Rockford Public Schools will celebrate the eighth annual Champions Ball and Athletic Hall of Fame at 5 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. The event is a fundraiser for the Rockford Sports Coalition and a way to recognize Rockford's history and athletic accomplishments. Congratulations to the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees:
Mark Sibley, Athlete Award – West High School
Dan Scarpetta, Athlete Award – Auburn High School
Amanda Omar, Athlete Award – East High School
Seth Miller, Athlete Award – Auburn High School
1968 Guilford High School baseball team, Team Award
Coach Bob Pellant, Coach Award – East High School
The Rockford Sports Coalition's mission is to preserve, support and promote interscholastic athletic programs and facilities in RPS 205. Tickets for the annual fundraiser are $50 and available at rockfordsportscoalition.org. More about the 2020 Hall of Fame class:
Mark Sibley was a three-year starter for West High School's basketball team. Sibley was a sophomore on the 1966-1967 team that went 28-2 and finished fourth in the IHSA state tournament. He was named to the first all-conference team in 1967-1968 and 1968-1969 when West had a combined 39-11 record.
While Sibley also found success in football and baseball, he went on to play basketball at Northwestern University, scoring 1,113 points and grabbing 364 rebounds in 71 games from 1970 through 1973.
The Chicago Bulls drafted Sibley in the fourth round of the 1973 NBA draft. While Sibley didn't make the Bulls, he did play with the Portland Trailblazers for 28 games in the 1973-1974 season. He was the last RPS 205 player to play in the NBA until Auburn graduate Fred VanVleet.
Dan Scarpetta was a three-year starting pitcher for Auburn High School from 1980 through 1982. According to published box scores, Scarpetta won at least 18 games over three years for Auburn and struck out at least 335 batters in 222 innings. Sophomore year, Scarpetta was named to the all-conference team, honorable mention. He was named to the first all-conference team his senior year. The Knights won 11 games that year, and Scarpetta struck out 199 batters and pitched Auburn to an IHSA sectional final. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Scarpetta in the third round of the major league draft in 1982. Scarpetta remains the highest pick ever for a RPS 205 player. Scarpetta pitched in the minor leagues for eight years, reaching AAA in 1987 and 1988.
Amanda Omar was named to the NIC-9 first all-conference team three times when she played volleyball at East High School. She was also a two-time MVP before she graduated in 1995 with 824 kills.
In college, Omar played at the University of Arkansas, then for Missouri State University. She led the team in kills and digs during her two seasons at Missouri State.
After college, Omar played professionally in Puerto Rico in 2001-2002 and in Finland in 2007-2009. Omar now coaches volleyball at the Amateur Athletic Union and community college level.
Seth Miller was an all-conference football, basketball and track star at Auburn High School from 1963 to 1965. In football, Miller finished fourth in the Big Eight Conference in receiving yardage his junior year and seventh in rushing his senior year. In basketball, he was a top-10 scorer in his junior and senior years for Auburn teams that went 37-12. In track, Miller was a member of the 1966 Auburn one-mile relay team that finished second in the IHSA state track meet.
Miller played college football at Arizona State University where he led the NCAA in interceptions his senior year. The Atlanta Falcons picked Miller in the eighth round of the 1970 NFL draft. Miller didn't make the Falcons, but he did play in the Canadian Football League in 1970 and caught on with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League in 1974. He finished second in the WFL in interceptions that year and was leading the league in 1975 when the league folded. Miller died in 2010.
The 1968 Guilford baseball team is one of just three RPS 205 teams to advance to the IHSA state baseball tournament and the only team to make it to a state title game. The Vikings won the Big Eight Conference title with an 11-2-1 record and finished 20-3 overall. At the state tournament, the Vikings beat Albion Edwards County and Champaign Central to reach the title game where they lost to Peoria Manual. Coached by Herb Sisler, five Vikings were first-team all-conference players: Brad Blair, Nick Janicki, Dick Dummer, Glenn Nowicki and Ron Holmer. Two players were named to the second team: Mark Hunt and Don James.
Coach Bob Pellant was a three-sport athlete and state champion at East High School. He returned to East and became a three-sport and state champion coach. Pellant played football and basketball and ran track at East. He was the 1954 state discus champion. He attended the University of Illinois where a knee injury kept him from playing football. Instead, he focused on track where he set the school discus record in 1958.
Pellant returned to Rockford as a teacher and coach in 1959. He coached track and basketball before taking over the East football program in 1965. He coached the E-Rabs through the 1975 season. In those 11 seasons, the E-Rabs went 62-19 in conference play and 77-25 overall. East won or shared seven conference championships. The 1973 and 1974 teams went 22-0, and the 1974 team won a state title in the first year of the IHSA playoffs. That 1974 team was inducted into the RPS 205 Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2017, the 1974 team was voted one of the 32 greatest Illinois football teams in a Chicago Tribune poll.