Congratulations to the 2000 NJCAA championship baseball team and to Dick Dhabalt, former athletic director and sports coach for being inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame Tuesday, April 28.
Richard “Dick” Dhabalt had a successful and storied career in education and athletics. As a founding faculty member at LLCC, he served students with distinction for 25 years until his retirement in 1993. His tenure at the college includes 20 years as athletic director, 20 years as head men’s basketball coach and 25 years as an instructor of physical education and mathematics. In his first year with LLCC, Dick coached all sports including: basketball, baseball, track and tennis. During his time as athletic director, he developed 11 men and women athletic teams. He was selected by the National Junior College Athletic Association to serve as the Region IV assistant director and then director of Region XXIV. In 1991, the NJCAA inducted Dick into the Region XXIV Hall of Fame. He is an athlete Hall of Fame member at LLCC, as well as his alma mater, Bradley University. The Dick Dhabalt Athlete of the Year Award, recognizing a male and female athlete, was established at LLCC in February.
The 2000 baseball team filled with outstanding talent embodied what “team” really means. “Each one of the guys contributed to its success,” then-head coach Claude Kracik recalls. “It goes beyond talent and player caliber, however,” he says. An example of the team and coaches pulling together was during the season of the national championship win. Both Kracik and his wife lost parents during April of 2000. Kracik’s father passed away while the coach was at the winning game of the district tournament, and he was called away to Florida. According to Kracik, “LLCC was very fortunate to have assistant coaches at that time who carried on working with the players while I was away. Even though we were not the top seed in the national tournament that year, the team went on to take four straight games and win the championship displaying how with hard work, dedication, perseverance and true teamwork, they could be the best.” Fourteen of the 23 players went on to play at a four-year school, with five of those advancing to professional play.