Dwight Township Athletic 2015 Hall of Fame Induction
On January 16, a ceremony was held to honor the 2015 Dwight Township Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.
The first honoree, and a dominant one, was Rachel Drake Edwards, who was a softball standout for the Lady Trojans from 1991-94.
Rachel, a two-time first team all-conference and all-area pitcher, recorded 200 strikeouts as a sophomore, en route to a 17-4 record that season. A knee injury would sideline Drake her junior year, but she would bounce back with a vengeance, going 15-3 with a .425 average at the plate – leading Dwight to its first ever Interstate 8 conference championship, as well as the school’s first regional championship.
A loss in the sectional championship in 1994 is what Rachel cites as a defining time in her life, “because that loss strengthened my character and pushed me to work hearder, because after that moment, I wanted it even more,” she stated. Her softball career would continue as she joined the Illinois Wesleyan squad, earning varsity letters her freshman through junior years.
Another ACL tear would end her career early, but not before her Lady Hearts team played the USA Women’s Olympic softball team in Bloomington prior to their gold medal win in 1996. The biggest highlight of her playing days. Rachel Drake – 3-year varsity letter winner; 1st Team All-Conference; 1st Team All-Area; 2-time MVP; 3-year IWU letter winner.
Next to be inducted was Dwight “Whitey” Anderson, a three-sport standout from the class of 1974. As a varsity football player for three years, he played split end and cornerback – earning spots on many all-conference and all-area teams. His golf career was highlighted by a first place finish in both the conference and regional tournaments his junior year, followed by a second place finish his senior year. On the hardwood, however, is where Whitey did much of his damage, starting at point guard for the Trojans for three years. He led the team to two regional championships, in 1972 and 1974, and is currently the second leading scorer in Dwight history, with 1,523 points.
Anderson spoke highly of his former teammate, Tom Halloran, calling him “the best football and basketball player I ever played with.” And he also joked that he believes “playing sports helped me meet, date, and marry my wife of 38 years.” Dwight went on to play golf at JJC for two years, qualifying for the National Junior College Tournament his first year, along with winning a state championship with his team. He would again qualify for the National Tournament his second year. Dwight Anderson: 10 varsity letters – football, basketball, golf; 1st Team All-Conference – football, basketball; 1st Team All-Area – football, basketball; Second All-Time Leading Scorer – basketball; Out-standing Athlete Award – 1974
Also a 1974 graduate, Tom Halloran was the next inductee to the Hall of Fame. A Northeast All-Confer-ence selection for three years in football and basketball, not only was Halloran respected in the area, but his talents were recognized at the state level as well, as he was selected to the Joliet Herald and Daily Journal All-Area teams in both football and basketball, as well as a Little All-State selection in the same sports in the Chicago Daily News. Tom joined Whitey as a part of two regional championships, and remains the leading scorer in team history in basketball, with 1,544 points. And this was all done before the introduction of the three-point line.
When looking back on those times, Halloran mentioned Coach John Kresl, stating “he was an outstanding teacher and was the most prepared coach I ever had.” He would also comment on Whitey being “the most influential teammate he had.” Tom would stay on the court after graduation, this time as a certified IHSA basketball official – participating in five regional championships and one sectional in 25 years. He also coached boys and girls basketball in Pontiac for eight years. Tom Halloran: 10 varsity letters – baseball, football, basketball; 1st Team All-Conference – football, basketball, baseball; 1st Team All-Area – football, basketball, baseball; Chicago News Little All-State Selection – football, baseball; 1st All-Time Leading Scorer – basketball.
Next, nine players from the undefeated 1967 Trojan football team joined at center court for their induction. Known for their explosive offense, Dwight’s 9-0 record would crown them North East Conference champions in ‘67. The Trojans averaged 37 points a game that season, while only allowing an average of nine points a game – a margin of victory of four touchdowns – domination defined. Since their were no playoffs in those days, Dwight took it upon themselves to end the season with two shutouts of rivals Lisle and Pontiac, ending the year at a perfect 9-0.
1967 Trojans Roster: Paul Carpenter, Tom Hoffman, Doug Christian-sen, Kenn Clausen, John Riccolo, Jake Burkhart, Terry Kiper, Jack Weller, Curt Christensen, Patt Prindiville, Julio Fraga, Mike Bloxam, Mike Mon-ferdini, Lee Fieldman, Bill Ogg, Kim Drechsel, Darryll Weikum, Karl Amidon, Bill Kruger, David Bozarth, Terry Tambling, Mike Battrell, Gary Neville, Rick Parker, David Kinkade, Bob Weller, Peter Spandet, Larry Siedentop, Doug Weller, Rick Knudsen, Greg Kern, Mike Metske, Steve Bennett; Coaches: Bill Gilkey, John Kresl.
More former Dwight football players would come to the floor as they honored the final inductee, Coach William Gilkey, who put up a 92-56-2 record during his 17 years of coaching at Dwight High School. Thirteen of those seasons would end with the Trojans over .500. His most successful season, aside from 1967, was in 1962, when his team went 8-0-1 on the year. That team was inducted in 2014. His players recall Gilkey being ahead of his time in regards to his creative play-calling and simple execution. They said that he taught them how to do things the right way, which they believe was a huge part of their success. William Gilkey: 92-56-2 record in 17 years.