Naperville Central High School inducted Nicky Lopez of the Chicago White Sox as one of five members to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, January 26th. The 2024 Hall of Fame Class includes four former Redhawk athletes and one legendary coach.
Nicky Lopez joins the list of Redhawk legends
Nicky Lopez is the most recent graduate to join the Naperville Central Athletics Hall of Fame. One of the best baseball players that Naperville has ever produced, Lopez was a two time All DVC selection and helped the Redhawks win the sectional championship in 2012. He was also a two year varsity member of the basketball team at Central before going on to star on the diamond at Creighton University. He was then selected in the 5th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals.
After making his big league debut in 2019, Lopez spent his first five seasons in the MLB with the Royals before being traded to the Atlanta Braves in August of 2023. Following the season, Lopez was traded by the Braves to his hometown Chicago White Sox. It’s been a whirlwind year for the former Redhawk star, but he was excited to return to his old stomping ground for this prestigious honor.
“It’s pretty special,” said Naperville Central Hall of Famer, Nicky Lopez. ” You go back and think about how much Naperville Central has meant to you. It’s a step of your journey that you are on. To get the call saying we want to induct you into the Hall of Fame was something truly special. There is a lot of work that went into what I did on the athletic side of things, but for them to acknowledge what we did off the field as well, it was just special.”
Considered one of the best defensive talents in all of baseball, Lopez is excited for a fresh start so close to his hometown.
“I’m super excited to be playing for my hometown team. I grew up going to White Sox games. I went to game two of the 2005 World Series. So it’s kinda surreal to be playing for a hometown team like the White Sox. I’m super stoked and I’m just ready to get going,” said Lopez.
Five names inducted into the Naperville Central Hall of Fame
Erica Carter was a standout on the hardwood for the Redhawks, serving as a key member of the 2003 and 2004 state championship teams. In addition to being inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame, Carter was also in town to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of those championship teams.
“I got a phone call from Coach Nussbaum, and I haven’t talked to him and I don’t know how many years. So it was, oh Coach Nussbaum is calling, this hopefully is a good thing! And he reached out. Let me know that I had made it to the Hall of Fame and all I felt was honor,” said Carter. “I know there’s so many student athletes throughout Naperville Central’s existence and to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, it just felt like extremely honored to be a part of this this yeah, this event.”
Carter started as a freshman on the undefeated 2003 championship squad and became one of the top players in Illinois during her four years with the Redhawks. The three time All-State selection helped lead the Redhawks to conference titles as a junior and senior after the graduation of the legendary Candace Parker. After graduating in 2006, Carter went on to play collegiately at Binghamton University.
Rodney Landorf, a 1962 graduate of Naperville Community High School, was a standout football player and wrestler during his time with the red and white. On the wrestling mat, he finished as the state runner up at 154 pounds as a senior. His children and grandchildren have carried on the family legacy of athletics at both Naperville North and Naperville Central.
Lois Madsen played a wide range of sports at Naperville Central including softball, badminton, track and field and volleyball. She went on to a successful coaching career, coaching girls and boys volleyball as well as girls soccer at Bolingbrook, Wheaton Central and Downers Grove North High School.
Bill Young, who was a dean and the longtime wrestling coach at Naperville Central was honored posthumously after passing away in 2014. Coach Young was very involved in Naperville, serving as a Naperville Park District Commissioner, the Chief of the Naperville Park Police and acting Executive Director of the Park District. Dan Young, Bill’s son, was present to accept the honor for his late father.
It was a memorable night for all involved as Naperville Central added to its impressive list of Athletics Hall of Famers.
If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!