April 14, 2024

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 positive,” Lopez mentioned. “A day earlier than I acquired married, I acquired traded from the Braves to the White Sox.

“That was one thing I gained’t take with no consideration, simply to have the ability to come again and play for a hometown staff, which is one thing particular.”

However getting the decision for the Naperville Central Athletic Corridor 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 Corridor of Fame that already included Candace Parker, Anthony Parker, Owen Daniels, Sean Payton and Casey Krueger.

“100% it’s up there, solely as a result of it means a lot not solely to me however my household,” Lopez mentioned. “That is the place it began.

“It is a steppingstone for the journey that I’m nonetheless on. In order that’s what I’m most grateful for, that I’m coming again and seeing all of the lecturers who’ve helped me grow to be who I’m. That’s why it’s slightly bit extra particular.”

These lecturers embody Naperville Central basketball coach Pete Kramer and baseball coach Mike Inventory, 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 plenty of pleasure within the constructing, and that might have been the case even when he was enjoying for the Braves,” Inventory mentioned. “However the truth he’s with the Sox provides one other layer.

“It’s only a blast. It’s one of many rewards that you just get from being round individuals like this on a regular basis. We need to make sure that we sluggish it down and have fun. He’s a fantastic younger man from a fantastic household.”

Additionally inducted Friday had been 2006 graduate Erica Carter, who helped Naperville Central’s women basketball staff win two state titles and scored greater than 1,000 factors at Binghamton; pioneering feminine athlete Lois Madsen, a 1975 graduate who grew to become the primary particular person to earn a full volleyball scholarship at Northern Illinois; wrestling star Rodney Landorf, a 1962 graduate who grew to become an Military officer and acquired a Bronze Star within the Vietnam Battle; and late wrestling coach Invoice Younger.

“I haven’t been again to Naperville since a number of months after I graduated,” Carter mentioned. “There are such a lot of wonderful instances that occurred all through highschool and my athletic profession.

“Strolling by the hallways, it brings again plenty of good recollections, and I really feel honored to be part of the Corridor of Fame. I do know there are such a lot of student-athletes that undergo the constructing at Naperville Central, and it’s simply been a day full of wonderful recollections.”

Lopez’s household, together with his mother and father Bob and Angela and brothers Bobby and Anthony, nonetheless lives in Naperville. Angela Lopez offered him for induction.

“Clearly, this honor is humbling,” Nicky Lopez mentioned. “You all the time hear every year of individuals getting inducted, so to have the ability to add to the checklist is superior.”

After graduating from Naperville Central, Lopez performed baseball at Creighton and was picked by the Kansas Metropolis Royals within the fifth spherical of the 2016 MLB draft. When the Royals referred to as him up in 2019, he grew to become the primary Naperville Central graduate to play within the main leagues.

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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 Metropolis earlier than being traded in July to the Braves, whom he helped win the Nationwide League East title.

Lopez mentioned he’s thrilled to affix the White Sox, who acquired him in November.

“I grew up going to White Sox video games,” he mentioned. “I went to Sport 2 of the World Collection in 2005, so simply having the ability to put the jersey on, wow, it’s cool.”

Kansas City Royals infielder Nicky Lopez bats during a game against the Minnesota Twins in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

Lengthy identified for his humble, hardworking strategy to the sport, Lopez is fast to share credit score for his ascent.

“Once you come to highschool, clearly you’re there to study, however you’re there to develop and in addition study life classes, and these lecturers each step of the best way helped mildew me,” he mentioned. “Whether or not 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 sufficient. They’ve completed so good by me with all of the respect and love that they’ve proven, and I be in contact with them.”

Matt Le Cren is a contract reporter for the Naperville Solar.