September 13, 2023 at 4:06pm

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Elena Ferrarin

Article by Elena Ferrarin

Communications Coordinator
Northbrook Park District


Four accomplished athletes and two dedicated volunteers recently inducted into the Northbrook Park District’s Hall of Fame said they are proud to be from Northbrook and grateful for the sports-related opportunities afforded them locally.

The six individuals made the remarks during an Aug. 28 ceremony in their honor attended by relatives, friends and community members at Heritage Oaks Golf Club in Northbrook.

The athletes honored were professional hockey player J.T. Compher and Olympic speed skater Brian Hansen, inducted into the 2020 Sports Hall of Fame; and Olympic speed skater Lana Gehring and Olympic hockey player Jesse Compher, inducted into the 2022 Sports Hall of Fame.

Longtime baseball coaches Gus Locallo and Stuart Spiegel were inducted into the 2022 Volunteer Hall of Fame.

“I am incredibly impressed with these volunteers who have given decades of their time and knowledge to the youth, and with these talented athletes who continue to give back to the community that they love, at the height of exposure,” former Northbrook Park District Executive Director Molly Hamer said.

Hansen was a member of the Northbrook Speed Skating Club from 1998 to 2006. He competed in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympics, and is a nine-time World Cup individual medalist, including two gold medals, and a four-time World Cup team pursuit medalist.

“Brian is a highly accomplished and decorated athlete dedicated to continuing his contributions to his sport by imparting his enthusiasm and expertise to young athletes who are currently training here in Northbrook,” said Northbrook Park District Commissioner Michael Schyman, chairman of the hall of fame committee.

Hansen is a long track coach for the Northbrook Speed Skating Club, whose head coach is Tom Anderson. It was Anderson, who, when Hansen was a boy, showed him “the power and the gracefulness of speed skating,” Hansen recalled.

Hansen thanked his coaches over the years, including John Singer, Rob Darrow and Cindy Darrow, of Northbrook, and Nancy Swider-Peltz in Milwaukee. “Even in those peak years, I came back to Northbrook, and I trained at the (Ed Rudolph) Velodrome,” Hansen added, “so the park district really has been an all-around great place for me to be and train.”

Jesse Compher first stepped into skates at age 3 for the Northbrook Bluehawks, playing with them until she was 14. At the Beijing 2022 Olympics, she scored three goals and one assist for Team USA, who won a silver medal. She’s also been a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and played for

International Ice Hockey Federation women’s world championship teams that earned a gold medal in 2019 and a silver medal in 2021 and 2022. She played for Boston University and in 2022 transferred to the University of Wisconsin to study for a master’s degree.

“Jesse continues to give back to the Northbrook Bluehawks and the game she loves,” said Park District Commissioner Mike Goodman, a member of the hall of fame committee, “and she started the ‘Jesse Compher Grow the Game Initiative’ working with USA Hockey to help kids, and especially girls, try hockey for free.”

J.T. Compher, Jesse Compher’s brother, also got his start with the Northbrook Bluehawks, later joining the U.S. National Development Team. His career at the University of Michigan from 2013-2015 included being named the Big 10 Rookie of the Year in 2014 and making the NCAA West 2nd All-American Team in 2016. He was drafted in the second round at number 35 of the 2013 NHL Draft, and from 2015-2023 played for the Colorado Avalanche, who won the Stanley Cup in 2022. He now plays for the Detroit Red Wings.

“J.T. has a long history of giving back to local programs and organizations, including the Northbrook Bluehawks and Youth Services of Glenview Northbrook,” Schyman said.

The Compher siblings expressed gratitude for their upbringing in Northbrook.

“I’m just incredibly lucky to call Northbrook home and for everything this community has done for me and my family throughout my career,” Jesse Compher said.

J.T. Compher echoed that. “Where we are today, me and her and our whole family is due to our great community here that we are super proud to be a part of.”

Locallo has been a volunteer baseball coach for house leagues and travel teams for 35 years, and spent two decades as a board member for Northbrook Baseball. He also headed its umpire program, teaching kids the rules of baseball, “Gus is well known for his love of the game and his patience with players who wanted assistance,” said Park District Commissioner Michael Chao, who also serves on the hall of fame committee.

As a kid, Locallo said, he dreamed of running into center field to replace the great Mickey Mantle. While that never happened, “I have always enjoyed the coaching part, trying to maximize kids’ talent,” he said.

He thanked Spiegel, his fellow baseball coach and inductee, with whom he shared “many, many enjoyable moments.”

Spiegel also served as a baseball coach for 35 years, and was a Northbrook Baseball board member for more than 20 years, mostly as director of the travel program. He coached hundreds of young players for both house and travel baseball “with a concentration on teaching the fundamentals of the game in a fair and calm manner,” Chao said.

“It’s nice to be in a community like Northbrook where everybody knows each other and joins together,” Spiegel said, thanking his wife and longtime scorekeeper Howard Goldberg. “If you get something for doing what you like, there is nothing better than that.”

Gehring, who could not take part in the ceremony, was one of Hansen’s training partners at the Northbrook Sports Center. She attended Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah. She was a member of the short track national team for 14 years and competed with the 2010 and 2018 U.S. Olympic speed skating teams, winning the Olympic bronze medal in the 3000-meter relay in 2010.

The park district has recognized more than 60 volunteers and athletes through Hall of Fame induction since 1978. To view the full video of the Aug. 28 ceremony, visit