Jan. 21, 2020
GENEVA, IL — Three powerhouse inductees will join the ranks of the Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame next month. They include championship-building Athletic Director Jim Kafer, Class of 1976 football stalwart Tim Sandman and Division 1 All-American volleyball star Lauren Wicinski.
All will be honored during the 20th annual Geneva Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 22, 2020, at Geneva High School’s main contest gymnasium, during halftime of the Geneva-versus-Streamwood boys varsity game. The varsity game starts at 6 p.m. at Mack Olson Gymnasium.
After the game, all ticket holders are invited to meet the hall-of-fame inductees during a coffee-and-cake reception in their honor in the north balcony of Geneva High’s contest gymnasium.
Here are some details on this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, chosen by a committee of former Geneva sports journalists, Viking athletic alumni and coaches:
Jim Kafer is the founder of the Geneva High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
That achievement alone is worthy of recognition, but it is just one of many during Kafer’s 17 years as Geneva Community High School’s athletic director.
In short, Kafer was a game-changer.
Prior to his taking over as athletic director in 1999, Geneva High School had won no team state titles in any sport in 124 years. During Kafer’s tenure, from 1999 to 2016, Geneva Viking teams won 106 conference titles in 20 sports, 66 regional-tournament titles in 12 sports and 34 sectional championships in 12 sports.
Geneva teams made 12 Illinois state “Elite Eight” appearances, eight Final Four appearances, recorded three state runner-up finishes and won five state championships.
Kafer’s skills were many, but one of the secrets to his success was simply providing young athletes with the coaching and tools they needed to excel. During his time as AD, Geneva voters, the School Board and community donors supported the construction of a new gymnasium, indoor track, weight room, gymnastics facility, wrestling room, and a varsity softball field, with improvements to the varsity baseball and lower-level fields.
Burgess Field was upgraded with new concession stands, a press box, scoreboard, lights, additional bleachers, field turf and the expansion of the track from six to eight lanes.
Growing up in Iowa, Kafer was himself an athlete, as a sprinter and running back for City High School in Iowa City. He also ran track and was a running back at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, where he holds the single-season rushing record and was MVP in the Boot Hill Bowl.
His work experience includes teaching social studies and coaching football, track and baseball at Iowa City West and City School, head football coach, baseball and track coach at Carroll High School in Iowa and assistant football coach at Illinois Benedictine College. Before coming to Geneva, he served as athletic director, teacher and coach at St. Edward High School, then as Antioch Community High School assistant principal for athletics and history.
Along with the accolades for sports teams’ successes and facilities improvements, Kafer’s accomplishments include the expansion of athletic programs and opportunities for youth. Kafer and his staff introduced five new sports at GHS, as well as the addition of freshman, sophomore and junior varsity teams in at least 20 sports.
Outside of the AD’s office, he helped form youth summer athletic camps that now serve more than 1,000 Geneva youths.
Kafer continues as an assistant coach to the Geneva football team and enjoys traveling with his wife, Joyce, who retired from Kraft Foods.
His son, Jay, played football and basketball at Geneva High School, graduated from Dayton and now works in the athletic office at Wake Forest. His daughter, Mary, was on three state championship dance teams at GHS and now captains the Michigan State Dance Team.
Tim Sandman was arguably the most important cog in the Viking team that Coach Jerry Auchstetter guided to the state football championship game in November 1975.
In fact, Sandman almost never came off the field that whole memorable season, leading the team in scoring and playing nearly every down at fullback on offense and at nose guard on defense.
In the 12-0 semifinal win over Geneseo that earned Geneva its trip to its first-ever title game in any sport, Sandman carried the ball 36 times for 145 yards while piling up 11 tackle points on defense.
Though the Vikings fell short in the championship game at Illinois State, Sandman was swamped with postseason honors — chosen team MVP by his teammates, named to the all-Chicago Area teams by the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times and Daily News, and earning a spot on the Daily News’ All-State team.
In addition to football, Sandman was starting center for Viking basketball coach Bob Schick.
U.S. Senator Chuck Percy nominated Sandman to a slot at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he played football his freshman season of 1976 before transferring to Cornell College in Iowa, where he was a multi-sport star and a cum laude graduate in 1981.
Sandman married Sarah Johnson of Geneva that summer and took a job teaching and coaching in the Campbell County Schools in Gillette, WY. He spent 31 years there — teaching in the primary grades for more than a decade, while coaching sixth-graders in soccer, basketball and track. His last 20 years were spent teaching elementary physical education, and continuing to coach middle-school track.
Over the years, he coached several future Olympians, major-college basketball players and wrestlers, as well as future college coaches.
Our inductee retired from teaching and coaching in 2012. He presently lives in Dubuque, IA.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Lauren Wicinski is one of the best volleyball players in Geneva High School history — and one of the Vikings’ greatest athletes of all time.
Wicinski was an all conference basketball player her last three years at GHS and a third-team all-state basketball selection her senior year, class of 2010.
But Wicinski was an even better volleyball player. She was All-Conference and All-Area every year after her freshman year, and Conference MVP, All-State and second-team All-American as a senior.
As a junior, she broke the school record for kills in a season with 382.
When she graduated, she left Geneva High as the then-all-time kills leader with 1,143.
She went on to Northern Illinois University for her freshman and sophomore years of college. There, she finished sixth in the nation in kills as a freshman — and reached 1,000 career kills as a sophomore in 2011, the fastest to reach that milestone in the history of Mid-American Conference volleyball. She made first-team All-America as a sophomore, and was on the MAC All-Academic team.
Wicinski transferred to Michigan State in the Big Ten for her junior and senior years. There, she reached more than 2,400 kills by the end of her collegiate career — and presently ranks 13th all-time nationwide among Division I players in the NCAA record book.
She was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection and made first-team All-America again, both her junior and senior years.
After graduating from Michigan State, Wicinski played one season of professional volleyball in Puerto Rico.
She is now a seventh-grade language arts teacher in Conroe, TX, where she coaches both volleyball and basketball.
About the GHS Athletics Hall of Fame
The Geneva Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, chaired by Athletic Director Dave Carli, consists of former Geneva Community High School Athletic Director Jim Kafer, who founded the Hall of Fame 20 years ago; Jerry Auchstetter, retired Geneva High head football coach who compiled an .801 record over 21 seasons from the 1960s into the 1990s; Rick Nagel, Class of 1975, outreach coordinator for Kane County, IL, who covered Viking sports from 1985 to 2014; Dr. Peter Temple, Class of 1981, a clinical psychologist in local private practice who led the Viking football team to 17 victories over nearly three seasons as its starting quarterback; and Kurt Wehrmeister, Class of 1975, who began his professional career covering Viking athletics for six years as the sports editor of The Geneva Republican, and who served for more than 30 years as the Vikings’ varsity football and basketball public-address announcer.
Auchstetter, Temple, Wehrmeister, and Kafer are Viking Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.
To submit an application for consideration of a Geneva athlete, coach or team into the hall of fame, please contact Athletic Director Dave Carli at 630-463-3812 or [email protected]