New names for Sports Hall of Fame

Seven area athletes, five friends of sport to be inducted Feb. 20

Seven athletes will be inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame next month as part of a 31-year capital city tradition.

"To be considered, you have to have been retired from the sport for at least 10 years and played for one of Springfield's high schools," said Chris Leming, president of the hall of fame.

The athletes will be inducted in a ceremony at the Bank of Springfield Center on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. This year's inductees:

Nathaniel Browning is a 2004 Lutheran High School graduate who won back-to-back Class A state track 400-meter championships in 2003 and 2004 and scored more than 1,000 points in basketball. He earned a track scholarship to the University of Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference, and while there he was a two-time All-American in the 4x400 relay.

Dominique "Major" Clay is a 2007 Lanphier High School graduate who excelled in track and field as well as basketball. He was a two-time state champion in the high jump and set the Illinois high school indoor high jump record at 7-0 ¼. He earned a track scholarship to Indiana State University where he cleared 7-0 in 35 of the 38 indoor meets. Clay ranked in the top 20 in the world when he was at his highest level and competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.

Doug Collins is a 1987 Lanphier graduate who played two varsity seasons for the Lions and scored 986 points. He played at John A. Logan College in 1987-88 and 1988-89 and was freshman of the year in the Great River Athletic Conference. He transferred to Iowa State in the Big Eight Conference where he played for Johnny Orr and scored 224 points as a junior in 1989-90 and 442 points as a senior in 1990-91. He has spent the past 22 seasons as the girls' basketball coach at Lanphier.

Phil Eck is a 1980 Springfield High School graduate who earned All-City honors in soccer as a junior and senior and then attended Quincy College, where he played on NAIA national championship teams in 1980, 1981 and 1982. As a senior he served as the assistant soccer coach at Quincy Notre Dame High School, which finished second in the Illinois High School Association state tournament. He was hired as a teacher and head boys' soccer coach at Springfield High School in 1985, and in 22 seasons his teams compiled a record of 352-131-43, including the 1997 Class A state title.

Jim Files is a 1980 Lanphier graduate who became the first and only boys' runner in Springfield history to win the state championship in cross country, covering the 3-mile course at Peoria's Detweiller Park in 14 minutes 18.3 seconds in 1979. He is still the lone large-school individual boys' champion from Sangamon County since the state meet began in 1946. He served four years in the Army upon graduation from high school.

John Fox is a 1976 Lanphier graduate who earned nine varsity letters – four in basketball, four in baseball and one in golf. During his basketball career he scored more than 1,400 points and was a two-time All-City selection. In baseball he was a pitcher and a catcher and earned a pair of All-City selections. He received a baseball scholarship to Eastern Illinois University and played there for two seasons before transferring to Quincy College, where a knee injury ended his collegiate career.

Tracy Tate Wilson, a Springfield High graduate, is the only high school player in city history to capture two state championships in golf, winning by three strokes in 1980 and defending her crown by one shot in '81. She earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State University and was a member of the Cowgirls in 1985 before transferring to the University of South Florida. She was a PGA teaching professional and director of golf operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Also being inducted into the Hall of Fame are five "Friends of Sport:"

Mike Chamness was the State Journal-Register sports editor from 1986 to 1991 and created The State Journal-Register Baseball Classic in 1990. He was part of the group that established the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. After spending more than 20 years in the newspaper business, he entered state government in 1991, working in the secretary of state and governor's offices. He was chair of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force from 1999 to 2020.

Larry Chaney served as a coach, teacher and administrator in District 186 for 33 years, including 16 seasons as head baseball coach at Southeast High School and eight years as athletic director at Southeast. During that time, he played a major role in the formation of the Central State Eight Conference. He was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2001 he was named a Class AA Outstanding Athletic Director.

Cress Maddox and John Raynolds were both instrumental in bringing girls' soccer to Springfield School District 186 in the late 1980s. They made presentations within the school district numerous times to ask that the sport be offered. Not only did they bring girls soccer to 186, they worked to get Lee Field secured so all of the school district's soccer teams could use it as their home field, raising all of the money for the lights and the construction of the field. Lee Field is used by four of the city's high schools and was used this past season by University of Illinois Springfield men's and women's soccer teams.

Paul Pachlhofer is a 1974 Griffin High School graduate. He began his baseball umpiring career in 1976 and continues to work games today, including numerous regionals, sectionals and supersectionals as well as the state finals in 2021 and 2022. He has been an Illinois High School Association clinician since 2016. He officiated high school basketball from 2008 to 2015 and high school football from 2009 to 2015. He also served as the public address announcer for football games at Memorial Stadium from 1981 to 2005 and as the PA announcer for the City Basketball Tournament from 1984 to 2022. He did sports reporting at WTAX from 1991 to 1996 and at Neuhoff Media-Springfield from 1996 to the present.

Jim Ruppert was a State Journal-Register sports writer from 1976 to 1991 and SJ-R sports editor from 1991 to 2016. He was part of the group that established the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame. He joined the Neuhoff Media broadcast team in 1991 and continues in that role. He has served as master of ceremonies for the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame since 1999.

Scott Reeder, a staff writer for Illinois Times, can be reached at sreeder@illinoisimes.com.

About The Author

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder is a staff writer at Illinois Times.

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