The New Trier High School Athletic Department will induct its third class into the Athletic Department Hall of Honor on Dec. 16, recognizing four individuals for their significant contributions to New Trier Athletics. The inductees will be honored during Alumni Night at the Winnetka Campus Gates Gymnasium in between the girls and boys varsity basketball games, which will be the last official games played in the 93-year-old space before it is demolished over winter break and replaced with new and improved athletic and academic facilities. The girls game begins at 5:45 p.m. and the boys game begins at 7:30 p.m., both against Evanston Township High School.
All four 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 2020-2021 honorees are:
Ben Almaguer (1928-1991)
Often called the “Father of NT Cross Country,” Almaguer began his career at New Trier as a Modern and Classical Languages teacher in 1955, the same year he founded the Cross Country program. He served as the Boys Cross Country coach from 1955-1980 (at New Trier from 1955-1964, and at New Trier East from 1965-1980); Assistant Cross Country coach from 1981-1990; and also served as Head Track and Field coach during his tenure. A Title IX pioneer, he allowed two New Trier female students to join, train, and race with the boys’ team in 1975 before founding the Girls Cross Country team in the late 1970s. Almagauer led New Trier to its first and only State Cross Country Championship title in 1959, a second place finish in 1960, and third place finish in 1962. He also led Track and Field athletes to a second place finish at State in 1964, and helped guide four additional State trophies as assistant coach. He helped found the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association (ITCCCA) and was elected to its Hall of Fame in 1981.
Gary Groh (1948-2015)
Groh was hired as a Technology Education teacher in 1973, later becoming Department Chair of the Technology Education and Driver Education Departments and serving as head coach for Girls Golf from 1987-2004. He coached 12 teams that qualified for the IHSA State meet, and led his team to become State Champions in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 (and one individual State Champion); four second-place finishes in 1989, 1990, 1994, and 1999; and a third-place finish in 1998. He also coached 18 All-State medalists. Known for his unique sense of humor and tremendous rapport with student athletes, Groh is remembered as someone who did everything he could to give his athletes the best opportunity to succeed.
Klein worked at New Trier for 34 years, serving as Head Baseball Coach, Assistant Baseball Coach, Assistant Football Coach, Physical Education teacher, and adviser before retiring in 1994. As one of the most successful baseball coaches in the country at any level, Klein was elected to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1980, followed by his induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988. He led his teams to four State quarterfinals and two IHSA Summer League Championships, and had an overall record of 967-468-7.
After decades of working in both the high school and collegiate settings, Ofcky transitioned into the role of Assistant Athletic Director at New Trier High School in 2002, where she also served as Head Badminton Coach and Assistant Girls Golf Coach until her retirement in 2017. She was named the State Badminton Coach of the Year by the Illinois Coaches Association in 2010, was honored with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Distinguished Service Award in 2015, and was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Director Association Hall of Fame in 2021. She has served multiple roles with the Illinois High School Sports Association, the Central Suburban League, the IADA and the NIAAA.
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 https://www.newtrier.k12.il.us/athletics.