Ever since he was little, current NBA player and former Brown Deer basketball star Steve Novak remembers his father, Falcon Athletic Director Mike Novak, talking about the creation of a grand fieldhouse facility at the school that Mike jokingly referred to as the "Nova-Dome".
Well that wish became reality Wednesday, as Steve Novak helped put the finishing touches on the multi-million dollar school district referendum project by announcing at the dedication ceremony/community pep rally that he had donated $100,000 to the process.
And because of his generosity, the grand fieldhouse facility, replete with four-lane indoor track, rock-climbing wall and a state-of-the-art scoreboard, will have a name in keeping with Mike Novak's long-ago dream.
It'll be called "The Brown Deer Novak Family Fieldhouse".
"My Dad fantasized about building a dome," said Steve from a podium at center-court of the new fieldhouse. "Well ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you dreams do come true. I can't tell you how much this means to have all my Dad's hard work and my family recognized this way."
The gesture was a complete surprise to Mike Novak, who could be quietly seen saying 'Wow!" when Brown Deer Superintendent Dr. Deb Kerr made the announcement. The vast majority of the large crowd in attendance rose to their feet and applauded this fine act of generosity from one of their own.
Such was the emotion of the situation, that both father and son could be seen tearing up during Steve's prepared comments that followed the announcement as this was truly a tribute worthy of the best father and son moments one call recall.
In fact, Steve had to take a couple of pronounced pauses as he was choking up a bit.
"This was a mix of his vision, his work, his sweat, blood and tears," said Steve of his father. "From the time I was born, I was destined to be a Brown Deer Falcon, because that's what he was. He taught me how to love and how to give 100 percent to everything that I did."
Steve Novak also profusely praised Dr. Kerr for her leadership and the community of Brown Deer for approving the vast majority of the funds for the badly-needed rebuilding process.
"The people of Brown Deer had the vision and generosity to see that this building could set the community apart," he said. "It is truly a beautiful thing and an honor to be part of all this."
The overflow crowd at the event was feted to a catered snack bar, a Marine Honor Guard, performances by the Dean School fourth grade drummers, performances by the Brown Deer Concert Choir and the high school band as well as unofficial tours of the facility. The Milwaukee Brewers' Racing Sausages also turned in the first "official" race on the track with the Chorizo "winning".
The dedication was the culmination of a process that was nine years in the making and officially got the green light two years ago when voters in the district approved two referendum questions totaling $22 million though the final cost is projected to be well under that.
The reconstruction process creates a two-school campus, with the renovated high school to house the seventh through 12th graders and the rebuilt middle school housing the first through sixth graders.
Steve Novak said that he was interested early on in donating to the project and jumped at the chance of appearing at the final ceremonies.
"We stayed connected, and worked hard at it, but this was literally the only day that would work," he said. "...It was just an honor to be approached to do this."
Steve Novak's NBA team, the New York Knicks, play at Chicago Thursday night, making his participation in his alma mater's "Shining Moment" (as it was billed) geographically possible.
Afterward and long into the night, the son extended this tribute to his father and to his old school by signing every autograph, shaking every hand and posing for every picture that was requested of him.
As that process went on longer and longer, his father finally chuckled and said "Now it becomes a matter of how do we rescue him."
Steve Novak didn't need rescuing, because he was filling the role of a favorite son making good, as well as that of a son honoring his father by respecting his Dad's work.
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