By TR HARLAN
It’s always hard to climb to the top of the mountain, but it’s even harder to
But, the Chesterton Trojans found a way to do it as they picked up their
second consecutive Duneland Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy during the
The boys outdistanced Crown Point (28.5-31) for top honors on the strength of
conference titles in Basketball, Swimming and Golf. The girls edged Lake
Central (31.5-32) on the strength of league titles in Volleyball and
“It’s a compliment to our coaching staff, our athletes and our community,”
Chesterton Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg said. “We’re thrilled to once
again be the Duneland Conference All-Sports champions.”
The All-Sports Awards take into account all 10 sports sponsored within the
conference for boys and girls.
Points are awarded to schools based on their finish in the league standings.
One point is awarded for first, two for second, three for third, etc … and
the school that accumulates the fewest points is the winner.
“This speaks volumes to what goes on in our school district,” CHS Principal
Jim Goetz said. “It starts at the top with our Athletic Director (Garry
Nallenweg). He’s simply the best. I’d put him up against anybody at any
Longtime CHS Swimming & Diving Coach Kevin Kinel agreed.
“You have to give Garry a ton of credit,” Kinel said. “Last year it was a
real big deal. Those of us that have been around a while know hard it is to
get everybody to that level. Garry’s done that, everybody is the same in his
“For the school, it’s a real big thing. To do it two years in a row is really
Nallenweg was quick to deflect attention though.
“I’ve said at every athletic awards program we’ve had, I’ll put our coaching
staff up against any in the conference, Northwest Indiana or the State,”
Nallenweg said. “We’ve got a good group of coaches that are very
knowledgeable and dedicated. We encourage our coaches to go to clinics and
conferences to better themselves.
“We support them financially the best we can. I don’t want them to feel like
they can’t be successful because they don’t have something.”
On the boys side, the Trojans trailed archrival Valparaiso 10.5-12.5 at the
end of the fall season, while the girls trailed Lake Central 6.5-14.5.
“If you look at it on paper, we probably shouldn’t have won it,” Goetz said.
“We won some conference titles, but how well did we do in everything across
the board? That’s the sign of a successful athletic department.”
“It’s not something that we set out to win and or talk about at the beginning
of the year in our coaches meeting,” Nallenweg said. “We want our teams to be
competitive and the All-Sports Award will take care of itself.”
A big winter sports season for the Trojans put them on top in both the boys
and girls standings. The boys held a 16.5-22 lead over Crown Point, while the
girls held a slim 22-23 lead over Lake Central.
A note that wasn’t lost on CHS Boys Track & Field coach John Snyder during
his preseason speech.
“I think it’s something that our kids didn’t really understand what it
means,” Snyder said. “Just how important it is. I think if we make it a big
deal, it’ll start to be understood and get more and more important to the
community and the kids.”
Another solid spring season brought the trophies home, including the fourth
time in six years for the girls. The All-Sports Awards have been handed out
since 1971 with Valparaiso tallying the vast majority of the honors for both
girls and boys until the latest Chesterton run.
“How many years in a row did Valpo win it?” Goetz asked. “Now, all of a
sudden, the smallest school in the conference has won it two years in a row.
And to take it from them, isn’t bad either.”
A multi-talented class of athletes over the last couple of years also hasn’t
“Last year’s senior class was a very good class,” Goetz said. “When you have
a school that is good at athletics, or any other extracurricular activity, it
starts to avalanche. It gives the school and community something to be proud
“That, in turn, brings more people to the games, makes more kids want to play
and things continue to feed off of each other.”
And that leads to the community, who has to accept a portion of the credit as
“We have some good youth programs in the community that are run in
conjunction with our head coaches and I think that’s a big part of it,”
Nallenweg said. “As long as the youth programs are run by people who are
doing it for the right reasons, we’re very supportive of them. That’s not the
case in every community. We don’t care how much they win, we want them using
the same ideas that we use at the high school level.
“I tell parents all the time that we aren’t the only community with youth
programs. That’s why I’m very happy with the way our programs are tying into
our high school program and working with us instead of against us.”
“We have some great parents and kids,” Goetz said. “We have great community
support. Our youth programs do a great job and our kids show up here at the
high school with some abilities and a knowledge of the game. Good youth
programs are huge to any High School athletic program.
“I’ve seen kids in other communities get ruined by a coach at a young age and
I haven’t seen that here. Then our coaches here at the high school follow
through and do a great job also. It’s a tribute to what it means to be from
And what does it mean to be from Chesterton? Goetz understands.
“When I first came here, the one thing that really stuck out to me was that
we had a football player that was also in the show choir,” Goetz recalled.
“That’s not a normal combination that you would expect. But, he wanted to do
it and we found a way to make it work.
“That’s just Chesterton. We do our thing and everybody supports it.”
And they win too.