St. Louis, Missouri
Sidney Herbert Hatch – Track, Silver Medalist
(born 1883 in River Forest; died 1966 in Maywood, Ill.)
Sidney H. Hatch was one of the greatest distance runners to come from our communities. He attended Oak Park & River Forest High School where he ran track. In 1906 he set an unofficial world record in the 100-mile run, and was a 2nd-place finisher in the 1917 Boston Marathon. At the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games, Hatch was a silver medalist in the men’s four mile team, and also competed in the marathon. He ran in the 1908 London Olympic marathon as well. Hatch was chosen for the 1912 Olympic team for the games that were held in Stockholm, Sweden, but he did not go. In addition to his running prowess, Hatch was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for his heroism in combat during World War I.
Harry G. Goelitz - Track
(born 1894 in Oak Park; died 1971 in Oak Park)
Harry G. Goelitz attended Oak Park & River Forest High School where he ran track and played football. In 1914, Goelitz, running for the Chicago Athletic Association, broke the world record in the 100 yard high hurdles, and in 1917 was the national amateur all-round champion in track. He competed in the decathlon at the 1920 Antwerp games.
William Robert Vosburgh, Jr. – Water Polo
(born 1890 in Oak Park; died 1953 in Oak Park)
William R. Vosburgh, Jr. attended Oak Park & River Forest High School and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1913, where he served as captain of the swimming team. He won numerous swimming championships at the Illinois Athletic Club, and competed on the water polo team at the 1920 Antwerp games. Vosburgh was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1981.
1952 Summer Olympics
Charles (Chuck) Hoag – Basketball, Gold Medalist
(born 1931 in Guthrie, Oklahoma; died 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas)
Chuck Hoag’s family moved from Kansas to Oak Park when he was 10 years old. He was a 1949 graduate of Oak Park & River Forest High School where he was a standout athlete, lettering in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He played football, basketball, and ran track at the University of Kansas, and was a member of the 1952 Kansas basketball team that won the NCAA championship. Hoag was a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1952 Helsinki games. Posthumously, Chuck Hoag received the Oak Park & River Forest High School Tradition of Excellence Award in 2013.
John W. Wood - Soccer
(born 1884 in Nottingham, England; died 1959 in Nashville, Tennessee)
John W. Wood was a top English football (soccer) player, coach, and official who played for England in five international matches. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1906 and played for several east coast soccer teams. Wood became the head soccer coach at Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1927, where he won eleven unofficial state titles; he retired in 1955. He was president of the National Soccer Coaches Association in 1949. Wood coached the U.S. soccer team at the 1952 Helsinki games and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1953.
1956 Summer Olympics
Ted Wheeler - Track
(born 1931 in Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Ted Wheeler was a track and cross country star at Evanston Township High School in Illinois (class of 1950). He continued his running career at the University of Iowa where he was an All-American. He ran the 1500 meters at the 1956 Melbourne games. Ted Wheeler and his family moved to Oak Park in 1965, where they were among the earliest African American pioneers to settle here in that period. He was active in the civil rights and fair housing movement. Later, he returned to the University of Iowa where he became one of the first black coaches at a major university, serving as head coach of men’s cross-country from 1979 to 1987; and head track coach from 1978 to 1997.
1960 Summer Olympics
William M. Parks – Sailing, Bronze Medalist
(born 1921 in Oak Park; died 2008 in Glenview, Illinois)
William M. Parks graduated from Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1940. He began competitive racing with Star Class yachts in 1938 on Lake Michigan, and he enjoyed a long and distinguished competitive racing career. Parks won a bronze medal in Star Class sailing at the 1960 Rome games. He was an ISAF (International Sailing Federation) International Judge and past Commodore of the Chicago Yacht Club.
1964 Summer Olympics
Kenneth Sitzberger – Diving, Gold Medalist
(born 1945 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; died 1984 in California)
Ken Sitzberger was a River Forest resident and 1963 graduate of Fenwick High School, where he was the Catholic League Diving Champion. He was inducted posthumously into the Fenwick High School Hall of Fame and the International Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame. He went on to Indiana University where he was a NCAA champion diver. At the 1964 Tokyo games, Sitzberger became the youngest person to win the gold medal in 3 meter springboard diving. He later did sports commentary for ABC, including Olympic coverage.
1992 Summer Olympics
Carol Feeney – Rowing, Silver Medalist
(born 1964 in Oak Park)
Carol Feeney graduated from Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1982. She rowed for the University of Wisconsin and was a member of the Wisconsin crew that won the 1986 national collegiate title in varsity women’s eight. Feeney was a member of the women’s coxless fours that won a silver medal in rowing at the 1992 Barcelona games.
1996 Summer Olympics
Danielle (Dani) Tyler – Softball, Gold Medalist
Dani Tyler grew up in River Forest and was a shortstop on the River Forest youth softball state title teams in 1987 and 1988. She graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1992 and received All-State honors in softball. Dani was honored with the High School’s Tradition of Excellence Award in 2002. After an outstanding collegiate career at Drake University, she was selected for the first U.S. Olympic softball team. This team went on to win the first Olympic gold medal in softball at the Atlanta games.
1996 Paralympic Games
2000 Paralympic Games
John Register – Swimming and Track & Field, Silver Medalist
John Register graduated from Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1985 and received the High School’s Tradition of Excellence Award in 2007. He was a three-time All-American in track and field at the University of Arkansas. In 1994 he lost his left leg due to an accident, but soon resumed his athletic activities. He was a member of the 1996 U.S. Paralympic swim team. Register then restarted his track and field career and was silver medalist in the long jump at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney where he also competed in the 100m and 200m dashes. He has served as manager of the USOC Paralympic Academy, and as director of the USOC Paralympic Sport Military Program
2002 Winter Olympics
Salt Lake City, Utah
Rebecca Wilczak - Luge
(born 1980 in Berwyn, Illinois)
Becky Wilczak grew up in River Forest and took up the sport of luge when she was 12 years old. She graduated from Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1998. A top performer for the United States, she competed in women’s single luge at the 2002 Salt Lake City games where she tied the best-ever finish by a U.S. female luger. Wilczak was named USA Luge’s 2002 Female Athlete of the Year.
2006 Winter Olympics
Aaron Parchem – Pairs Figure Skating
(born 1977 in Columbus, Ohio)
Aaron Parchem first began skating at the Ridgeland Commons Ice Rink in Oak Park and began his competitive career as a singles skater. He graduated from Oak Park & River Forest High School in 1995, and received the High School’s Tradition of Excellence Award in 2009. In college he switched to pairs skating; he and his partner won the 2000 National Junior Championship and were alternates for the 2002 Olympic Games. Parchem and partner Marcy Hinzeman competed in the pairs skating competition at the 2006 Torino games. Aaron Parchem made history for being the first African-American male to represent the U.S. in Olympic figure skating.
2012 Summer Olympics
London, United Kingdom
Ellis Coleman -- Wrestling
Ellis Coleman of Oak Park competed in Greco-Roman wrestling at the London Games. Coleman, a 2009 graduate of Oak Park & River Forest High School, and the youngest member of the U.S. wrestling team, has become famous for his “Flying Squirrel” takedown move. The move went viral on Youtube.
In a four minute match in London, Coleman lost to a Bulgarian wrestler named Angelov with a final score of Angelov 1-0; 7-1.
2014 Winter Olympics
Emery Lehman -- Speedskating, 5000 & 10,000 meters
Emery Lehman began speedskating at the age of 9 to improve his ice hockey skills, but he soon began to rise quickly through the junior ranks of speedskating, becoming the 5000 meter U.S. Junior Champion in 2011; in 2013 he was the gold-medalist at 5000 meters in the World Junior Championships in Italy. As a 17-year-old Senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School, Lehman became the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Speedskating Team, and the youngest male U.S. athlete at the Sochi Games. At the U.S. Olympic Trials, his dramatic come-from-behind victory in the 10,000 meter race, along with his second place finish at 5000 meters, won him a place on the team. Emery Lehman was the top U.S. finisher in both of the events in which he competed in Sochi. This talented athlete also played lacrosse and ice hockey at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He is looking ahead to the 2018 Winter games in South Korea.