New Trier Athletic Department inducts eight honorees to inaugural Hall of Honor

Athletic Department honorees

The New Trier High School Athletic Department will induct its first class into the Athletic Department Hall of Honor next month, recognizing eight individuals for their significant contributions to New Trier Athletics. The inductees will be honored on Feb. 1 at the Winnetka Campus Gates Gym between the girls and boys varsity basketball games against Glenbrook South.

All eight honorees have consistently represented and embodied the department's mission to "provide an experience that fosters an emotional, physical, and intellectual foundation for growth and well-being." The inductees created and supported programs to enhance the quality of students' educational and extracurricular experiences, laying the groundwork for New Trier's exceptional athletic participation and performance.

The Class of 2018-2019 honorees are:

Bonnie Beach
Beach worked at New Trier from 1967-2001, serving as a teacher, adviser, department chair, and head coach for girls volleyball, field hockey, and badminton. She led the unification of two separate boys and girls P.E. departments, developing a deep and comprehensive Kinetic Wellness curriculum. Beach was a member of the State Advisory Committee for Volleyball and coached the first IHSA Girls Volleyball Champions in 1975. She co-founded the Illinois Coaches Association for Girls' and Women's Sports in 1977 and served as the association's first president. Beach also served as New Trier Education Association President from 1984-1985 and won the Women's Sports Foundation national award in 1990.

Eugene "Chick" Cichowski
Cichowski began his career at New Trier as an assistant football and wrestling coach in 1962 after a brief career in the NFL, which he had to forego due to injury. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1956 and also played for the Washington Redskins and Calgary Stampeders. Cichowski became head football coach in 1971, leading New Trier to nine conference championships, 145 victories and a winning percentage of 75 percent, which ranks him among the top coaches in the state. His 1973 team was ranked number one in Illinois.

Lee Getschow
Getschow was a Kenilworth resident who started the Dad's Club in 1975 and served as the organization's first president. The club served as an opportunity for fathers of the varsity football players to meet with the head coach and watch game film from the previous contest. Getschow held an annual fundraiser at his restaurant to raise money for the program, and the club eventually evolved into the present-day Booster Club. He also founded and coached the Kenilworth Rebels Football program, which remains a large feeder program for New Trier football, and he continued running the program from the sidelines until his death in 2000.

Lee Kennicke
Throughout her 30-year career at New Trier, Kennicke served as an assistant coach, head coach, and assistant athletic director, as well as the Girls' Physical Education department chair at New Trier East prior to the merger of East and West. She co-founded the Illinois Coaches' Association for Girls' and Women's Sports and created and led New Trier's Student Athlete Leadership Team (S.A.L.T.). When she served as assistant coach for girls volleyball, her team won the first-ever IHSA Girls Volleyball Championship. She was the first head coach for girls swimming and diving, track and field and badminton. She captured three state titles in badminton and oversaw multiple state tournaments as an IHSA State Tournament manager.

John A. Schneiter
Schneiter began his career at New Trier in 1963, where he worked as a dedicated Social Studies and Driver Education teacher and coached boys and girls basketball and boys tennis. Prior to his tenure at New Trier, at age 27 he became the youngest coach to win the IHSA State Championship at Stephen Decatur High School, in Decatur, Illinois, where he was inducted to both the school and city's Halls of Fame. Under his leadership, both the 1973 boys and 1989 girls basketball teams placed second in state, and he also served as the coach of boys AA North Shore All Stars in 1981 and girls in 1990. He was the first tennis coach at New Trier West and led the team to eight IHSA State Championships, was nominated for IHSA Coach of the Year, and was inducted into the Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Mel Sheets
Sheets worked at New Trier from 1965 to 1996, serving as an adviser, Physical Education and Driver Education teacher, co-sponsor of Tri-Ship and varsity boys golf, basketball and baseball coach. He is a member of the IBCA Hall of Fame, Millikin Athletic Hall of Fame, Millikin Medallion Society, North Shore Walk of Fame, and received the IBCA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Sheets' basketball teams won 14 conference titles, 12 regionals, 9 sectionals, 4 super-sectionals, 4 elite eight appearances and placed fourth in the state in 1996. He also coached the winning 1991 IBCA AA North All-Star Basketball team, and was the head coach of the 1995-96 IHSA State Championship golf team.

Bruce Woodbury
Woodbury, a New Trier alumnus, served as an assistant coach and head coach for both boys and girls swimming. In his 18 years as the girls head coach, his teams won 11 state championships, were runners-up six times and placed third once, totaling 18 state trophies in 18 years. He coached hundreds of All-State and NISCA All-Americans, was named Sectional Coach of the Year several times and State Coach of the Year at least four times. Today, the Illinois Swimming and Diving Association's Girls Hall of Fame Award is named the "Bruce Woodbury Award" and is presented to individuals who have promoted girls swimming in Illinois at all levels through leadership, service and outstanding achievement.

Robert Naughton
After serving as a Math teacher and head football coach at New Trier for an exemplary 13-year tenure, Naughton assumed the role of athletic director in 1981, a 19-year commitment that increased the school's athletic program to 29 sports and 89 levels of competition and produced 41 state championship teams. While girls interscholastic competition was still in its infancy at the time, Naughton was able to enhance the overall program with support from his assistant, Lee Kennicke, providing a model for other school districts in the state. Throughout his career, Naughton was selected as the Chicago Tribune Coach of the Year, the Chicago Catholic League Man of the Year and the Frank Leahy Award winner, as well as inducted into the Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and Illinois Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame. In 2000, the New Trier District 203 Board of Education named the school's football stadium "Robert Naughton Field."

New Trier solicited nominations for the Athletic Department Hall of Honor in three categories: head coach, assistant coach, or at-large candidates (administrators, community members and any individuals, excluding student-athletes) who served New Trier, New Trier East and/or New Trier West during their tenures. Their names will be displayed in the Hall of Honor at the Winnetka Campus.

A selection committee made of the athletic director, assistant athletic directors, Winnetka campus principal and selected head coaches chose the eight honorees from a large field of nominations. More information about the criteria and nomination process can be found at http://www.newtrier.k12.il.us/extracurricular_activities/athletics/hall_of_honor_nominations/ .