Kaiser on the job at College of DuPage
There's a new chap with the Chaps.
Monday was Day 1 at College of DuPage for Ryan Kaiser, the Chaparrals' first full-time athletic director since Greg McVey ended his brief tenure in May 2019.
Kaiser has both youth and experience on his side.
"I'm 41 and this has been my 17th year in athletics, so I've been in the game a long time," he said.
An Oregon native, Kaiser comes to COD after more than three years as director of intercollegiate athletics at Lindenwood University in Belleville.
Previously Kaiser served as either athletic director or associate/assistant director at Northwestern Oklahoma State, Warner Pacific (Oregon), Newberry College (South Carolina) and Western Oregon.
His father, Dick Kaiser, is commissioner of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and worked 19 years as an athletic director.
"The thing that I have learned from him more than anything is at times you have to be tough. That means making tough decisions when tough decisions need to happen," Ryan Kaiser said.
"You're going to pay me to tell the truth and sometimes that truth isn't what you want to hear."
One of those truths hastened his arrival at College of DuPage.
An NAIA institution, Lindenwood-Belleville is across the border from Lindenwood's 192-year-old Division II branch in St. Charles, Missouri.
Last May Lindenwood's board of trustees voted to consolidate and close the undergraduate campus in Illinois after this school year.
Fortunately for Kaiser, in swooped an old pal from Northwestern Oklahoma State. In November current Elmhurst College athletic director Wendy McManus told a dismayed Kaiser of the opening at College of DuPage.
"I kind of followed up on it on a whim, and it ends up I'm going to be neighbors again with one of my best friends in the whole world," he said.
"As many people that go to school there, they really have an opportunity to be successful," said Kaiser, fully aware of the Chaparrals' historical success in football, basketball and other sports.
As an Oregon State undergrad he met his wife, Corie. They have 10-year-old twin sons, Caden and Carson.
"My family and I are extremely excited about the opportunity," Kaiser said.
It comes with a caveat.
"Living in St. Louis I became the biggest (Cardinals baseball) fan this year, so there is absolutely no chance of me becoming a White Sox or Cubs fan. Being the only one of the three that went to the playoffs last year I'm sure it'll be a fun rivalry we can talk about."
Naperville Central teacher and coach Barry Baldwin is continuing one legacy of Justin Wegner.
The 2015 Redhawks graduate, diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma after his freshman baseball season at Wisconsin-Whitewater, passed away last July.
While undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, his parents stayed at a Ronald McDonald House. Services at the 368 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide -- DuPage County locations in Winfield and Oak Brook -- include providing meals and housing for families near their hospitalized children.
At the time Wegner contacted Baldwin to "do something" for Ronald McDonald House, Baldwin recalled. They decided on a gift card drive, since the houses stock a variety of gift cards for quickly uprooted families to use.
Dunkin' Donuts. Barnes & Noble. Home Depot.
Any and all.
"Maybe we'd raise a couple hundred bucks," Baldwin said.
Through three years they raised more than $26,000 in gift cards. That doesn't include this year's drive, which lasts through Jan. 31.
No purveyor is denied, no amount too small.
"A kid gave me one today with 7 cents on it," Baldwin said, happily, on Tuesday.
Cards can be sent to Baldwin at Naperville Central, 440 W. Aurora Ave., Naperville, Illinois, 60540.
"The (Wegner) family, it's so important for them to help others," Baldwin said.
"They look out for others more than they look out for themselves sometimes. I know that's what Justin was doing."