Parkland inducts new members to athletic Hall of Fame
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 21:02
This past Saturday was a memorable one for Parkland College athletics, as they inducted a group of athletes and teams that excelled in their sports into the Hall of Fame.
This was Parkland’s sixth Hall of Fame class and it was a great one. This class featured four outstanding athletes and two teams that accomplished the goal of making it to the National Tournament.
To Athletic Director Rod Lovett, there was no more deserving class than the one inducted.
“We have names recommended to us and we compiled a list of potential people in all of our different sports,” Lovett explained.
“As far as the teams go; teams that have been a National Champion or National runner-up go in and we have a five year waiting period so softball had just hit those points and we did those two teams together due to players overlapping both seasons,” Lovett explained the decision to include both 2005 and 2006 teams.
The 2013 class included Jodi Clark, who was Parkland’s only National Champion for cross country, and Lee LaBadie, who was a very successful cross country and track and field coach at Parkland from 1973 to 1985. His career was highlighted by coaching six National Champions and 84 NJCAA All-Americans, a great feat in any sport.
Other inductees were Brittany Miller, a two-time NJCAA All-American in softball who topped off her career at Parkland by earning first team honors in 2005. She would finish with a record for hits with 198, a batting average of .536 and an on-base percentage of .663.
Holly Wright was also first team All-American in 2005. She led the Cobras with a record of 22 wins and 2 losses and set a school record for strikeouts with 302 in 164 innings pitched. However, her biggest accomplishment had to be leading the Cobras to their record 41-win season and a second place finish at the National Tournament.
As for the teams, the 2005 and 2006 softball teams were ones that no one could leave out of the discussion. Both teams successfully got to the National Tournament and eventually to the National Championship game before falling to powerhouse Phoenix College and earning National runner-up.
All of these inductees were deserving of the honor, but the Hall of Fame committee highlighted one person overall: Jim Thompson. He stood out from the others because of his dedication to Parkland as a player and a coach.
Thompson, who was the first golfer to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, was one of Parkland’s greats. Not only did he play golf at the school, but coached there as well.
Thompson’s playing career was highlighted by being a two-time qualifier for the NJCAA Golf Tournament in 1983 and 1984 and as coach he received Coach of the Year honors during his three year tenure at the school.
Thompson was one who put others in front of him and never liked to be the center of attention, but his success was something that one former teammate will never forget.
“I do recall the year he won the Danville Invitational when he set the meet record. I never will forget he was a couple groups ahead of me. I was getting ready to tee off on one and he just finished coming off of three,” Director of Planned and Major Gifts and former teammate Michael Hagan said.
“He passed me and I said, ‘How you doing?’ and he said, ‘Pretty good’; he had played three holes and was already two under, so that is one moment I will never forget,” Hagan continued.
Sadly, Thompson lost a courageous battle with cancer on December 12, 2012. A Memorial Golf Outing will be held at the University of Illinois Golf Course in Savoy in June with all proceeds going to Parkland Golf.
Thompson was one whose sense of humor and good nature will never be matched. He was one that will live forever in the hearts of family and friends.
The Hall of Fame ceremony which honored Thompson and the other great athletes was itself a success. Dodds Athletic Center was packed on February 16 for this event and was a day that will be remembered by these great men, women and teams that excelled in their sports.
“I thought it was very nice and well organized. I also felt that the staff hosting the event was very sincere in their appreciation of the inductees. Yes, I thought there were a good number of people at the ceremony, especially the Thompson family and friends!” Pam Thomson, wife of the inductee remarked.
“The crowd seemed excited and very supportive of the event. Needless to say, it was a very special day for our family,” she continued.
Spirits were high at the induction ceremony. There was a sense of community and comradery among those attending that continued from the ceremony to the basketball game following. Parkland had their 16th win against John Wood, with a final score of 61-55.