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Tigers found a group in a class by themselves
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/29/20 11:21 PM

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Bob Zeman has done a lot of stuff.

As a Denver Broncos safety he played in the 1962 American Football League Pro Bowl.

He was Wisconsin's co-captain in 1959 and played in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

The 1977 Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders? Zeman was its defensive backs coach, one of several NFL coaching spots.

Zeman's proudest moment?

Accepting this Saturday's induction into the Wheaton Warrenville South Athletic Hall of Fame.

"Without a doubt," he said.

"You can take all the other honors and stuff, but this would be No. 1," said Zeman, 73, who now lives with his wife, Kathy, in Big Bear Lake, Calif., to be closer to their four children and seven grandchildren.

"I grew up in that town, my sister (Grace McAssey) lives there, my grandfather lived there, my mother went to high school there. It was just a great place to grow up and be from, a great school system, great athletic programs."

WW South, Wheaton Central, Wheaton Warrenville and Wheaton Community high schools are the focus of the Hall of Fame, which will induct its second class at 2 p.m. Saturday in the WW South auditorium. Doors open at 1 p.m. for the free event, which will culminate in a reception at Arrowhead Golf Club following the official ceremony. The Class of 2010 also will be introduced before the coin flip of Friday's DuPage Valley Conference football game at WW South against Wheaton North.

Six athletes earned selection: Zeman (Wheaton Community Class of 1955), Maura Gill Kelly (Wheaton Warrenville '81), Karen Lackland (Central '81), Keisha Kuharski Cowhey (WW South '94), Kevin Streelman (WW South '97) and Jon Beutjer (WW South '99).

"It's a huge honor," said Cowhey, who went 42-0 in badminton spanning the 1993-94 seasons, winning two state titles, and was on the Gold Medal team at the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival. She was also a three-time state tennis qualifier, second-team all-state in 1993.

Tuesday she was wrangling young children Payton and Cannon in Tallahassee, Fla., where she lives with fellow WW South graduate Adam Cowhey. Saturday she'll be accepting her award, though she didn't believe it when the WW South trainer who nominated her, Matt Marzullo, told her she was in.

"I just played badminton and tennis," she told him. "He said, 'No, this is legit.'"

"I enjoyed every moment of it, it's kind of who I am," said Cowhey, who is training for her second half-ironman triathlon when the kids let her. "I never thought I'd be honored or appreciated in that way because it was part of my life. It's what I love. That's why I still find it hard to believe."

Increasing the wow factor is Streelman, of the PGA Tour.

Turning professional in 2001, the same year he graduated as Duke's team captain and MVP, Streelman spent much of the next six years scrambling on seven different lower-level circuits before earning his Tour card in 2007. On the road he slept in his car when he didn't have the money for a cheap hotel.

Streelman is now working on his fourth million. His take on the tour in 2010 is a career-high $1,389,849, which reflects five top-10 finishes and two third-place ties, including one of his favorite events, The Barclays. Streelman ranks 56th on the PGA money list, 25th in FedEx Cup standings ahead of golfers like Stewart Cink, Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods.

Karen Lackland was a pioneering female athlete at Wheaton Central. In 1981 she was the Tigers' first female state champion, winning the 400-meter dash in a time of 55.1 seconds. That remains the Tigers record and ranks 25th all-time in Illinois.

Upon graduation Lackland held five school records either individually or on a relay and continued at Eastern Illinois to help set the 1,600 relay record there.

At the same time Lackland was running on cinders, further south Maura Gill Kelly was earning four consecutive all-DuPage Valley Conference honors in basketball at Wheaton Warrenville. She scored 2,199 points before the 3-point basket arrived in high school gyms, and her senior year average of 23.4 points a game helped earn a scholarship to Georgetown.

Once there, Gill became a four-year starter who as a senior was the Hoyas' MVP and a unanimous all-Big East Conference pick. She'll be unable to attend Saturday's induction but will, appropriately, be honored during basketball season.

Also missing Saturday's induction will be Jon Beutjer. The state (and, briefly, national) record-holder with 60 touchdown passes for Wheaton Warrenville South's Class 6A champions of 1998 throwing a record 26 of them to 2009 inductee John Schweighardt Beutjer will be coaching for Lyons Twp. on Saturday against York. The former Iowa and Illinois quarterback will be inducted before Friday's WW South-Wheaton North game, presented by former Tigers coach and 2009 inductee John Thorne.

"I will be inducted on Red Grange Field, which is an awesome thing, I'm excited about it," said Beutjer, who in addition to coaching quarterbacks at Lyons also operates Jon Beutjer's Quarterback Training and Instruction.

"The hardest thing for me," he said, "is football is such a team sport. To be recognized it's hard because there's 11 guys on the field, 11 guys on defense, 11 guys on special teams that enabled us to make history, to go 14-0 and win the state championship.

"I'm very humbled and honored and thankful to be mentioned among all these other great athletes."

The Beutjer name goes back generations in Wheaton. In fact Jon's grandfather, Harold, told him Bob Zeman was one of the best players he'd ever seen.

"We had good teams and good coaches," Zeman said.

He mentioned Bob Horsley and Don Garner. They, among others, would be fitting nominees for the Class of 2011. Nominating forms will be available at Saturday's induction ceremony or through the athletics tab on the Wheaton Warrenville South website, wwshs.org.