Notable Napervillians—Movers and shakers put Naperville in the spotlight

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N2013_08_01_034LARGEYou don’t have to spend too much time in Naperville to figure out who comprised its original founders and developers. Their names can be found associated with pharmacies, a heating and air conditioning business, on street signs, and in the rich family tradition of its Fire Department. However, Naperville has evolved from that sprawling farm community whose families set things in motion. Who are some of the new movers and shakers in our community in the next generation? Naperville Magazine identified a trio of talented up-and-comers worth watching in their respective fields of Education, Athletics, and Entertainment.

David Eigenberg—Hollywood Comes Calling


Authenticity is the gold standard for actors who not only survive the competitive arena of theater and television, but succeed. When producers of the NBC Television series “Chicago Fire” came to Chicago, they not only scouted locations for taping, they also scouted for experts. Men and women who work around the clock in firehouses around Chicago, doing the very jobs the producers wanted to replicate. Actor David Eigenberg plays Firefighter Christopher Herrmann. He and other cast members worked five 24-hour shifts with the department. “They’re tough people. They’ve raised the bar for us, as far as actors. They’ve seen so much of life. They have certain gravity to them. There’s a common decency they all have,” said Eigenberg.

Eigenberg was born in New York and raised in Naperville starting at the age of four. The only boy in a family of six children, Eigenberg says he loved working alongside members of the Kuhn family on the horse farms when Naperville was nothing more than a small farm town. His mother, Bev, a former teacher, who still lives in Naperville, says David wasn’t your typical cookie cutter kid. After surviving a few rough years in high school, one semester in college, and overcoming issues with alcohol, his true passion began to emerge.

“Firefighters have been a part of his life for as long as I can remember,” said Bev Eigenberg. Her son’s character plays a no-nonsense, veteran firefighter and family man, who doesn’t let the drama in the firehouse rattle his cage. That demeanor comes naturally to him, according to his mother. “He was very even-tempered as a child. He acted here and there as a teen, and landed some parts in productions based in the city,” said Eigenberg. “The director of one of those productions told him he had raw talent and was a good actor but he would become better if he became more polished.”

So, Eigenberg moved to New York, where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, eventually landing roles in “Six Degrees of Separation,” and “Sex and the City.” On September 11, 2001, Bev says her son couldn’t reach his best friend, a New York firefighter. So, he walked through the Brooklyn tunnel and through all of the destruction from the terrorist attacks until he did. She believes that experience also influences how he plays the role of Firefighter Herrmann. Bev says along his path, her son and a friend were scheduled to take a mandatory written test to become a New York firefighter. “The day before the appointment David got a part in a HBO movie.” Who knows? Maybe one day, Eigenberg will head out on a Chicago Fire Department fire truck wearing the CFD’s regulation uniform, rather than an actor’s costume.

N2013_08_01_032LARGEBrendan King—One Goal

What does it take to be an outstanding athlete? You may point to a competitive nature, good genes, great coaching, or a positive and sharply focused mental attitude. Those who know Chicago Fire soccer midfielder Brendan King would probably agree those factors all figured into his success in soccer. But King gives the most credit to one thing. In King’s words, “Practice, practice, practice.” The 23-year-old remembers having a ball at his feet from the time he was old enough to walk. Similarly, he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t practicing with his neighbor and friend, Brian Gaul. Gaul now lives in Los Angeles where he plays soccer for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Gaul said he and King were neighbors since they were 6 or 7 years old. The two also played club soccer together. “We used to train every day,” remembers Gaul. Initially, the friends played youth soccer in Naperville. But, when King was about 15 or 16 years old, things changed. “That’s when I decided to take the sport a little more seriously,” said King. At that point, coaches started talking to him about playing on more competitive youth soccer teams. As a result, King and Gaul stepped up their practice time. “We spent hours and hours training outside of our scheduled practice time,” says King.

The two athletes would spend a bulk of that time training together and working on their weak spots. “You would get mad at him when he beat you at something. It was a competitive atmosphere, in a strange way. Yet we remain the best of friends.”

King attended both Neuqua Valley High School and Benet Academy while living with his parents in Naperville. When he was 17 years old, he was given the chance to be part of the U.S. National Under 18 team competing for the World Cup. It meant he had to move to Florida and live away from his family for awhile. He accepted the challenge, graduated a semester early from a Florida high school and immediately began playing soccer at The University of Notre Dame.

King’s father was also a national soccer player. But, King says he never felt pressured to choose the same path. “Brendan’s father is definitely a pivotal influence on his career and his success because he had a strong soccer background. It fueled Brendan and me to be professionals,” said Gaul.

King admits pursuing his passion hasn’t always been easy. “I think every athlete goes through times when they second guess themselves. But, through the course of my career, I’ve stayed positive and I just stick to my goals,” saod King. In addition to family, King says his faith and his experiences at The University of Notre Dame both played a significant role in his life. “At Notre Dame, I trained with a lot of really good players and learned a lot from them and progressed from there.”


Waubonsie Valley High School

King describes himself as pretty laid back, a goofy guy, who can joke around and get along with people. Something he says he hopes to be doing while wearing number 16 for the Chicago Fire.

Mark Myers—The Sound of Success

If you didn’t know better, you would swear Waubonsie Valley High School Show Choir Director Mark Myers came out of his mother’s womb singing and playing piano. “He’s a natural born musician, a protégé from the beginning,” said Shelley Johnson, Myers’ high school music teacher and mentor from Auburn, Indiana. Myers grew up and attended elementary, middle and high school near Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Johnson remembers that even as a sophomore, she could ask him to lead part of the choir practice, and never worry that her students would be ready the next day.

So, it was no surprise to Johnson that Myers snagged the job of leading Waubonsie Valley’s Show Choir, Sound Check, at the young age of 24. Myers also went on to win a Grammy award and his choir group walked away as grand champions from every competition they entered. Despite all of those accomplishments, Myers measures success differently. “I just love working with kids. I love to watch them grow, and learn, and experience things.

Hopefully, most of them are positive. I love being part of that experience and watching it and hopefully sharing my influence with those kids. High school is so exciting, that bridge to being independent and self-sufficient. Where the child transforms into an adult,” said Myers.

Now 34 years old, Myers talks with such passion and enthusiasm, one gets drawn into his love for his students and his vocation. It truly seems to be a call, much more than a job, or a career. Myers has an older brother and an older sister, whom he says were both very active in sports. “Their children,” Myers says with a chuckle, “are now involved in show choirs, not sports.” Without hesitation, Myers says the most influential people in his life are his parents.

“First of all, they were just always so supportive of me. I think of them as the model parents in supporting my music and school activities.” That included lead roles in every high school musical. He fondly remembers being part of “The Music Man.” “Anything Goes,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “Damn Yankees.”

Myers continues to put his passion for music and theater into his work at Waubonsie High School. Johnson says there was never any question in her mind that Myers would be an outstanding teacher. “He has an incredible work ethic. He’s focused, compassionate. He’s firm and strong and doesn’t take any non-sense. But, they can tell he’s fair and he’s just really talented. You want to be around him,” said Johnson.