Watson among HOF inductees at WCC

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College inducted five former Chiefs into its Athletic Hall of Fame during the college’s annual Athletic Banquet on May 11.

David Hejtmanek, Donald Lee Watson, Sally (Toma) Kempton, Sharon Metzger and Steve Smerz were chosen to form the fourth class of the Waubonsee Athletic Hall of Fame for their involvement in sports, dedication to Waubonsee, athletic successes, and contributions to the community or career accomplishments earned after leaving Waubonsee. The Hall of Fame was formed in 2007 in conjunction with the school’s 40th anniversary celebration.

“We are proud to recognize the success of our student-athletes, as well as the coaches, administrators and community supporters who helped to foster that success,” Waubonsee Athletic Manager Dave Randall said. “Waubonsee athletics has a rich history in contributing to the total development of our students and to the campus community as a whole.”

David Hejtmanek led Waubonsee’s wrestling program for eight years, beginning in 1987. Under his tutelage, 22 grapplers qualified for Nationals, with eight Chiefs earning All-American status. Waubonsee captured the Skyway Conference wrestling crown in 1990 and went on to place 19th at the NJCAA Finals. In 1993 Hejtmanek’s squad finished 13th in the nation as he was tabbed the NJCAA Region IV Coach of the Year.

Hejtmanek describes his former athlete and fellow inductee Steve Smerz as someone who was “dependable, a great teammate, and someone who represented Waubonsee with the highest degree of character and integrity.” Smerz has displayed those traits wherever he has gone, and consequently, success has followed. While at Waubonsee, the 134-pound Smerz won 60 matches, qualifying for Nationals in both 1990 and 1991. After earning All-American status his sophomore season, he received a wrestling scholarship to Eastern Illinois University, where he was a starter for the Panthers his senior year. Smerz has been the head varsity wrestling coach at St. Charles East High School since 1997, guiding the team to three regional championships during his tenure.

Donald Lee Watson helped lay the foundation of women’s sports at Waubonsee, establishing the volleyball program in 1977 and serving as its head coach for the next 14 years. In more than half of those seasons, his squad finished in the Skyway Conference’s top three. In 1979 Watson helped build the softball program, spending two seasons in the dugout and leading the team to a Skyway Conference title in 1980. Recently, at the age of 50, Watson began playing on an Illinois volleyball team that went on to compete in nine straight Senior Nationals, and played in the USA Volleyball National Championships in Phoenix, Ariz.

Like Coach Watson, Sally (Toma) Kempton specialized in volleyball but dabbled in softball as well. On the volleyball court, she earned All-Skyway honors in both 1985 and 1986, and All-Region IV status as a sophomore. Kempton was the Lady Chiefs’ MVP in 1985, achieving a 95 percent serving efficiency rate and establishing a Waubonsee career record with 465 spikes. In the spring she helped out the softball team by playing first base. Kempton was subsequently named Waubonsee’s Female Athlete of the Year for 1985-1986.

Inductee Sharon Metzger was the first and only two-time NJCAA All-American cross country runner for Waubonsee. As a freshman in 2002, she led the Lady Chiefs to their first-ever Skyway Conference title, earning Runner of the Year honors in the process. Metzger also garnered All-Region status before placing 14th at the National Meet that year. As a sophomore she again achieved All-Skyway and All-Region honors before finishing 12th at the National Meet. The squad she anchored placed third in the nation academically among cross country teams with a cumulative 3.33 grade point average. Metzger made the Dean’s List twice and earned Academic All-Skyway honors as well. Not surprisingly, she was named Waubonsee’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2002-2003. Metzger is currently training for the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

The Waubonsee Athletic Hall of Fame honors former Waubonsee administrators, faculty and staff; athletes; coaches; community supporters; and specific teams who are five years removed from their involvement with Waubonsee athletics.