The words, Vic Sahagun Championship Room, were handwritten on a piece of paper and taped to the wall at the door of the Whiting High School weight room, a simple, no frills expression of respect to someone who meant so much to the Oilers football program.

"On a personal level, I can't imagine being 28 and having such an impact," 17-year Whiting assistant coach Brett Jennings said of Sahagun, Whiting graduate, friend and colleague who died at that age in 2014. "In my years coaching with him, he just inspired a lot of different people."

Wednesday night, the paper sign came down and a plaque, bearing Sahagun's name, image and words of motivation, went up, formally etching his place in the school's history.

"It means a ton to me for the school board and superintendent to support something like this," Jennings said. "It was so sad a situation. To put his face and name on the wall of the weight room, it shows that though he's gone, his legacy lives on. I've never been more proud of anything and fortunate to be part of the organization that did it."

A few years ago, when Chris Davenport took over weight room supervision, he began calling the facility the Vic Sahagun Championship Room and the title took off from there. Jennings said a school board member and teacher approached them about making the name official, and that measure was approved in September. The plaque includes the phrase, 'Do Work,' a favorite saying of Sahagun's that has become synonymous with Whiting much like RDP represents Lowell.

"It was that team's slogan and it branched off," Jennings said. "It's kind of become Whiting's thing."

Sahagun's parents, Maria and Fernando, and other relatives were in attendance for the unveiling, which was done in conjunction with the kickoff of a $50,000 fundraising campaign to renovate the room with state-of-the-art equipment.

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"It's old, dingy, the equipment's outdated," Jennings said. "Right now, you put 25 kids in there, it's packed. The consultant's plan is to be able to fit 50. That's the magic number. We really want to create an atmosphere everybody, male and female, can be proud of, where other sports, not just football and basketball players, want to be."

The project in total will cost roughly $80,000, and Jennings said the corporation is helping out as best it can. The are reaching out to alumni and corporate benefactors to help cover the majority of it with some fundraising ideas in the works.

"With things how they are, we know it would be difficult for them to fund the whole thing," Jennings said. "We're lucky to have such a great school and community."

While Jennings admits the the summer of 2019 projection date for completing the project is ambitious, he's hopeful people will tackle the undertaking with the same vigor that Sahagun tackled coaching.

"We want it to look great, especially since it has Vic's name on it," Jennings said.

If you want to help the Oilers "Do Work," go to www.vicsahagunchampionshiproom.org for more information. The website will be up and running by week's end.


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.