In a compelling example of why we should listen to our parents, Neal Ormond was encouraged by his father to take up speech and debate in addition to athletics.
The advice has paid off in a broadcasting career that since 1964 has seen Ormond call more than 1,500 West Aurora basketball games, over 450 football contests and more than 50 other miscellaneous events, sports and otherwise. He's a mainstay at WBIG-1280 AM in Aurora.
On Saturday, Ormond will be honored for his 50 years of broadcasting first at a public reception at the high school, and then in a midcourt ceremony before tipoff of the annual West Aurora-East Aurora boys basketball game, appropriately enough.
A man of many hats, most of which could be emblazoned with the block "W," Ormond also is in his 52nd year as an assistant coach currently teaching girls tennis, softball and girls basketball. Since his 1995 retirement as vice president of human resources for distribution giant W.W. Grainger he's been active with the West Aurora School District 129, presently its president.
"It keeps me young in many ways, especially with the coaching," said Ormond, a 1958 West Aurora graduate. "You hang around with those people and not only does it keep the mind going gut it gives you an exciting life. I've been so blessed in so many ways to have been able to do these things."
Truly a book and not part of a column could be dedicated to Ormond, who was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1984 for his work in media and also did contests for Marmion, East Aurora and Roncalli, the boys high school that merged with a girls school to form Aurora Central Catholic.
Consider that during his three years as sports director at Yale University's WYBC he was recruited by ABC to call Ivy League football games with Curt Gowdy.
And while at Stanford to gain his master's in business administration, he worked ABC games with Lindsey Nelson.
Or that when Keith Jackson wanted to move to news from sports at Seattle's KING, Ormond was offered the sports job. He declined. A year later, Ormond said he received a letter from Jackson asking him to reconsider.
Instead he joined his mentor, the late Bob Locke, at WMRO in Aurora, and also met his wife, Mary.
"I married the head librarian in Aurora," Ormond said. "We were definitely locked into living here."
He spans eras from teammate Bill Small to Jontrell Walker with John Bryant, Kenny Battle and Dameon Mason in between. At Ormond's first West Aurora assignment, a 1964 football game at St. Charles, brother Paul was in uniform and two other brothers, Marty and Rich, were his assistants. Now Neal's broadcasts can be heard around the world on the Internet.
And there's no end in sight, he said: " ... As long as I'm having fun and as long as the radio station and school district allow me to, and as long as my health holds out."
It's said champions are made in the off season. No one, however, sees that part.
St. Charles North football coach and strength and conditioning coordinator Rob Pomazak is providing a chance to change that. The first "Pennies 4 Pounds Lift-A-Thon," starting at 9 a.m. Feb. 1, will have up to 80 boys football, baseball, track, lacrosse and rugby players lifting weights for pledges toward upgrading existing weight equipment and purchasing new gear. The public is invited.
"I'd like to get people into the room to see where the money's going to, and also to see what the athletes are doing," Pomazak said.
They'll be aiming for personal-best lifts in bench press, squat and power clean. For example, football center Kevin Bagrowski is looking to improve upon his 315-pound bench; linebacker and baseball third baseman Jordan Bergren seeks to better his 260-pound clean.
Players were asked to round up donors and sponsors for either a "per-pound pledge" or flat donation. People can contact Pomazak at email@example.com if they'd like to help the cause.
Stressing "this isn't a football event," Pomazak said getting female athletes involved in the future is a distinct goal. After all, the intended weight-room improvements -- he's targeting power racks where a variety of exercises can be performed -- will be available for all students.
"We're trying to blur the lines between males and females," Pomazak said. "Strength training is strength training."
No Coyote problem here
On Monday, Aurora Christian safety Noah Roberts committed to a scholarship to play football for the University of South Dakota. The Coyotes play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, a Football Championship Subdivision team.
Younger brother of former Eagles record-setting quarterback Jordan Roberts and receiver Grayson with kid sister Natalie a volleyball-playing eighth-grader at Aurora Christian, Noah chose South Dakota from among schools including Colgate, North Dakota, Western Illinois and St. Cloud State, plus some preferred walk-on requests.
"I already love my team," said Noah, whose teammate, Brandon Walgren, committed to Northern State in South Dakota on Thursday.
Last season Roberts made 49 tackles with 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He returned 3 punts for touchdown. Due to some lopsided early wins, a separated shoulder Week 6 and slightly torn ankle ligaments in the first round of the playoffs at IC Catholic, the senior could never truly display his talent last fall.
He did in March when South Dakota assistant coach Marquice Williams arrived to put him through a workout.
"Coach Williams called his defensive coordinator (Jason Petrino) and asked him to offer me," Roberts recalled.
The Coyote folks project the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder as a safety or outside linebacker.
"I can't wait for it, it's going to be awesome," Roberts said.
Calling all Chiefs
Nominations of individuals or groups for the 2014 class of inductees into the Waubonsee Community College Athletic Hall of Fame are due by Feb. 1. Selections will be announced the week of April 7, and inducted at Waubonsee's Athletic Banquet on May 8.
Nomination forms are available online at waubonsee.edu/athletics or through the college's athletic office at the Sugar Grove campus.
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