Naperville North will honor its past and present on Friday night.
The school's Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will begin around 6:45 p.m. in the main gym after the sophomore boys basketball game against Wheaton Warrenville South. Before the ceremony, the school will also recognize Huskies baseball coach Carl Hunckler for his upcoming entrance (Jan. 30-31) into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.
The seven-person North class of 2009 includes: Tim Carlson, a two-time IHSA state swimming champion; Aileen Guiney, an all-state soccer player; Rachel Karos, an all-DuPage Valley Conference athlete in volleyball, basketball and softball; Dan Pettigrew, another all-state soccer athlete who later played at Princeton; Bart Smith, a two-time IHSA state champion in the 300-meter hurdles; coach Stan Gruszka, a state Hall of Fame coach in both football and wrestling; and the late Gene Drendel, the widely-respected long-time Naperville educator.
Previous inductees include Jerry Hairston Jr., now of the Cincinnati Reds, and NFL veterans Chris Brown, Glenn Earl and Justin McCareins.
Gruszka in particular has a lasting legacy with the North football program. Its offensive linemen are still graded by the metrics the assistant introduced in the mid-1980s. As we wrote in this feature last October: The Huskies count knockdowns - for every two it's a dog bone helmet sticker. They track "TDBs" - touchdown-enabling blocks that clear the way for someone to run into the end zone. That warrants another bone. And whoever registers the hardest hit is named "Captain Crunch" and earns a Ziploc bag full of the cereal.
If anyone else has good stories about the class of 2009, post a comment and let us know.