DeKALB – Mark Sykes doesn’t think Dave Pettengell would want to be honored by DeKalb High School, but Sykes thinks he deserves it.
“He had an impact on a lot of kids’ lives,” Skyes, one of the high school’s assistant athletic directors, said. “It’s a very nice tribute to him and his family.”
DeKalb School District 428 will honor the high school’s longtime baseball coach by naming the high school’s baseball field after him. Pettengell retired in 2010 after 21 seasons coaching Barbs athletics. He died in 2011 at the age of 60.
The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, between games of a doubleheader against Dixon.
Pettengell led the Barbs to the IHSA Class AA State Tournament in 1995. During his 29 years at DeKalb, Sykes said Pettengell taught business education and driver’s education, and coached football and basketball in addition to baseball. Pettengell was also a member of the Illinois Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Josh Latimer said he was proud to see the district honor Pettengell.
Now a special education teacher at Camelot School in DeKalb, Latimer played DeKalb baseball for four years, three of them on Pettengell’s varsity team.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Latimer said. “I don’t think there’s anyone around DeKalb who’s more deserving of this.”
Latimer described his old coach as tough but fair, and said he approached both the players and the game with the utmost respect. He described Pettengell’s approach to baseball as something he’ll never forget.
District Superintendent James Briscoe said he remembered Pettengell’s positive energy. When Briscoe toured the community shortly after becoming superintendent in 2008, he would always run into Pettengell.
“To me, Dave Pettengell represented everything that was good about DeKalb,” Briscoe said.
Art Rohlman, a former athletic director and coach who worked with Pettengell for 25 years, said Pettengell’s family were coming in from Chicago and Arizona for the ceremony.
Rohlman said they will unveil a sign on the scoreboard that will read Pettengell Field. A plaque that will memorialize Pettengell will be added later.
“It should be a good tribute for Dave for his longevity and loyalty at the high school,” Rohlman said. “It’s a way of recognizing someone who did so much for the DeKalb school system.”
If you go
What: Dedication ceremony to Dave Pettengell
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday, or whenever the first game against Dixon ends.
Where: Baseball field at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road, DeKalb