Beside most successful figures stand a trusted sidekick.
Batman had Robin. Sherlock Holmes had Watson. The Lone Ranger had Tonto.
Harvard wrestling coach Tim Haak had Neil Schultz, and together, for 22 years, they had a wildly successful run with the Hornets. Haak is still there, but Schultz stepped down as assistant coach in 2005.
Haak misses Schultz being around every day, but found another way to say “thank you” to his longtime friend. Schultz is heading into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame in April. Haak nominated Schultz and recently found out Schultz would be going in as an assistant coach; Haak already is in himself.
“I was surprised at the least, and very thrilled,” Schultz said. “It’s nice to be recognized by your peers. It’s hard to believe it’s happened. It’s a very nice honor.”
Haak said Schultz’s longevity, along with Harvard’s winning tradition, made him a great candidate to get into the Hall as an assistant.
“You don’t have a head coach stay 20 years anymore, let alone an assistant,” said Haak, who also had Schultz with him for football over most of the same time frame. “Assistant coaches are invaluable. Neil is loyal and dedicated to the program. He’s a tremendous role model and family man.”
Haak said they used to call Schultz the “Fight Doctor” for his knack of patching up injured wrestlers in years when there was not always a trainer at matches.
“A lot of our success was due to Neil Schultz,” Haak said. “He’s such a tremendous person.”
Schultz, a 1975 Harvard graduate, taught at Harvard’s Jefferson Middle School when he started with Haak. Later, Schultz joined his father’s business, Acro Magnetics, which he now runs himself. Schultz used to work a lot on Harvard wrestling statistics and figures on the team’s website. He still works the four wrestling tournaments the Hornets host each year, helping record results.
Schultz said he felt he and Haak made a fine team together.
“We complement each other very well,” Schultz said. “Wrestling is not a complicated sport, but there are a lot of things to take care of off the mat.”
Schultz had three sons go through Harvard’s program – David, Tyler and Adam.
Nice addition: Cary-Grove got off to a quick start for the boys basketball season going 3-1 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament during Thanksgiving Week, then received a boost when 6-foot-1 sophomore Jason Gregoire returned.
Gregoire was quarterback on the Trojans’ sophomore team most of the season before filling in for injured senior Quinn Baker for three games after Baker suffered a broken finger on his left hand. Gregoire’s football season was extended when C-G made it to the Class 6A state championship game.
With only 21⁄2 practices, Gregoire joined the Trojans’ varsity basketball team Thursday and scored 17 points to lead them past Grayslake North, 53-37.
“He practiced a half day on Monday because he had to turn in his football equipment and then he had Tuesday and Wednesday practices,” C-G coach Ralph Schuetzle said. “Once he got there (to practice), it was like everything just elevated. Then, at the beginning of the game, he got two offensive rebounds and just like, OK, you knew he was on the court. His shot is going to get better as it comes, but he’s just a real aggressive player and very skilled as well. He was probably our leading scorer this summer and we knew he would be in the fold.”
Bears’ invitees: Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler and Dundee-Crown football coach Vito Andriola will be guests of the Bears at their noon home game today against Seattle.
Streveler, who led the Hurricanes to an 11-1 record and the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division title, was named as a Bears High School Player of the Week this season and will be honored at halftime.
Andriola received the Bears High School Coach of the Week honor after D-C got off to a 3-1 start and also will be at the game. The honorees are introduce and walk onto the Soldier Field turf to receive plaques for their awards. Andriola also got to attend a chalk talk this week with Bears coach Lovie Smith.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.