HEADLINE: Wujcik is Hall of a guy
SUBHEAD: Richards coach honored by IBCA
By Ken Karrson
When congratulated recently for his induction into the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Brian Wujcik jokingly credited his lengthy stay at Richards as the main reason he received the honor.
“Stick around long enough and someone somewhere thinks you need an award for it,” he said.
On a more serious note the Bulldogs leader greatly appreciated the gesture as he became just the 11th local coach to be chosen by the IBCA for its Hall of Fame.
“I always pictured Hall of Famers as guys who’ve had tremendous postseason success,” Wujcik said. “With only two regional championships in 22 years, I hardly qualify in that category, so it is a special honor for me to be recognized by my peers for the way the Richards baseball program is run and not the number of state championships we’ve won.
“We try to do things right here: right by our players, right by our opponents and [the] umpires, and right by the school that we represent. I think we’re very successful in that regard.”
There’s little to argue on those points, particularly when it comes to the student-athletes who have played for Wujcik. More than 80 have gone on to play collegiate baseball, including 15 that are currently active. Nine players achieved all-state status while at Richards, 67 were all-area selections and 110 gained all-conference status.
Program-wise the Bulldogs have captured 10 conference championships and compiled a 448-319 record during Wujcik’s tenure.
“We don’t get the most talented ballplayers at Richards,” he said. “We’ve only had five [NCAA] Division I baseball scholarships in 22 years, but we work hard to give each kid who has the tools, desire, work ethic and grades an opportunity to play at the next level -- wherever they fit in.
“I’m proud that we currently have 15 former Bulldogs on collegiate rosters [in 2015]. They’ve earned that through hard work and dedication.”
Wujcik also said none of this was accomplished solely because of his coaching influence.
“This award belongs just as much to the guys who’ve coached with me as it does to me,” he said. “I have a tremendous staff.
“Bob Peck, Chuck McCullough and Kyle Rathbun at the lower levels not only teach our guys the proper fundamentals, but more importantly they teach ballplayers how to work hard and to compete. Jeff Kortz and Kevin Quinn are hardly my ‘assistants’ on the varsity level -- they are my partners. Both are tirelessly dedicated to the kids who come through our program, and Richards baseball is successful because of them.”
Over the years Wujcik has done more than just lead practices and coach in games. He also spearheaded the building of Richards’ baseball complex, widely regarded as one of the Chicagoland area’s finest at the high school level. Wujcik, players and parents volunteered their time to the project and all the construction materials were donated.
Wujcik, a Richards graduate, was a standout at the University of Iowa. He still holds the Big Ten record for most RBI in one game (10) and previously held the mark for most doubles in a season with 12. He also won a conference batting championship.
In 1990 he was named the Hawkeyes’ MVP while earning All-Big Ten and all-region first-team honors. He was a two-time member of the Big Ten’s All-Academic team and received GTE Academic All-America second-team recognition.
The most recent IBCA inductee prior to Wujcik was former cross-town rival Skip Sullivan, who was chosen in 2008 following a 14-year head-coaching career at Oak Lawn. Like Wujcik, Sullivan coached at his alma mater.
Other local members of the IBCA Hall of Fame include Oak Lawn’s Skip Borkowski (1994), Sandburg’s Doug Sutor (2005) and Ron Mellen (1984), St. Xavier University’s Mike Dooley (2005) and Tony D’Anza (2002), Brother Rice’s George Sedlacek (1979), Evergreen Park’s Maynard Stelzer (1983) and Marist’s Don Kuehner (1980) and Joel Jonas (1983). Jonas was selected following a coaching stint at Curie.