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Weber hardwood polished for more memories

12/07/2012, 6:25pm CST
By George M. Wilcox gwilcox@pioneerlocal.com

Weber High School closed in 1999. But boys basketball coaches John N. Bonk of Nazareth and Tom Kleinschmidt of Gordon Tech will not allow the old barn to be forgotten.

Weber High School closed in 1999.

But boys basketball coaches John N. Bonk of Nazareth and Tom Kleinschmidt of Gordon Tech will not allow the old barn to be forgotten.

When Kleinschmidt returned to his alma mater to coach at Gordon Tech this season, Bonk contacted him to set up a nonconference game. The teams agreed to a two-year, home-and-home contract, but then Kleinschmidt added a twist by asking if their game could be played at Weber.

The result: Nazareth (3-1) plays Gordon Tech (3-1) at Northwest Middle School, 5252 West Palmer, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I grew up in that gym,” said Kleinschmidt, who coached last season at York.

When Jim Harrington left Weber to coach at Elgin, Bonk took over and coached there for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s before leaving to coach at St. Rita, his alma mater.

Gordon, like Weber, was founded by the Congregation of the Resurrection. Weber memorabilia that is on display at Gordon, including several trophies, can be viewed at the game.

The game has a special appeal for Bonk’s son, senior guard John R., who was 2 years old when his father left Weber. John R. is a fan of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played in the old gym before graduating from Weber in 1965.

“It will be cool,” John R. Bonk said. “I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. I’ve seen old videos of my dad (coaching).”

Kleinschmidt was close to enrolling at Weber, but joined some of his friends at Gordon and went on to have an all-state career before playing for DePaul. Kleinschmidt played for late coach Steve Pappas before graduating from Gordon in 1991.

Bonk was an assistant coach at Weber before becoming head coach. Other Red Horde assistants included current De La Salle coach Tom Whiten and St. Patrick coach Mike Bailey.

“Coach Bonk taught me a lot about basketball,” Kleinschmidt said. “I’ve known him for 35 years. He taught me a lot about the game. It’s great to come back for this — Gordon was built as a brother school to Weber.”

Coach Bonk plans on telling his team about the significance of Weber’s old gym and about some of the former Horde players.

“Hopefully this game will bring back a lot of guys (who graduated),” Bonk said. “If a lot people see it, hopefully we can do it every year if Nazareth doesn’t have a problem.”~.

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