Meet Geneva's 2020 Hall of Fame class
An athletic director who helped oversee a highly successful run by several boys and girls varsity teams; a superb 2-way football player from the 1975 squad that advanced to the school's first state championship game; and one of the greatest girls volleyball and basketball players in school history comprise the list of inductees joining the Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.
Jim Kafer, Tim Sandman, and Lauren Wicinski will be honored during Saturday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony during halftime of the Vikings' 6 p.m. boys basketball game.
Meet the inductees:
Jim Kafer (Athletic Director, 1999-2016)
It seems appropriate enough that Kafer be inducted -- after all, he is the founder of Geneva's Athletic Hall of Fame.
"Some people joked that I started the club so I could be in it," said Kafer, who served as the Vikings' athletic director for 17 years (1999-2016). "It is a nice honor. Geneva High School was and still is a very special place."
Prior to his taking over as athletic director, Geneva hadn't won a state title in any sport in 124 years.
During Kafer's tenure, the Vikings captured 5 state championships, recorded 3 state runner-up finishes, and made 12 state quarterfinal appearances, including 8 semifinal appearances.
In addition, Geneva teams captured 106 conference titles in 20 sports, 66 regional crowns in 12 sports, and 34 sectional championships in 12 sports over his 17-year span.
Along with the great team accomplishments, Kafer is equally proud of helping work with people through various problems. "A tangible thing I'm really pleased with is the fact that we had success across the full spectrum of sports -- boys and girls."
Kafer also oversaw the construction of a new gymnasium, indoor track, weight room, gymnastics facility, wrestling room, a varsity softball field, and several upgrades to Burgess Field, including field turf.
"It's not something I did alone," said Kafer, who praised the school district and community for its support. "During the early 2000s, we moved up a level in competition. To play with the big guys, you have to have the proper resources."
Kafer, who enjoys traveling with his wife, Joyce, continues to serve as a Geneva assistant football coach.
Tim Sandman (Class of 1976)
Sandman was one of the most important players on a Vikings team that coach Jerry Auchstetter guided to the Class 3A football state championship game against Metamora in November of 1975.
Playing nearly every down at fullback on offense and nose guard on defense, Sandman led the team in scoring during a memorable senior season that began with a narrow loss to St. Charles before ending with a trip to Normal (Illinois State).
"Coach Auchstetter brought so many different groups of kids together and got them to pull one way," said Sandman.
In the Vikings' 12-0 semifinal victory over Geneseo, Sandman carried the ball 36 times for 145 yards while adding 11 tackles on defense.
While being selected as the team's MVP, he was named to the Daily News All-State Team and earned all-Chicago area honor by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.
"It's a great honor but I'm disappointed the whole team didn't get recognized," said Sandman.
Sandman enjoyed his time in Geneva.
"I was in the right place at the right time," he said. "We might not have known it at the time, but Geneva offered great opportunities to students.
"I remember the first game we played on Burgess Field. It was an unbelievable experience -- a real event."
Sandman, who spent a year playing football at the Air Force Academy, transferred to Cornell College (Iowa), where he was a multisport star and a cum laude graduate in 1981.
That summer, he married Sarah Johnson of Geneva and took a job teaching and coaching in Gillette, Wyoming. He spent 31 years there before retiring in 2012. The couple now live in Dubuque, Iowa.
Lauren Wicinski (Class of 2010)
Wicinski did a little bit of everything as a 2-sport standout at Geneva.
On the basketball court, she earned all-conference honors her last 3 seasons, and was a third-team all-state selection as a senior. During her junior campaign, the center/forward averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds while helping lead the Vikings to a 4th-place Class 4A state finish and 32-2 record.
During her 3 varsity basketball seasons, Geneva compiled a record of 64-10.
She also excelled on the volleyball court, earning all-conference and all-area accolades her last 3 years, capped by her conference MVP, all-state and second-team All-American honors as a senior.
During her 3 varsity volleyball seasons, Geneva amassed a 92-13 mark.
"I always knew I wanted to play both volleyball and basketball," said Wicinski, who grew 4-5 inches her freshman year. "I was super proud of that, and I'm a huge advocate for double-sport athletes."
Wicinski comes from an athletic background -- her dad, Rob, played football at NIU and is Geneva's head football coach, while her mom, Gina, played volleyball at NIU and coached club volleyball.
"I never got any favors from my coaches," joked Wicinski. "My parents are amazing. They were our family's biggest supporters."
Wicinski, who broke the school's season kills record (382) as a junior, cherishes her high school memories. She left Geneva as the then-all-time kills leader with 1,143.
"I wouldn't be in this position without my teammates," she said. "I'm still in contact with most of them. I'm very grateful for my high school days."
Wicinski earned first-team All-America honors as a sophomore at NIU before transferring to Michigan State, where she was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection and first-team All-America pick her final 2 seasons.
After graduating from Michigan State, she played one season of professional volleyball in Puerto Rico. She currently is a 7th-grade teacher in Conroe, Texas, where she coaches volleyball and basketball.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org