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Induction day arrives for Class of 2014

Door swings open to Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame

Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 10:42 p.m. CST
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Ken Parker with two Joliet Junior College student-athlete award winners.
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Ken Parker.
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Terry Gannon
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Matt Senffner
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Brent Wadsworth

The Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame will induct the Class of 2014 in a private ceremony Tuesday in the Hall of Fame room at Silver Cross Field.

Then at 6:30 p.m., before the start of the Joliet Slammers vs. Normal CornBelters game, the new Hall of Famers will be presented in an on-field ceremony open to fans who are in attendance, taking advantage of the Slammers' 2-dollar Tuesday.

The Hall of Fame class includes Ed Brady, Terry Gannon, the late Ken Parker, Matt Senffner and Brent Wadsworth. Details of their accomplishments follow.

<subhead> ED BRADY <subhead>

A three-year varsity letterwinner in football at Morris, Brady capped his high school career by earning all-state as a linebacker and leading the program to the first of what has become 10 state championship game appearances.

One year later, the Redskins captured their first of three state crowns.  By that time, Brady earned his first of four letters at Illinois with a Liberty Bowl appearance to follow in 1982. One year later, he was a starting linebacker for the last Illinois team to win a Big Ten title outright and the only Illini squad ever to go 9-0 in league play en route to an appearance in the Rose Bowl.

The following spring (1984), Brady was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the eighth round.  He was on the sideline opposite the eventual Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team playing in the NFC title game at Soldier Field. Brady got his shot at a Super Bowl title in 1989 during a six-year career (1986-91) with the Cincinnati Bengals, who dropped a 20-16 decision to the San Francisco 49ers. He closed out his 12-year NFL career serving as a long snapper with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1992-95.

<subhead> TERRY GANNON <subhead>

Where there have been championships, Gannon has been in the thick of things whether as a player or broadcaster.  His most famous came as a member of the improbable 1983 North Carolina State national championship basketball team, a coach Jim Valvano-led team which ended the regular season 17-10.

Gannon established the school’s three-point shooting percentage record (.589) and was the nation’s best marksman from beyond the arc that season and finished his career as the program’s top free throw shooter (.854).  To close out his career, the senior captain and two-time Academic All-America selection led the 1984-85 Wolfpack to an ACC title.

Gannon and his nearly 25-point average helped Joliet Catholic to its first-ever back-to-back regional championships (1979-80 and 1980-81).

Gannon’s broadcasting career started in 1987 on the regional level as a college basketball analyst for Raycom Sports before he ventured into college and professional baseball. ABC Sports came calling in 1991 and since then he has covered college football and basketball, the NBA and WNBA, the British and U.S. Open and figure skating. Gannon has also worked the FIFA World Cup and Women’s World Cup, Little League World Series, the Tour de France, Indianapolis 500, Belmont Stakes and WTA Tennis. A current member of The Golf Channel team, Gannon has also covered the Olympics for NBC Sports, including the 2014 Winter Games.                         

<subhead> KEN PARKER <subhead>

A gift from Granite City, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball at the high school level, Parker was the consummate professional, leader and gentleman during his 28-year run in the athletic arena between stops at Joliet Township High School and Joliet Junior College.

An all-state basketball player at Granite City his senior year, Parker went on to play at the University of Illinois, where he was the sixth man on the legendary “Whiz Kids” team (1942-43) that won the Big Ten Championship for the second straight year and went 17-1 overall, but did not compete in the NCAA Tournament despite being ranked No. 1 in the nation because of the war.

A lieutenant himself in the Navy during World War II, who was part of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France, Parker made brief coaching and teaching stops at Cornell and Forrest before arriving in Joliet in 1949. One year later, he began a 12-year run as the Steelmen head basketball coach capped by the 1961-62 regional championship team that went 22-6.

Parker then performed the rarest of feats, serving as the dual athletic director at both the high school and junior college from 1964-68.  From 1969 through 1977, he focused solely on the duties at JJC, where he also implemented the physical education major. Cited at the inaugural Joliet Township Night of Champions in 2005, Parker is a member of the Joliet Junior College and Granite City High School Halls of Fame.  

<subhead> MATT SENFFNER <subhead>

Little did Senffner realize what he was about to create when he started the Providence Catholic football program from scratch in 1966. Over the next 40 years, the only head coach the Celtic program had ever known crafted one of the premier programs in Illinois. No program has ever made as many consecutive state title game appearances (five, 1994-98) as Providence and only two – Joliet Catholic (Senffner’s alma mater) and Mount Carmel – have won more state championships.

Senffner's teams captured nine state crowns in 11 title-game appearances and earned 26 state playoff bids over his 38-year career.  The Celtics went 300-114-1 (.724 winning percentage) under his guidance, including a 50-game win streak. Senffner’s teams were also ranked nationally seven times.

The fifth all-time winningest football coach in the state, Senffner also oversaw the entire athletic program for 27 of his 40 years at the school with 15 other state championships being won under his leadership. He has been honored with five Midwest Coach of the Year honors, two Man of the Year distinctions and one Citizen of the Year selection. This also marks his sixth induction into a hall of fame.

<subhead> BRENT WADSWORTH <subhead>

Wadsworth’s mark of distinction is everywhere, from the better than 850 courses that the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company has built or redesigned since 1958 to the numerous organizations that have benefitted from his Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation established in 1997.

A U.S. Air Force serviceman (1952-54), Wadsworth settled in Plainfield to begin his career with his company eventually expanding to four offices nationwide. Courses with a Wadsworth touch can be found in 44 states with many annually ranking among the best in the nation. In 2005 alone, 28 Wadsworth courses were included in America’s 100 Best Residential Golf Courses by Golfweek Magazine, including five in the Top 10. That same year, two of his courses earned Best New Upscale Course and Best New Private Course from Golf Digest.

Among the most prestigious courses Wadsworth has worked on are Augusta National Golf Club and three Tournament Players Courses. Locally, he has helped build Wedgewood, Heritage Bluffs and Prairie Bluff and redesign Cog Hill’s Dubsdread course. Joining the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Wadsworth was bestowed with the prestigious Donald Ross (1993) and Don Rossi awards (2000) after gaining induction into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame (1991).  He has also earned the University of Illinois Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award and the Joliet Township High School Distinguished Alumni Award.

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