End of an Era. Coaches Who Impacted Lives

End of an Era. Coaches Who Impacted Lives

It has been said that a coach affects more lives in a single season than the average person does in a lifetime. While that certainly could be open for debate, there is little doubt that long-time coaches Denny Short, Ray Lumpp, Bill Prince and Don Jungels Sr. impacted many people throughout the Aurora area the last five decades. All four of these local 'legendary' coaches passed away over the last year, each leaving a lasting legacy that won't likely be duplicated any time soon. They were successful on and off the field and court, while helping others develop and pursue their goals. But more importantly were good people who taught their players many of the same quality values they displayed. And each one had ties to the Waubonsee Community College Chiefs in one way or another.

Short, who passed away from liver cancer at the age of 69 in August of 2018, was an assistant high school baseball coach in the area for 43 years. The native of Midland, Michigan was an infielder for three years at Michigan State University, graduating in 1971. Often called 'Shorty' by his contemporaries, he began teaching and coaching at East Aurora in 1976 where his Tomcat teams won a pair of conference titles. Short then began coaching at Aurora Central Catholic, and over eight seasons the Chargers won the 1982 state championship, finished second in 1983 and made an additional elite eight appearance. The infield coach then took his trusty fungo bat to Waubonsie Valley where he spent the next 20 years helping the Warriors, who finished second in the state in 1996 and had an elite eight finish in 2005. In between Short helped with numerous baseball clinics and assisted former Chiefs' head coach Dave Randall with Waubonsee's Fall Baseball League for over 25 years. He operated the clock for basketball games at East Aurora for 40 years and retired as the school's business and accounting teacher after 36 years. In the midst of all of that, he volunteered at Aurora University from 1992 through 2014 helping the Spartans win a dozen conference titles and earn 16 NCAA Tournament bids. Appropriately the career assistant coach was inducted into the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014. He then roamed the dugout at Neuqua Valley until his diagnosis in May of 2018. Throughout it all Short displayed a sharp wit, sarcastic sense of humor and a somewhat comical disdain for pitchers. He was also a perfectionist, sometimes stubborn and demanding of his players. However, he was also humble and shied away from recognition, characteristics that endeared him to players and coaches alike. His hitting catch phrases like 'top-hand strong,' or 'eyes on the barrel,' and 'load, step, explode' are no doubt seared into the brains of hundreds of his former players. A baseball lifer, fittingly one of Coach Short's last requests was to be cremated with his fungo bat and his No. 4 Neuqua Valley jersey, thus intermingled forever.

A former Chiefs' basketball coach and administrator, Lumpp passed away on May 14 of this year at the age 89. He was one of the founding members of Waubonsee's Athletic Department and essentially helped put the college on the map. After three coaching stints at the prep level, he arrived at Waubonsee in 1968 as the college's first men's basketball coach. The tall, wiry framed Lumpp directed the program for 11 seasons, guiding the Chiefs to four conference titles in the 1970's and five second-place finishes, while winning 75 percent of their conference games. His 1977 team earned a trip to the Region IV Finals, at a time when all 45 Illinois community colleges were in one division. Lumpp served as Waubonsee's Athletic Director from 1974 until his retirement in 1986. During that time he also umpired and officiated countless local baseball and basketball games from the junior high to collegiate levels. In 1999 Lumpp was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and was part of Waubonsee's inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame class in 2007. His calm demeanor and straight forward approach earned the respect of his players and opponents, and was key to his coaching success during a somewhat turbulent time during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. As a mater of fact, during the 1970-71 season a few of his players shipped off to Vietnam mid-season, while a few others joined the squad midway through the year after they returned from the battlefield. Despite his ever evolving and fractured roster, Lumpp led his troops to the school's first ever Skyway Conference title that season.   

Well liked, admired and respected, the affable Prince passed away six weeks after Lumpp on July 4 at the age of 83 a month after suffering a stroke. Born in Joplin, Missouri and raised in the southern Illinois town of Cisne, he was Waubonsee's first athletic director, baseball coach, physical education instructor and Physical Education Department Chairman, simultaneously holding all those positions beginning in 1967. He even coached the Chiefs' cross country teams for two years and guided the golf program for six seasons, winning a pair of conference titles on the links. Prince's baseball teams won a conference crown, and a pair of sectional titles in the mid-1970's. In addition, he served as Aurora University's head baseball coach in 1978, leading the Spartans to a conference title in his lone year with the program. He remained a physical education instructor at Waubonsee until retiring in 1993, and was subsequently inducted into the Skyway Conference (2003), Waubonsee (2007) and NJCAA Region IV (2013) Hall of Fames. During the summer months, Prince taught golf to thousands of students from 1975 to 2000 at Valley Green Golf Course in North Aurora, and remained an avid golfer his entire life. In late April of this year he returned to Waubonsee to address the current baseball team and a few former players at the first Chiefs' Baseball Alumni Day, sharing stories and words of wisdom with those in attendance. A week before he fell ill Prince checked a big item off his bucket list, playing a round at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course in California with his son Robert. Poetically, he ended that round on top by sinking a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole, walking off a golf course for the final time amid high-fives with a beaming smile.

Jungels died later in the summer on July 26 due to respiratory complications at the age of 80. A graduate of Marmion Academy and a U.S. Army Veteran, he coached and sponsored teams in the Aurora Boys Baseball (ABB) Little League and the Aurora Legion League for over 50 years. Over the years several of his players went on to play at Waubonsee, including his son Donnie Jr. who was a Chief in the late 1980's. As a coach his teams made it to the ABB league championship four times, winning a title in 2010. He also was an assistant coach in the Legion League the last few years helping the Tiger Club team earn a title in 2016. Jungels served as an ABB board member for several years and was inducted into the ABB Hall of Fame in 2009. He worked as an electrician for 40 years and was a member of IBEW Local 461. For much of that time he ran his own business, Jungels Electric, sponsoring a team by that name in both the ABB minor (8-10 year olds) and major (11-12 year olds) leagues. While he coached the major league crew his son Donnie Jr. ran the minor league squad, leading them to a pair of championships and four runner-up finishes the last 15 years. Jungels also served as Athletic Director and basketball coach at St. Peter School in Aurora for 15 years. He devoted much of his adult life to coaching kids and helping Aurora area youth. The overall theme among many recent Facebook posts regarding his passing was the sentiment of gratitude to Jungels for his 'excellent teaching of the game and always making baseball fun.' The congenial coach would often regale those around him with baseball stories and seemed to have a steel-trap like memory of moments from numerous games over the years. Of his many quips, the one that perhaps was his personal mantra and the one that resonates most profoundly today was the tongue-in-cheek "don't get old, there's no future in it."

For those who knew them personally, the area baseball fields, golf courses and basketball courts feel a little empty today and for the foreseeable future. In their own way, each was a fixture at their respective 'stomping grounds,' and their passing signals the end of an era. An era when coaches didn't come and go like the wind, solely judged by and discarded if their win and loss record didn't measure up. They each helped lead their teams to numerous successes, but ultimately lost to the only undefeated opponent we all face, Father Time. All four of them had varying styles and in some ways vastly different personalities. But they each shared a passion and love for the game, where great teachers, and in turn were beloved by many of their players. They will be truly missed by many grateful former students and athletes throughout the Fox Valley area, who were given great examples of how to not only play the game, but how to excel at the game of life too.

        

                           Denny Short                                                            Ray Lumpp                                                            Bill Prince                                                            Don Jungels