Chesterton Tribune

Back-to-Back Champs: CHS boys and girls win second straight DAC All Sports titles

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By TR HARLAN

It’s always hard to climb to the top of the mountain, but it’s even harder to stay there.

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 2007-08 campaign.

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 Swimming.

“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 school.”

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 eyes.

“For the school, it’s a real big thing. To do it two years in a row is really impressive.”

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 hurt.

“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 of.

“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 well.

“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 Chesterton.”

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.

 

Posted 8/1/2008