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NSA Girl's Fast Pitch Softball
Illinois NSA

Hall of Fame Class of 2010

Bob Biehl
Director
Champaign, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Bob played and managed the Champaign-Urbana Merchants from 1974-1980. In 1980, after moving to Nebraska, he played for the Sioux City Soos and in 1992 for the Sibley Merchants and the Villa Grove Rookies, retiring from playing after the 1996 season. After returning to Illinois, he coached high school softball at Champaign Centennial as a volunteer from 1992-1998.

In 1999, he was hired as the assistant softball coach at St. Joseph-Ogden High School where he is still coaching today. While at SJO, the team was third in the State in 2005, and was IHSA State Champions in 2006. One of their biggest wins was the 2006 Super Sectional game played at the U of I against Beecher. SJO scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the 7th inning to advance to the state tournament. Beecher had been ranked tenth nationally and that was their first loss in two years. SJO went on to win the State Championship that year.

Bob helped organize the Central Illinois Diamonds in 1995 and he coached from 1995-2001. During that time, the teams had impressive finishes in the National Softball Association (NSA) World Series including:
1995 - 18u finished 5th
1999 - 18u finished 4th
2001 - 16u finished 3rd
2002 - 10U were World Champions.

Bob was appointed the NSA Illinois State Youth and Adult Fast Pitch Director in 2002. He organized all the State Tournaments and was chosen as a site director for the Youth World Series Tournaments. Bob directed the Central Illinois Diamonds Fast-Pitch Classic Tournaments from 1996-2008! He created the NSA Missouri-Illinois Border War Tournament and recruited and directed the NSA Women’s World Series. Bob has been involved with the game of fast pitch softball for fifty years. He has seen many changes in equipment, athletes and methods.

“Fast pitch softball is the best and most exciting game around,” says Bob, “especially when you can use all the assets and skills, long ball and short ball.”


Clarence Flessner
Umpire
Rantoul, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Clarence “Hans” Flessner started playing organized baseball when he was eight years old in Little League and eventually played and managed in the Eastern Illinois Baseball League. At some point he started playing fast-pitch softball also, sometimes playing a baseball game in the afternoon, and then playing a fast-pitch doubleheader in the evening. Hans played for such teams as Flatville, Urbana, Rantoul, and Champaign-Urbana Merchants. He also managed the Champaign-Urbana Merchants from about 1989 to 1992.

During this time, in 1990, they won the Illinois ASA State Tournament, which allowed them to travel to Minot, North Dakota, to play in the Men’s ASA “A” Nationals. Sometime about 1990 or 1991, Hans pulled a hamstring, and decided to end his playing days. He continued to manage the Champaign-Urbana Merchants until about 1992, when he decided to retire from softball altogether. But the lure of the softball game was too great, and after a couple of years away from it, Hans decided he had to be involved somehow, anyhow, in a game he loved, so he started umpiring both baseball and softball. In those early days of umpiring, Hans did mostly adult baseball and softball.

In 1996, he was recruited to umpire in the First Annual Central Illinois Diamonds Softball Classic NSA World Series Qualifier in Rantoul. Hans had umpired a few local youth games, and he was impressed with the quality of play in this tournament. Hans was hooked and he worked the Diamonds tournament every year until its last year in 2008. Hans has worked countless NSA Illinois State Tournaments over the years. He worked the Youth World Series in Columbus, OH, in 2004, Charlotte, NC, in 2005, East Peoria in 2006, Northwest Indiana in 2007, and East Peoria in 2008 plus a Youth Super World Series. Hans also worked the first Border Wars Tournament in St. Louis, MO.

“I always liked to play ball”, said Hans, “and couldn’t stand to be away from it. Umpiring was the next best thing to playing. I’ve had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends, and NSA has been good to me!”


Barry Parks
Umpire in Chief / Umpire
Beecher, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Barry Parks umpired his first game when his oldest daughter was about 7 years old, and just beginning to play softball; coaches of competing teams shared 3 innings each of officiating; she’s now in her early 30’s. That coaching / umpiring dual role expanded as each of his three amazing daughters learned and played softball.

After doing what managers, coaches, players and fans seemed to feel was a good consistent job of umpiring, he was asked to also start scheduling for local programs. That eventually evolved into Barry being an UIC and scheduler of two recognized and respected softball / baseball officiating organizations NSA and BPA. Barry was referred to Les Duncan, a primary assignor. He received strong commendations from managers and coaches, soon receiving varsity contests, Barry started working college play as well, which then led to numerous collegiate games including the National Junior College World Series in Joliet. With the recommendation of Les Duncan, Barry began working some of the NSA Kankakee area tournaments under Brian Hebert and Curtis Page. Barry worked many games in Kankakee at all levels, including many Championship Games. It was then he formed a relationship with Gerry Gund, the tournament director. That same year, Barry was first invited to work the NSA “A” World Series, an honor he excitedly accepted.

Four Illinois umpires headed out to Columbus, OH that year! Barry reported that at the conclusion, NSA Tournament UIC Don Snopek said to our group, “You guys from Illinois can work my World Series ANY TIME!” And since that time, Barry had the opportunity to work every NSA World Series event through the 2009 season - including several opportunities to serve as crew chief and plate umpire for Championship Games! Unfortunately for Barry in 2010, personal health issues kept him from working the World Series.

In 2002, Barry was ‘encouraged’ to take on the role of NSA Chicagoland South Area Umpire-in-Chief working primarily for NSA area director Gerry Gund. Thus, he then began managing tournaments and scheduling umpires as well as running clinics to teach umpires the rules and proper mechanics of the game. Barry puts together a clinic program that is one of the best in Illinois, sharing what many great officials taught him. Barry’s personal touch and enthusiasm is contagious as he understands that teams are customers! Barry said, “Without customers there are no teams, no tournaments and no games to work!"

In 2005, Barry was asked to become the BPA Illinois State UIC by Gerry Gund, BPA State Director. He agreed and has been scheduling baseball and softball tournaments ever since. Barry served as the Tournament UIC for the BPA 16u-18u Boys Baseball World Series - the first in the history for BPA at those levels! Barry received the Northern Zone 110% Award in 2007. He successfully schedules umpires for 50+ teams in multiple locations six or more weekends per year. The largest tournament Barry assigned was “The Howling for Cystic Fibrosis” with 92 teams in 2009!

Barry said that his biggest motivation as UIC is “Having managers, coaches and fans regularly thank him and commend my umpires for the jobs they do at the NSA / BPA tournaments!”


Harry Peterson
Manager / Coach
Whiting, Indiana
Inducted December 4, 2010

Harry Peterson’s 16-inch softball career started in 1988 playing in a local league in Whiting, Indiana that used gloves. Remember that true Chicago Style softball is played bare hand and playing in Indiana teams used gloves. Harry said, “This gave us an advantage when we played teams (from Chicago) that did not know us, when they saw we were from Indiana and had to play bare handed they figured we were a push over and did not take us seriously. It took 3 or 4 years of tournament success to finally get the recognition and respect from the Chicago teams.” In 1992 Harry became the manager of Spebars Tavern before the first game of the season because the incumbent manager no longer wanted to “be responsible” for the team. With no one stepping up to fill out the lineup card, he grabbed a pen and the rest is history. In 1998 the first year of the NSA State and NSA World Series tournaments Harry’s Storm team went 5 and 0 in the state tournament and 7 and 0 in the World Series. The team was nervous and voiced their concerns to Les Duncan because Storm could not use gloves since NSA 16-inch is bare handed and the league they played in used gloves. Since the inception of the NSA 16-inch program, Harry has managed, coached or had his players participate in every NSA World Series tournament that has been played.The following is a list of team and personal accomplishments: NSA Team Accomplishments 1998 Storm - NSA Softball State and World Series Champions 1999 Storm - NSA Softball World Series Champions 2000 Storm - NSA Softball World Series 4th place 2002 Storm - NSA Softball World Series Champions 2004 Lugnuts – NSA World Series Runner Up 2005 Lugnuts – NSA World Series Champions 2006 Lugnuts – NSA World Series 3rd place 2010 Stars and Stripes - NSA World Series Runner UpNSA Personal Accomplishments 1998 NSA All World 1999 NSA All World 2002 NSA All WorldHarry concluded saying, “First of all without my supportive wife Cecilia none of this would have been possible and now I am happy that I can share these experiences with my 2-year-old son Ajay. I also have learned not to take myself too seriously because after all this is a game we are playing. Finally if it was not for the dedication and confidence that my players have had in me over the years I would not be in the position that I am tonight being inducted into the NSA Hall of Fame.”


Schaumburg Athletic Association
Schaumburg Sluggers
Girl's Fast-Pitch Organization Schaumburg, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Schaumburg Sluggers/Schaumburg Athletic Association sponsors over 50 youth softball teams plus 5 other sports – a total of over 6,000 total registrants each year. In 1995, the Schaumburg Sluggers began playing NSA softball tournaments and teams have competed in the NSA World Series every season since 1995! Teams from the Schaumburg Athletic Association have placed 2nd twice, 5th, 7th, 10th and 17th in the NSA Nationals during the past 10 years plus placed 3rd in the Super World Series in 2003. Schaumburg Sluggers have been a top three NSA state finisher numerous times including 3rd in 2010 and 2nd in 2009.

In 2003, Schaumburg and the Athletic Association hosted the NSA Girls Fast-Pitch Class B World Series! 221 teams participated in the week-long event held at six softball complexes. Schaumburg Sluggers/Schaumburg Athletic Association hosted the NSA Illinois Girls Fast-Pitch State Championship in Schaumburg - The tournament grew from 90 in teams in 1996 to 168 teams in 1999.

From 1996-1999, the Schaumburg Sluggers and then state director Chris Garner, established a $500 college scholarship awarded to a player in the State Tournament. The award was based on hustle and good sportsmanship.

In 1995 the Schaumburg Athletic Association began hosting Slugfest, a NSA National Qualifier which has continued for 16 consecutive years. The tournament was recognized by the Chicago Tribune as one of the best tournaments in the state in 1996.

In 2010, 68 teams from the 10u-14u levels competed.

In 1996, the Schaumburg Athletic Association hosted the USA Olympic team including Lisa Fernandez, Michelle Smith, Dot Richardson, and Michelle Ventrella on a stop during their country-wide tour! The Olympic team played against an all star team coached by the Sluggers.

In 1999, Schaumburg Sluggers/Schaumburg Athletic Association was awarded the “NSA 110% Award” from the NSA National Office! This photo, submitted to the Illinois Hall of Fame, shows the Lady Sluggers and families from all age groups celebrating their finish in the 2010 NSA National Championship in South Carolina. The Schaumburg Sluggers 16u finished 2nd (Finalist) and gathered for a Runner-up National Championship picture in South Carolina!

“SAA would like to thank the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who helped in our endeavors!” said Frank Hill, Slugger Coach, “Through them, enjoyable events were provided for thousands of girls and families!"


Frank Vojtech
Umpire
Mokena, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Frank Vojtech has been married to Peggy for 42 years and lives in Mokena. He has two daughters, Kathy and Debbie; four grandchildren: Alyssa, Jimmy, Sean and Colin. Frank has an extensive collection of NSA tournament memorabilia! Frank has spent the past 40 years as a coach, player and now an umpire. Teams Frank has played on include: Sulky Inn of Harvey, Brickyard of Blue Island, and Paddy B’s of Orland Park. While playing for Paddy B’s of Orland Park they achieved 5 Co-ed league championships 1987-1990 and a Men’s league championship in Alsip.

From 2000-2004 he played 12” senior softball for Orland Park Aurelio’s-Hooters. Frank went to Las Vegas for the Hooters (50-55) Senior Division. In 1990, Frank started umpiring men, women, and co-ed 12” and 16” softball for Steve Bobzin, Jim McIntyre, Willis Miles and Les Duncan in the Chicago suburbs. He was a workhorse umpiring nightly at league games in Alsip, Frankfort Square, Country Club Hills and Oak Lawn. Frank worked numerous tournaments including states, nationals and World Series.

In 1999, when NSA was established, Frank started umpiring for Dick “Polock” Kanoski and Bob Kerness. Frank worked numerous NSA 12-inch Qualifiers, States, Super States, Super Regionals and World Series! He traveled to work tournaments in Crete, Crystal Lake, Decatur, Godley, Kankakee, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana.

In 2007, Frank was chosen to umpire the NSA Super “E” World Series in Owensboro, Kentucky.  Frank received the NSA North Zone 110% Achievement Award in 2009. Softball has always been a passion for Frank Vojtech and has always been an important part of his life! Frank said, “I am truly honored to be inducted into the Illinois NSA Softball Hall of Fame. I am thrilled to be a part of the NSA family and am grateful to all of my family, friends, teammates, and umpires for this wonderful experience!”


Leonard Winchester
Umpire in Chief
St. Joseph, Illinois
Inducted December 4, 2010

Leonard Winchester played outfield in fast-pitch and slow-pitch for about 3 years in the late 1970’s but with his job at the railroad, it was difficult to make all of the games and eventually he gave up playing. Leonard started umpiring about the same time usually as a volunteer on the bases. He found out that he enjoyed it, and started calling the plate also. Leonard umpired slow-pitch and men’s fast-pitch for several years whenever his railroad job allowed. He started umpiring youth fast-pitch in the mid 1980’s when his daughter started playing and at that time no one wanted to umpire girls. Being on call 24/7 on the railroad, it was tough to maintain a firm schedule.

In 1997, after leaving the railroad, he started umpiring more, doing youth softball and baseball games all around East Central Illinois. In 2000 Bob Biehl talked Leonard into being the UIC for his Central Illinois Diamonds tournament, and he started working the NSA program. At that time he was working every weekday night locally, and most weekends in tournaments around the state.

In 2004 Leonard accepted the position of Illinois State Fast pitch UIC, and assumed the duties of recruiting, scheduling and appointing umpires for the state tournaments while conducting training and clinics during the year to teach current rules and proper mechanics. Leonard has worked numerous local tournaments including Qualifiers, State Tournaments, World Series, and Super World Series as an umpire and as a UIC. He was Site UIC for several Youth World Series as well as several Women’s World Series.

Leonard has been the Co-UIC for the “Braggin’ Rights Border Wars Tournament” in St. Louis the last few years.Leonard has received the following NSA awards:
2002 Northern Zone Fast-Pitch Elite Four Umpire
2003 Eddie Caillouett Award (National Fast-Pitch Umpire of the Year)
2006 Eddie Caillouett Award (National Fast-Pitch Umpire of the Year) Note: Leonard is one of only two umpires who have won this award more than once.
2007 North-Central Zone UIC of the Year

Leonard has also coached high school girl’s softball since 1988 as a volunteer pitching coach, starting at Villa Grove High School where they won two Regionals.

In 2000 he moved to St. Joseph-Ogden High School, where he has been for 11 years. At St. Joseph-Ogden Leonard has coached a team that won nine Regionals, four Sectionals, two Super-Sectionals and one State title in 2006.

“The game of softball has given me many opportunities to interact with some of the best people in this country, whether they are players, coaches, fans, or my fellow umpires” said Leonard, “Because of softball I have many friends and acquaintances across this great country!”