A stream of red and white national championship banners in the Residence Hall/Recreation Center grows steadily, thanks to the talents of North Central’s student-athletes, their coaches and Caroline Smith ’69 Lewis. The Naperville resident donates her time, talent and materials to construct the banners.
“One thing I won’t do is buy any of the materials ahead of time,” she says. “If I were to have it on hand, they might not win. I only buy what I need after Al (Carius) calls me to say they won.”
Lewis can’t remember exactly when she took over the job, but she knows it was at least 25 years ago and through the cross country connections of her husband, Bob Lewis ’69. He was part of coach Al Carius’ first cross country team in 1966. “We couldn’t really believe that he was for real,” remembers Lewis, one of only six runners on the team at the time. “We had no history in the sport. On the first day of practice, we didn’t even run. He just talked and talked.”
Caroline Lewis was an art major at North Central and was happy to take on the ongoing banner project for her alma mater, which involves more gluing than sewing, she says. “The color of the fabric is always ‘tomato’ but it seems to vary from time to time when I buy it, probably because of the dye lot.”
The couple was honored at the annual Alumni Indoor Track and Field Meet on January 4 and received NCAA Division III championship watches. “Their connection to North Central College continues today,” said Carius. “That’s what makes this a special place.”
Could a banner celebrating a championship in a sport like football or basketball be in Lewis’ future? “Perhaps, but I’ll always be partial to cross country,” she says.