New Chicago White Sox infielder Nicky Lopez is having fun with essentially the most unforgettable offseason of his life.
That was true even earlier than receiving an honor Friday that he mentioned ranks among the many better of his accomplishments.
“It’s been an eventful offseason, for sure,” Lopez mentioned. “A day earlier than I bought married, I bought traded from the Braves to the White Sox.
“That was something I won’t take for granted, just to be able to come back and play for a hometown team, which is something special.”
But getting the decision for the Naperville Central Athletic Hall of Fame is equally particular for Lopez, 28, who graduated from the college in 2013 after incomes 5 varsity letters in baseball and basketball. He was inducted Friday, becoming a member of a Hall of Fame that already included Candace Parker, Anthony Parker, Owen Daniels, Sean Payton and Casey Krueger.
“100 percent it’s up there, only because it means so much not only to me but my family,” Lopez mentioned. “This is the place it began.
“This is a steppingstone for the journey that I’m still on. So that’s what I’m most thankful for, that I’m coming back and seeing all the teachers who have helped me become who I am. That’s why it’s a little bit more special.”
Those academics embrace Naperville Central basketball coach Pete Kramer and baseball coach Mike Stock, who had been proud to be a part of the induction ceremony held earlier than the boys basketball recreation in opposition to Neuqua Valley.
“It being Nicky, there was a lot of excitement in the building, and that would have been the case even if he was playing for the Braves,” Stock mentioned. “But the actual fact he’s with the Sox provides one other layer.
“It’s just a blast. It’s one of the rewards that you get from being around people like this all the time. We want to make sure we slow it down and celebrate. He’s a great young man from a great family.”
Also inducted Friday had been 2006 graduate Erica Carter, who helped Naperville Central’s women basketball group win two state titles and scored greater than 1,000 factors at Binghamton; pioneering feminine athlete Lois Madsen, a 1975 graduate who turned the primary individual to earn a full volleyball scholarship at Northern Illinois; wrestling star Rodney Landorf, a 1962 graduate who turned an Army officer and obtained a Bronze Star within the Vietnam War; and late wrestling coach Bill Young.
“I haven’t been back to Naperville since a few months after I graduated,” Carter mentioned. “There are so many superb instances that occurred all through highschool and my athletic profession.
“Walking through the hallways, it brings back a lot of good memories, and I feel honored to be a part of the Hall of Fame. I know there are so many student-athletes that go through the building at Naperville Central, and it’s just been a day full of amazing memories.”
Lopez’s household, together with his dad and mom Bob and Angela and brothers Bobby and Anthony, nonetheless lives in Naperville. Angela Lopez offered him for induction.
“Obviously, this honor is humbling,” Nicky Lopez mentioned. “You always hear each year of people getting inducted, so to be able to add to the list is awesome.”
After graduating from Naperville Central, Lopez performed baseball at Creighton and was picked by the Kansas City Royals within the fifth spherical of the 2016 MLB draft. When the Royals referred to as him up in 2019, he turned the primary Naperville Central graduate to play within the main leagues.
Lopez, who has a .249/.312/.319 profession slash line, was a Gold Glove finalist at second base in 2020 and have become the primary Royals shortstop to hit .300 in 2021. He performed elements of 5 seasons in Kansas City earlier than being traded in July to the Braves, whom he helped win the National League East title.
Lopez mentioned he’s thrilled to hitch the White Sox, who acquired him in November.
“I grew up going to White Sox games,” he mentioned. “I went to Game 2 of the World Series in 2005, so just being able to put the jersey on, wow, it’s cool.”
Long identified for his humble, hardworking method to the sport, Lopez is fast to share credit score for his ascent.
“When you come to high school, obviously you’re there to learn, but you’re there to grow and also learn life lessons, and these teachers every step of the way helped mold me,” he mentioned. “Whether it was my English instructor or math instructor, we’ve all had conversations with them which have helped me get to the place I’m at.
“I can’t thank them enough. They’ve done so good by me with all the respect and love that they’ve shown, and I keep in touch with them.”
Matt Le Cren is a contract reporter for the Naperville Sun.