Moraine Valley Community College’s intercollegiate sports program began in 1976. Forty-two years later, influential athletes, coaches and supporters have been inducted into the inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame for their contributions to the college.
The Hall of Fame is displayed on a touchscreen monitor across from the gym in the Health, Fitness & Recreation Center (Building H). The inaugural inductees were Douglas C. Gehrke, Kay Schneegas, Rosie Geraci, LaVetta Mitchell, and Ephraim Eaddy, who all attended the Feb. 15 ceremony with their friends and family.
Gehrke started at Moraine Valley as an economics instructor in 1972. He was named the first athletic director, supervising the men’s sports, and was the first men’s basketball coach. His team played its first game that same year with players he found shooting hoops in the gym. He catapulted the program on its eventual successful track while bolstering and emphasizing the importance of college athletics, as well as academics, and highlighting the talent on the Southside of Chicago.
Schneegas was a physical education instructor at the college starting in 1970, where she taught swimming, archery, cross country skiing, and golf. When the athletics program started in 1976, Schneegas became the women’s athletic coordinator. She supervised and coached women’s sports, which included softball, volleyball and basketball. The women’s teams had few resources, so Schneegas conducted fundraisers for team needs and called other colleges and universities so her players had legitimate competition. She was passionate about Title IX and worked tirelessly to make sporting opportunities available to all students.
Geraci was a standout player and head coach at Moraine Valley. She played softball and volleyball from 1982 to 1984. She was named to the All-NJCAA Region IV first team and All-Conference team and was MVP for volleyball. In softball, she was MVP and named an All-Conference first team player. She received the Female Athlete of the Year Award as well as the Douglas C. Gehrke Award for her service and dedication to athletics. From 1994 to 2000, Geraci was head coach of Moraine Valley softball, leading the team to four conference championships including one undefeated season. Each of those years, she was named Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year and led her team to the region final four.
Mitchell was on the women’s basketball team that won two straight conference championships, earned the team’s first NJCAA Region IV championships in 1988 and 1989, and competed at the national tournament both seasons. She earned a number of honors including an All-American honorable mention. When she left Moraine Valley, she held a career record as top scorer (1,051 points) that was broken after the 2016-17 women’s basketball season. She also held the rebound record (379) and record for most blocked shots in a single game (9). She still holds the Cyclone record for most career steals (271), is tied for most steals in a season (137) and is No. 3 for top career rebounder (712). In the early 2000s, she returned as assistant coach for the women’s team.
Eaddy played on the men’s basketball team from 1996 to 1998. He led his team to a conference championship in 1996 and to the NJCAA Region IV championship game. He earned NJCAA Division II All-American honorable mention and nods to the All-Conference, All-NJCAA Region IV first-team and All-Tournament team and was Skyway Conference Player of the Year. He was a two-time Moraine Valley MVP who left as the college’s all-time assist leader with 578 assists and No. 3 career scorer (1,074) to go with single game records for assists (18) and steals (12). He returned to Moraine Valley in the early 2000s as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team.
“Having an Athletics Hall of Fame really completes the circle of us starting athletics 40 years ago. Our accomplishments are impressive over that span with amazing athletes, coaches and teams representing Moraine Valley in the state and national spotlights,” said Bill Finn, athletic director. “The Hall of Fame will allow us to remember the past successes each year by honoring exceptional people who have put our college athletics program on the map.”