Wonderful tribute to Lake County’s finest
By Bryan Bonato Special to The News-Sun November 1, 2012 8:34PM
Talking (from left) are Hall of Fame inductee Gary Bereiter of Zion, Leroy Cliff of Zion and Fred Loffredo of Ingleside at the Keith Ryan Scholarship Fund and Sports Banquet. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
LAKE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2012
Doc (Edward) May
KEITH RYAN SCHOLARSHIP AWARD WINNERS FROM CLC
Updated: January 1, 2013 1:48AM
The clocks in your houses don’t get turned back an hour until Saturday night/Sunday morning.
But Thursday evening’s 24th Keith Ryan Scholarship Fund and Sports Banquet was very much a turn-back-the-clock type of night for fans of high school sports in Lake County.
The evening included the induction of a dozen members into the Lake County High Schools Hall of Fame, and the huge crowd of around 250 that filled a banquet room at Midlane Country Club in Waukegan included high school sports legends from several generations past-to-present.
One of the Hall of Fame inductees Thursday was Gary Bereiter, a coaching legend at Zion-Benton High School who now helps coach baseball at the College of Lake County.
“Without a doubt, it’s an amazing and humbling experience,” he said of his selection. “So many people I admired as a coach were inducted before me. And now to join them is a thrill.
“To be put in with this class is extra special ... Brian Colbert from Zion — I’ve known him since the day he was born. We grew up together and always felt like he was a younger brother to me.
“And of course, Randy Kuceyeski from Libertyville and Eric Eckenstahler, whom I coached against.
“I think it’s real special to be inducted with the people you coached with, played against or coached against.”
Kuceyeski, who is now retired from coaching football, has been battling a form of mouth cancer and looks like he’s beaten it.
“I’m feeling great. I’m completely retired. I’ve been enjoying myself following Northwestern football and watching my son coach (he’s a grad assistant at NU).”
Eckenstahler was a great pitcher at Antioch High and Illinois State, and played a couple of years in the minor leagues. He’s now a father of two and owns an insurance agency in Lake Forest.
Besides the Hall of Famers, three scholarships were awarded to CLC students. The recipients were Stevenson High grads Elizabeth Gutierrez and Joshua May, and Zion-Benton grad Francisco Rivera.
The evening’s emcees were Bill Devore and Mike Babicz.
“Next year, we want to bring back former scholarship recipients and former inductees for our 25th anniversary celebration,” said Devore. “We’ll be looking for people who know how to contact them over the next year.”
Also next year, the Waukegan Hall of Fame portion of the program will return with several inductees into that Hall as well.