Hall of Fame induction is a first for Naperville Central
BY BLAKE BAUMGARTNER For Sun-Times Media February 5, 2013 5:40PM
Running back Ryan Clifford (22) picks his way through the Schaumburg defense during Naperville Central's victory in the Class 6A title game in 1999. | Sun-Times File
Hall of Famers
On Friday prior to the varsity basketball game, the inaugural class of two coaches and nine athletes will be inducted into the Naperville Central Athletic Hall of Fame. Following are the inductees, listed alphabetically:
Bud Berger — track and cross country coach, 1951-1985
Steve Bogdalek — football and track, Class of 1982
Ryan Clifford — football and baseball, Class of 2000
Roger Dornburg — football and basketball, Class of 1950
Elizabeth Lumpkin — tennis, Class of 2004
Kelly McNichols — swimming, Class of 2006
Anthony Parker — basketball, Class of 1993
Candace Parker — basketball, Class of 2004
Dick Smith — football, basketball and baseball coach, 1950-1984
Bob Waropay — football and baseball, Class of 1975
John Zedrow — track and football, Class of 1941
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:24AM
Well-versed in the history of Naperville Central athletics as a fan, student and coach, Bill Seiple seemed to be an appropriate voice as the school prepared to start up its Athletic Hall of Fame.
When looking at the list of 11 men and women that Naperville Central will induct as the inaugural class, Seiple said that initial class could have included at least 50. The Hall of Fame induction will be held prior to Friday’s basketball game against Glenbard North.
Referring to the highly decorated list of athletes, Seiple, the varsity baseball coach from 1982-2011, said, “How do you argue against four straight individual state tennis championships when nobody else in the history of the state has ever done it on the girls’ level? How do you argue with arguably the greatest women’s college basketball player ever to play? To me, the extent of some of these people we have on there, I mean, they’re no-brainers.”
Elizabeth Lumpkin, who claimed four consecutive girls’ singles tennis titles from 2001-04 before attending UCLA, and Candace Parker, who led the girls’ basketball program to Class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004 before moving to an All-American career at Tennessee, headline the list.
“It was just, obviously, a tremendous honor,” said Elizabeth Lumpkin Robinson. “Naperville Central has a long, outstanding tradition of excellence as a school, as an education system, as well as their athletics.
“When I started high school tennis, it was never a goal of mine to try to win state or to win state four times. It was never in my mind. It was always about having the opportunity to be on the team environment, represent my school and then stay one match at a time. I was just really blessed that things would seem to fall in place each year.
“It was also kind of a magical place for me at the state tournament because I really didn’t feel that much pressure. I have no idea why, but it just seemed like I was just doing my best and tried to win if I could and if it didn’t work out, I still knew I had the support of my family and my school and knew I would put forth my best effort. I felt like, regardless of how the outcome went, I still had a great team that I was a part of.”
For one of this year’s inductees, success on the playing field could have very well taken place somewhere else.
Ryan Clifford set the prep football world ablaze in 1999. Clifford gave up an opportunity to play at Waubonsie Valley in order to to play in the Redhawks’ offense that former football coach Joe Bunge used to build a powerhouse program in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.
Running for 51 touchdowns, establishing a single-season state record, while also scoring a single-season state record 314 points, Clifford was the driving force in the Redhawks winning the 1999 Class 6A state title, the only football state title in program history.
“It’s just that we’ve had some good times at Naperville Central and back when I was playing, there was just something about that offense,” Clifford said. “The I-formation, the run-it-at-you (mentality). I followed Jim Tumilty in his career and that (1995) team (that finished second in Class 6A) and I wanted to be part of that offense. So it’s one of those things where I was fortunate enough to be on some pretty good teams and help the team win a state championship.”
Bob Waropay, the man whose records Clifford broke in 1999, grew up in Naperville looking up to some of the people who had come before him, including Seiple.
Waropay was named All-State as a running back in 1975 and set the program standard for single-game, single-season and career rushing yards upon graduation.
“Bill’s group, his class and the athletes around there — I was in seventh, eighth grade — a lot of those kids were my idols. So getting a call from Seips (about the induction) was a pretty cool treat,” Waropay said.
As the two coaches to go in as part of the first-ever class, Bud Berger and Dick Smith did their parts in establishing their legacies at the school.
Taking the reins of the school’s track program in 1957, Berger eventually led the program to 13 straight conference titles while also starting up the school’s cross-country program in 1958.
“With the track, we really had a great response. ... I had 80, 90 kids out for track and it was fun for me because we had a record going there from the conference,” Berger said. “When it got up there, it was eight, nine, 10 years in a row and the team members knew that and my pep talk was always ‘somebody on the team, only one of you has to do something you haven’t done all year.’
“Somebody used to come through with an effort that will give us an open to win this conference title again. It always happened. The kids would just respond fantastically with an effort and get points that we didn’t see ahead of time and we came through.”
Meanwhile, Smith is best known around Naperville Central athletic circles for building the baseball program from the ground up, taking it to its first-ever state trip in 1969 while also laying the foundation for Seiple to take it over and win a pair of state titles in 2006 and 2010.
“I was so fortunate to get into the high school and to take over that position (as a physical education teacher) when it opened up. But my years at Naperville High School, I wouldn’t trade them for anything else just because (it’s) just a tremendous community,” Smith said. “The major thing was student involvement in activities and we had 65, 70 percent of our kids involved in activities at the high school. That makes a big difference in that community.”
Naperville North has been inducting athletes annually into its Athletic Hall of Fame since establishing it in 2006.
But thanks to the efforts of former athletic director Marty Bee and current AD Andy Lutzenkirchen, Naperville Central’s hall of fame has come to fruition, and Seiple is anxious to see where this venture will eventually lead.
“How is this going to be? This is the first time,” he said. “I think we’re all kind of nervous about playing it out. But at the same time, I think it’s got a chance to be very, very wonderful.”