games, plus several multi-school track meets in the springs as well. For 13 Junes beginning in 1993, he also shared PA duties with future Mayor Kevin Burns, as Geneva High hosted the annual IHSA Class Double-A State Baseball Tournament at Elfstrom Stadium.
Since 1991 his fulltime employment has been at Mooseheart as Director of Communications & Public Affairs for Moose International. Please welcome our final Viking Sports Hall of Fame inductee this evening, from the Class of 1975, Mr. Kurt Wehrmeister!
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There's more after this, but that's enough for now.
If you have any suggestions for future Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame candidates, please enter them here in the comments field.