Marty Bee built solid legacy in 16-year tenure as Naperville Central ADNaperville Central Athletic Director Marty Bee (on the left), talks with Naperville Central girls soccer coach Barry Baldwin on Friday, May 18, 2012 at Naperville Central High School. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2012 6:53PM
Asking the people who know him best, one thing becomes increasingly clear about Naperville Central’s outgoing athletic director Marty Bee.
For the last 16 years, Bee, retiring at the end of the 2011-12 school year, has been defined by his strength and ability to deal with people on an everyday basis in leading the Naperville Central athletic department.
“When Marty became the athletic director, little things started happening,” former Naperville Central baseball coach Bill Seiple said of Bee. “He took care of his coaches. He took care of our athletes. He worked with our faculty, our booster club and I just thought Marty was the guy. He was the difference, in terms of pushing us over the edge where it’s not an unusual thing to see Naperville Central vie for a state championship.
“It’s kind of been typical. It’s almost the expectation and I think Marty deserves the lion’s share of the credit, for both the way he deals with his coaches but also the way he deals with the athletes and our community.”
Bee will be honored from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday during an open house in the Naperville Central cafeteria.
Hired from Naperville North in 1996 after spending the last two years of his 17-year tenure at North as the Huskies’ assistant athletic director, Bee has helped take the Redhawks’ athletic department to new heights.
Under his stewardship, Naperville Central’s various athletic programs have combined to win 12 state championships, highlighted by the 1999 Class 6A football state title, back-to-back Class AA girls’ basketball state titles in 2003 and 2004 and a pair of baseball state titles in 2006 and 2010.
“We’ve been unbelievably successful with him as our leader,” said Bill Hughes, who, like Bee, is retiring at the end of this school year after spending the last 27 years as Naperville Central’s head athletic trainer. “We went through a couple of (ADs) before he got here and he’s been a stable, calming influence on the entire staff.”
Part of that stability that Bee has instilled in his 16-year tenure as athletic director was his willingness to demonstrate confidence in Naperville Central’s philosophy throughout its athletic department.
When openings occurred at the top of both of the football and boys’ basketball programs several years ago, Bee decided to promote from within, tabbing a pair of sophomore coaches in the respective sports to take over the reins.
Pete Kramer succeeded Bob Sterr as the head boys’ basketball coach in 2003 and Mike Stine replaced Joe Bunge as the head football coach in 2006.
When Seiple, after building the baseball program into a state power over 30 years, decided to step into retirement after the 2010-11 school year, Bee didn’t waver in quickly naming 1990 Naperville Central graduate Mike Stock to the post.
“That’s something that he always believed in. He always kind to seems to have (his) ducks in a row,” Stine said. “I think he has a great ability to make sure things are prepared. He’s always prepared with things like that. He believes in what he’s doing. He believes in Naperville Central and really the whole Naperville School District philosophy and that’s one of the things that he really believed in was to promote within. Obviously, I was a beneficiary of that with the football job.
“That’s just something that he had confidence in the people around him and I couldn’t ask to work for a better person. He’s a boss. He’s a good friend of mine. I call him all the time with things and I’ll continue to do that. If you needed something as a coach, he never asked why. If you were asking and you knew it was important, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking him, and he figured out a way to get whatever we needed.”
Spending the last 33 years working tirelessly at both Naperville North and Naperville Central, Bee’s work has also had an impact beyond the city.
Since 2011, he has served on the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation’s Board of Directors, joining Barry Baldwin, Central’s boys’ head golf coach and a member of the foundation’s board of directors since 2008.
The foundation, based in Villa Grove, Colo., helps cultivate leadership in student-athletes from all over the country.
“I’ve worked for a lot of athletic directors and by far the one that cares the most really has been Marty,” said Baldwin, who has worked at Naperville Central since 1993. “I hear horror stories from other schools about their athletic directors and I think the biggest compliment is people at other schools say, ‘We wish we had an athletic director like you guys.’ That’s gotta be the highest compliment that can be paid to somebody.”
As Bee prepares to leave his post and hand the reins of the Naperville Central athletic program over to current West Aurora athletic director Andy Lutzenkirchen on July 1, he knows he has left the athletic department in sound shape.
Part of that reasoning stems from the $87.7 million renovation project he helped oversee.
“I think we’re in great shape. One of the first things I did when I got here, I think it might have been my second year, was I did an assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and I had little focus groups with parents and athletes and coaches,” Bee said. “Probably the biggest weakness we had at that time was facilities, so the push was on (to improve them). We re-did a locker room and it was a small thing, but it was a big step, I think, to starting.
“I think we’ve tried to work hard to upgrade the facilities, and certainly the renovation work we just completed was huge in that sense. But the facilities part was critical. We had to work on that because that was a big glaring weakness, in terms of the program.”