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NSA Girl's Fast Pitch Softball
Illinois NSA

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

Ray Johnson
Umpire
Chicago, Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

Ray Johnson, twice married, has five children: Latitia, Latonya, Lashawn, Andrew and Raymond; 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Ray Johnson began playing 16-inch softball with the Bingos in 1961 under the tutelage of John "Wolf Wilson", one of the premier players of the Chicago land area. Ray played on the Flamingos, the first African American teams to finish in the top three in the 16-inch World Series, in Sheboygan Wisconsin in 1968. He played softball until 1985.

Ray Johnson started umpiring in 1981. Always a professional, Ray umpired both girl's fast-pitch and slow-pitch for NSA. Ray umpired over 5,000 games in his 27 year umpiring career. Ray umpired in numerous leagues, qualifiers, Super NIT's, Super Regionals and State Championships! He worked in14 NSA World Series and 2 Super World Series - the Men's Class B in Muncie and the Men's Class C in Indianapolis.

Ray umpired girls' fast-pitch World Series championships in Columbus, Schaumburg, East Peoria and South Carolina. He was chosen to work the finals 5 times and the plate once. In slow-pitch, Ray umpired World Series championships in Country Club Hills and Kankakee; and Super Worlds in Muncie and Indianapolis. He worked most of the finals and was the plate umpire!

In reference to why he umpired, Ray Johnson stated that he "enjoyed the sport and that it was a great way to keep in contact with sport" Ray continued that he "thanked God for his mentors, all of the directors and the great experiences he had working with people!"


Greg Marek
Meritorious Service
Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

Greg Marek blessed the lives of many people and there was something about him that you would never forget - his heart! Greg's smile and laugh would always bring everything back down to earth - he just wanted to have fun! Greg was a ballplayer, a team manager, a director, a groundskeeper, a promoter, but most of all, he was a human being experiencing all of the ups and downs in life.

People sometimes took Greg for granted and now that he is gone, we realize that we miss him! Greg was a manager and player on the following teams: Hustlers, Slammers, Rock n Roll Express, The Page and The Sports Page and Y Not. The Sports Page was ranked no.1 in 1991 by Chicago Metro Softball Magazine, Sports Page was impressive winning state championships in 1986, 1989 and 1991; Regional and Metro Championships in 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1991; and participating in World Series three times including third place in the NSA Class B World Series in 1991! When Softball City in Grayslake opened in1989, Greg was there to umpire as many games as he could get umpire. Owner Otis Carter made Greg the complex manager and Greg started running tournaments on weekends and league play during the week. He also helped out at the Waterhole and Pappa Gus's softball complexes!

Greg started the NSA Rites of Spring Tournament. (1987-1997) During the 2005 Men's Class C World Series in Kankakee, a torrential rainstorm raked havoc with the tournament that weekend and Greg was the first person out of the press box to help rake and pour diamond dry on the diamonds most of the day on Saturday. He asked for some hefty compensation - a case of beer and still worked all of his games on Sunday! Greg was well-respected as an umpire as he worked many softball tournaments in Illinois and Wisconsin including State Championship, Super NIT's, Super Regionals, Men's and Coed World Series.

On January 19, 2008 Greg Marek received the NSA North Zone Umpire 110 percent Award, in Lexington Kentucky! We wish that Greg Marek was here now to enjoy his induction for Meritorious Service into the NSA Hall Of Fame - December 6, 2008! Congratulations Greg Marek!


River Road Park
Complex
Kankakee, Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

National City River Road Park has long history of providing softball leagues to the community and hosting slow-pitch and girl's fast-pitch tournaments attracting thousands of teams from the United States and Canada. Originally hunting grounds, the park was donated by the state of Illinois to the Kankakee Valley Park District. River Road Park showcases a beautiful wooded river front area and six diamond complex. It has become the home of hundreds of area and out-of-town teams and thousand of softball players each summer! The park has been the recipient of the "NSA Outstanding Complex Award" in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007and 2008. This national award is given to parks that provide outstanding facilities for NSA tournaments!

River Road Park has hosted over 60 state championships, 12 Super NIT's, 7 Super Regionals, and 10 World Series. The park has hosted softball tournaments with 100 teams or more 10 times. Highlights of tournaments hosted include the NSA Early Bird Slow-Pitch Classic (1980-2008), Men's Slow-Pitch World Series (1998-2008), NSA Class B Girl's Fast-Pitch Illinois State Championship (2004-2005) and NSA Land of Lincoln Girl's Fast-Pitch Rec Championships (2004-2008), The park district started hosting softball leagues on two fields in 1971. Two more diamonds were added in the 70's. A pavilion, press box and lights were added in 1981 Two more diamonds were added in the 80's. In 2001, all six diamonds were re-fenced, infields were shortened and a new diamond mix added.

A tourism grant added lights to diamonds 4 and 5. A playground was constructed in 2006 and in 2007 covers were added to the dugout. Jim Romanek, Executive

Director of the Kankakee Valley Park District said: "We would like to thank all of the players, teams, fans, umpires and NSA for coming to River Road Park! Without the support of all of you, this would not have been possible! Thank You!"


Sherri Wendt
Player / Manager
St. Charles, Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

Sherri Wendt lives in St. Charles with her husband Eric, son Robert and two daughters Nicole and Alexis. She started playing baseball at the age of 6 and played baseball till she was in high school then switched to softball, played all 4 years on varsity.

In 1988, Sherri Wendt played on a fast pitch softball travel called the Sidekicks and then in 1991 started playing slow-pitch. She played 3rd base and left center with the Northern Diamonds from 1992-1998. Northern Diamonds was one of the top NSA Women's in the Illinois, winning several tournaments in Country Club Hills, Kankakee and Rockford.

In 1999 Sherri Wendt started her own women's team called "The Fun Bus", playing left center until 2005. Fun Bus left their mark on the field, playing in 3 NSA World Series from 2002-2005. In 2004, Fun Bus finished 2nd in the NSA State. Fun Bus finished 9th in the NSA World Series in North Carolina in 2004. After 4 knee and 2 back surgeries, Sherri was forced to hang up the cleats in 2006.

Sherri Wendt started coaching the St. Charles Comets fast-pitch softball and her daughter Alexis' fast pitch travel team in 2007. The Comets qualified and went to the World Series the past 2 years. Sherri and Her husband have recently built a softball training and batting facility in St. Charles called the Kane County Dugout!

When asked about the many memories of softball, Sherri stated that "Every minute I played it was exciting because I was doing the thing I loved the most."


Steve Wilhelm
Player / Manager
Mascoutah, Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

Steve "Hoyt" Wilhelm began his softball career participating in intramurals at Illinois State University in the 1980's. After graduation, Steve returned to Southern Illinois and began playing in area softball leagues with his childhood friends as the Busch Brewers. In 1991, the Brewers combined talents with the High Lites softball team. Hoyt, as Steve was coined by his teammates, participated in many State, World and Super World Tournaments.

Team accomplishments include 4 Men's State Championships, 2 Coed State Championships, 1 Super NIT Championship, 2 Super Regional Championships, 1 Central Divisional Championship and 1 Super World Championship.

Individual Awards include 10 All Tournament Team Awards, 4 Defensive Most Valuable Player Awards and 4 Tournament Most Valuable Player Awards including receiving the Most Valuable Player and Best Tournament Coach Awards at the 1995 Super World Tournament. Hoyt coached two different teams to 12 or more tournament victories in a single season (Brewers 1995, Eagles 2002). In addition, his team was selected to receive the Outstanding Team Sportsmanship Award at the 1995 World Series Tournament which included 140 teams and was voted on by the tournament umpire staff.

Most importantly, Hoyt is proud to have participated in slow-pitch softball with quality individuals and credits his teammates for his success as a player and a coach. Hoyt's best memories include playing ball with his kids between tournament games and winning the 1995 NSA Super World Series! Steve and his wife Sarah have been married since 1983. Their children, Rob, Mark, Wes and Kristen grew up at Illinois softball complexes and traveled with their dad to tournaments around the country. Employed by Mears Group, Inc., Steve serves as Vice President of Finance.


Mike Wlodek
Player
Chicago, Illinois
Inducted December 6, 2008

Mike "Woody" Wlodek has been married for 11 years to his wife Debbie. Mike lives in Oak Forest, and has worked for Allied Tube in Harvey for the last 28 years. Mike started playing softball in 1979 at Lou Boudreau stadium in Harvey, and currently has played in over 3800 games! Teams Mike has played on include: Assault and Battery, Band of Demons, Bandits, Blu, Club, Commission, Fetch, Grasshoppers, Ice, I'm Sorry, Jokers, Lugnuts, Men from Uncle, Petes Hidaway, Rubes Sportsman, Storm, Speed, Sulky Inn, That's It and Surge.

Mike's teams in 1995 won the Class A state tournament in Orland Park and won back to back 16" world tournaments in Orland Park (1994) and (1995) with Speed. Also won 16" metro state and 16" Nationals with Men from Uncle (1998). Mike played on 3 NSA state championship teams Jokerman (2000), Storm (2002) and Lugnuts (2006); and two NSA World Series championship teams winning with Storm (2002) and Lugnuts (2005). Mike was the 16" NSA MVP and all-state player with Jokerman (2002) and made the NSA 12" D Illinois Northern State all tournament team (2004). Mike was also NSA State Most Outstanding Offensive Player (2006). Mike has been named NSA All-World (2002, 2004, 2007).

Mike is currently a member of the Commission 16" team from Chicago Heights. Playing on this team in Matteson since 1999, going 141-19 this team has won 6 league championships and taking 9 of 10 league championships. Mike participated in competitive leagues at Alsip, Blue Island, Calumet City, Country Club Hills, Dolton, Harvey, Homewood, Matteson, Mt. Greenwood. Park Forest, Riverdale, South Holland, Mike has played on many numerous teams and enjoyed all the new people he has met and played with, but his most enjoyable was playing with his brothers in the 12" leagues in Dolton from 1987-1994.

Being an umpire and a player many gratifying experiences and pleasures have come playing and officiating this game. Hoping to use my playing experience Mike hopes to give back something to this game, so the younger players become better players and play this game with passion, integrity, and sportsmanship.