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Schwab: Tribute on tap for former Geneva athlete

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 5:32 a.m. CST

The forecast calls for a beautiful day for golf today, the kind of afternoon on which Geneva boys golf coach Bill Koehn vividly recalls Raymond Kaligian carving up courses with precision and savvy.

Kaligian is no longer around to enjoy Saturdays like this, but members of the Geneva community are coming together today to make sure he’s not forgotten.

The class of 2003 Geneva graduate will be memorialized with the dedication of a bench near the Geneva High School baseball field in a ceremony at 1 p.m. today.

A highly regarded golfer and baseball player during his days at Geneva, Kaligian died in his hometown of Houston in February in what has been described as a freak occurrence of carbon monoxide poisoning when his car’s automatic starter turned on and the fumes traveled through a vacuum duct into his bedroom, where he and his dog were reportedly found dead.

Geneva boys golf coach Bill Koehn, in the final year of his 30 years of coaching the Vikings, will be among today’s speakers. It won’t be an easy task, Koehn said.

“I can remember watching him at Mistwood Golf Club down in Plainfield, and he missed a hole-in-one by inches on a par-3. I can still see him running to the green, he was so excited,” Koehn said. “Just a good kid.”

The Vikings’ 2013 golf season has been dedicated to Kaligian, who had a girlfriend and was employed by Phillips 66, Koehn said. 

Kaligian’s parents, Ray and Bobbie, reside in Geneva. The family attended the Vikings’ first home match of the fall and became acquainted with team members.

“He was one of my favorite all-time players,” Koehn said. “A young man who was probably a better baseball player when he first started playing golf, but he really worked hard at it. He was all-conference as junior in golf but senior year he was conference MVP and he still holds I think three or four records for the school playing for me. 

“He was one of those kids you just loved being around. He was very well respected by younger kids on the team. Some seniors will just ignore freshmen completely, but Ray was one who was there to help them. He was just a great leader. His demeanor on and off the course was just special.”

Koehn said Kaligian missed qualifying for the IHSA state tournament by one stroke his senior year. He was one of the top students in his class at Geneva and opted to focus on academics rather than pursue sports in college, Koehn said.

Koehn said this year’s team is committed to trying to live up to Kaligian’s example.

“My two captains have been very supportive,” Koehn said. “I’m pretty sure the team will be there to support the family this weekend. I know we’ve talked about that, and they want to be involved.”

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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