The Friars out-performed staunch competition from Latin School of Chicago and north suburban Lake Forest Academy.
On Saturday, February 25, at the Niles West State Math Regionals, Fenwick took first place and — for the 30th consecutive year — qualified all 33 members of itsMath Team for the State Math Finals. The finals will be held at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, in April. The top three Math Teams (with their scores):
Lake Forest Academy 832
Latin School 661
The Friars finished first in five of the ten events:
Algebra 2 Team
Oral Math Topic Team
Two-person Junior/Senior Team
Eight-person Freshman/Sophomore Team
In individual events, for the first time in the 43 years of the State Contest, Fenwick had two perfect scores: by Kyra Miller ’25 (Riverside, IL) in Geometry and Tuoyu “Toby” Yang ’24 (Oak Park, IL)in Algebra 2. Quinn Hynes ’23 (Western Springs, IL) also placed first in Pre-Calculus.
Congratulations to the entire team and their six coaches/moderators: Mrs. Brigid Esposito ’96, Mr. Roger Finnell ’59, Mrs. Bozena Kopf, Mrs. Maria Nowicki, Mr. Andrew Reuland ’94 and Ms. Diane Sabbia!
Alumnus Fr. Tom Logue ’11, who grew up in the Hinsdale, IL parish of St. Isaac Jogues, returned to Fenwick on January — to preach as a priest!
By Father Thomas Logue
My name is Fr. Thomas Logue, and I graduated from this school some 12 years ago now, and I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ just this past May.
It’s great being back in this way to celebrate this Mass. I was on Kairos with a couple of the alumni here who are my age, and many of my teachers from my time as a student are still here, which is awesome. If I recall correctly, I think in Latin class, Dr. Porter told us we wouldn’t use Latin all the much.
So, I’ve just got to say, Dr. Porter, as a priest I get to use Latin all the time: checkmate.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. And you might be wondering, “Okay, that’s cool, Father, but what’s with the gold thing you processed in with?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! My doctor happens to be a fellow alumn, and we have worked together in healing ministry; he lent me this relic of St. Paul — I believe it is a fragment of his bone. So we’re incredibly blessed that this real man will be with us as we come to worship the real Jesus together with him.
Now, as we look at what this man experienced, coming face-to-face with God the Son in resurrected human flesh, and who was struck blind for three days thence — all these amazing things — we have to remember that Luke — the guy who wrote this down — didn’t write it down for Paul:
“Hey, Paul, want to hear the story you told me again?” “Um, no.”
God, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write this down for me and for you, so that we might believe. It was all written for you ….
So, that begs the question: All this crazy stuff happened to this man that fundamentally changed him from a murderer of Christians into the greatest Christian witness the world has ever seen — okay.
But, what’s the import for me?
It all centers on the one question Paul asks of Jesus: “Who are You, Lord?” . . . “Who are You, Lord?”
Because, for Paul up to this point, before encountering Christ, if someone asked him, “Have you ever heard of Jesus? Who is He?” he’d ultimately say something like: “Jesus is just some dead nobody who’s keeping my life and my culture, even my worship, from what I want it to be. Just some dead nobody who’s caused me a lot of trouble.
But the genuine revelation of the Catholic faith says something quite different, otherwise this school wouldn’t exist; the Catholic faith wouldn’t exist.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the God who holds us in existence.
He is God the Son who took on my broken human flesh, calling first the Jewish people, and through them the whole world — me and you — back into relationship with the True and Living God, Himself. And, to do this, from our lowly human flesh, as God and as a Man, He made a perfect act of love to God the Father when He consecrated Himself a sacrifice for me and for you, and then died a torturous death by suffocation in crucifixion, and rose three days later.
“Who are You, Lord?”
But even from 13 years of Catholic schooling growing up, I feel like many, many of my peers, and even a few of my teachers, and me especially, if asked, not just on a theology test, but through the way you can really tell what someone believes — by how we live — if you asked us, “Who is Jesus?” and looked at how we live, our answers might correspond to something like:
“He’s just a good moral teacher, or maybe a revolutionary.”
Or, “He just asked us to be nice or something; He died, but He didn’t rise from the dead — He’d have to be like, God or something, lol.”
Or, “He was just a made up idea that helps people be kind.”
In our culture, and in a culture like this, when we reject Christ, we don’t usually reject Christ outright. We make a new Christ that fits my view of things. And, as a priest who I know says, “that is a very effective way of murdering Jesus Christ, to change Him to suit our own desires.” It’s not the real Jesus we talk about when we do this. We are just making up our own.
And what I felt — and some of you might know what I’m talking about, though I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about — I felt like, ironically, the Catholic culture for me growing up, and the apathy I experienced towards the faith and towards our Lord in it, which seemed louder than the Gospel — that it almost vaccinated me against Catholicism.
You might be thinking, “Vaccinated?” You know, with old school vaccines (not the new mRNA stuff) if you want to make someone immune to something that is very contagious, what you do is you take the contagious thing, you isolate it, you kill it, and then you inject the dead thing into the person, so that when they encounter the real thing out in the world, their system just says, “Oh, I know what that is, and it’s not for me.”
But what have we done the past few generations with our Catholic faith but this very thing? We isolate the fullness of the faith and the real Jesus, we give to our young people a dead, seriously deficient version of the faith, and we’re surprised they don’t practice it — when in fact we’ve vaccinated them against it.
We do this to our Catholic faith, and this has happened to many of us here. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
Well, this was the message I got — that it’s moderately important: like basketball or a TV show. And since this, sadly, is how many of us were raised, when confronted with Christianity and the real Jesus who calls us to repent, who calls us to change — when, in fact, we don’t want to repent; when we don’t want to change — what do we do but try and invent our own Christ.
But, tragically, we know that when we invent our own Christ, that our own “Jesus” is totally impotent; that “my Jesus” is powerless to save or forgive me; that when I erect my own “Jesus,” in my own image, the only person I worship is me. And, if I’m honest, I am powerless to save myself … and so I lock myself within my own heart.
But the real Jesus, who comes knocking on the door of our locked hearts — the One who appeared to Paul — we know and believe that He can actually do something about my life. This Man who conquered death and is alive right now, with real Blood flowing through real veins as He sits at the right hand of the Father — that He can heal me; He can save me. He comes full of mercy, full of peace, forgiveness, with genuine meaning (not the futile self-fabricated kind) — real, genuine, objective meaning from the Person who is Truth Incarnate Himself — He offers this for those who will receive Him as Lord, as Master and as Savior.
Ask Him, “Who are you, Lord?”
In my own practice of the faith, my parents went to Mass, and though I felt an affection for the Lord, the liturgy and prayer in childhood (I was even considering priesthood non-stop since I was 5), as I got into junior high and the sort of vaccination I received against Catholicism began to take effect, along with my difficulties with some of my peers and distance from my family, I began to, like Paul, frame Jesus as someone else than who He really is:
“Maybe he’s just a good teacher, probably not God,” I pondered. But this was just a cover for the fact that, even though I was interested in Jesus, I doubted that He could really be interested in me. I felt rather unloved and unwanted, and began to paint the lies on my heart over the face of God.
By the time I got into high school here at Fenwick, I was pretty convinced I was an atheist, and that Christianity was some weird scheme or money grab; it was just something I had to just endure and put up with until I graduated. But through the testimony of the priest who taught me freshman year, I began just to crack open the door of my heart, and a little bit of light began to shine into my darkness. I was beginning to believe. And, at the time, although I was dead scared of going to confession, I felt tugged towards it, and it terrified me.
My sophomore year, I was sitting next to my atheist friend up in the front row of the nosebleed seats here in the Auditorium when all-school confessions were being heard, and I finally overcame that fear and, by the grace of God, returned to confession for the first time in 9 years. It was incredible.
But I was still clinging to sin in my life, and it was slowly eating away at me. It wasn’t until my senior year about this time of year, actually — that things came to a head.
I went on the Kairos retreat and had such a profound encounter with the real Jesus that all I could do was weep on the floor in my bedroom, overwhelmed by this love I hadn’t known before, but was utterly familiar, and had been present all my life, in all of my pain. And laying prostrate before the crucifix in my room (like I saw one of the Dominicans do at his ordination), I looked up at the cross through tear-blurred eyes and said, “I will do whatever You want me to do, Jesus, just tell me what it is.”
Well, spoiler — He made that pretty clear.
Needing the Lord
But, due to my surrounding myself with less than quality friends, the following week (again, about this time of the year), I got in some very big trouble in pretty much every aspect of my life. Got 15 detentions and demerits. I was in trouble in school and out of school; it was a huge mess. I bet you didn’t think a priest alum would say something like that!
I realized through the experience of my big mess up that some ofthe friends I thought were my best friends that I had invested in for 6+ years were in fact just using me. And in my hunger for acceptance, after naming the serious wounds of rejection I’d felt for years, I found myself drifting further and further from the Lord.
Players from Fenwick’s 1962 undefeated (10-0) football team share fond memories of their coaches/mentors.
Introduction by Mark Vruno
Tree leaves from 60 autumns have fallen since the mighty Fenwick football team of 1962 went undefeated and claimed the City of Chicago’s “Prep Bowl” title. With 10 wins and zero losses that season, the Friars outscored their opponents 313 to 32 — quite a dominant margin of victory! The Chicago Sun-Times named Fenwick as the No. 1 football team in the area that year.
Readers may remember that this was in the era before Illinois instituted the state-playoff system for high schools, so the parochial-school champion squaring off against the public-school champ was a big deal in the city. How big? The Chicago Tribune day-after headline read: “91,328 See Fenwick Rout Schurz, 40-0.” A staggering 15 players from that team went on to play Division 1 college football.
Sixty seasons later, 11 team members woke up some echoes from the past and share memories of their five coaches:
John Jardine (head coach)
Rudy Gaddini ’53 (backfield coach)
Future Hall of Famer Jack Lewis (line coach)
Tony Lawless (then the school’s athletic director)
Dan O’Brien ’34 (freshman football coach and athletic trainer).
The Coaching Staff
After Fenwick, John Jardine (1935-1990) served as the head football coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1970 to 1977, compiling a record of 37-47-3. Jardine’s best season came in 1974, when his Badgers went 7-4 and placed fourth in the Big Ten Conference. Noteworthy was the Badgers’ 21-20 victory over the perennial powerhouse Nebraska during the second week of the season.
Jardine was a graduate of Purdue, where he was a starting guard in 1956 and ’57. He began his coaching career at Central Catholic High School in Lafayette, IN, in 1958, then moved to the head coaching job at Fenwick HS. His five teams at Fenwick produced an overall 51-6-1 record and the Friars played in the Chicago Catholic League title game in 1959, 1961 and 1962.
Jardine left the prep ranks following the 1963 season, returning to Purdue as an offensive line coach under Jack Mollenkopf. He coached the guards and centers and recruited the Chicago area. He then served as offensive line coach under Tommy Prothro at UCLA from 1965 to 1969. He became Wisconsin’s head football coach in December 1969. (Source: Wikipedia)
Post-Fenwick, Rudy Gaddini ’53 served as the head football coach at the now defunct Milton College in Milton, WI, from 1970-81, compiling a record of 61-43-5. (The college closed in 1982.) A native of Chicago, Gaddini attended Fenwick, where he was an All-State fullback. He moved on to Michigan State University, where he played college football for the Spartans in 1955 and ’56. (Source: Wikipedia)
The late Jack Lewis ’40, a U.S. Marine who served in the South Pacific during World War II, was known for his discipline, according to his 2000 obituary in the Chicago Tribune. After coaching at his high school alma mater in Oak Park, Lewis took control of a struggling football program at Immaculate Conception Catholic High School in Elmhurst, IL, in 1967. Over the course of 25 years, he built a powerhouse that earned respect statewide. Coach Lewis was inducted into the Illinois High School Hall of Fame in 1987. Two years later, he was named to the Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame and, in 1992, was awarded the Notre Dame Club of Chicago’s Frank Leahy Prep Coach Award.
The lateDan O’Brien ’34was part of Tony Lawless’s football coaching staff for 34 years. His Fenwick freshman teams compiled 20 undefeated seasons in the rumbling, tumbling Chicago Catholic League (CCL). Ever versatile, O’Brien also was Fenwick’s head swimming and diving coach – a title he kept for 23 years. In the pool during that time, the Friars won 23 consecutive CCL titles under “the Dobber’s” leadership. His teams were undefeated in dual meets: 325-0. They lost only one invitational (64-1).
Much has been written about Fenwick sports legend Anthony R. “Tony” Lawless, who was the first layperson hired by the Dominican friars in 1929 to direct the athletics’ program at then-new (all-boys) Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL. Lawless graduated from Spalding Institute in Peoria, IL, in 1924. He played on the Fighting Irish’s national Catholic high school championship basketball team that year, before moving to Chicago to attend college at Loyola University. He later was inducted into Loyola’s Hall of Fame for both basketball and football. On the gridiron, Lawless played running back when Loyola and DePaul still had football teams.
Nearly 45 years have passed since Mr. Lawless died. For nearly half a century, the man worked for the students of Fenwick and the school since its inception. In addition to the old gymnasium bearing his name, Coach Lawless also has Chicago Catholic League annual awards named in his honor. (See the links below to read about his athletics/coaching prowess at Fenwick.)
Voices still echo in their minds
Memories of John Jardine from lineman George Vrechek ’63: “Even though Coach Jardine was only 24 years old when he arrived at Fenwick in 1959, he earned our respect quickly. If he said to do something on the football field, that’s what we tried to do. He was fair, tough and competitive, and he also had a sense of humor that surfaced on rare occasions. It got so that if he had a crew cut, we thought a crew cut was the way to go. If he had his hands a certain way coming back from communion, that’s the way we thought you should do it.
“During my senior year, the Chicago Sun-Times quoted Coach Jardine saying something surprisingly flattering about my blocking and tackling abilities. I saw him in school the next day, and he quietly told me with a very slight smile, ‘Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers.’
“Coach Gaddini has been great attending our prior 1962 team reunions, staying in touch with the players and returning to Fenwick for the Golden Friars gatherings. Somehow, we have gotten closer in age. The winged-T offense he installed confused our opponents. Guys came at you from every direction. Not knowing any other offenses, we didn’t fully appreciate whatever those guys were doing in the backfield at the time. We enjoyed running the ball.”
Jim DiLullo ‘63, All-American fullback and Chicago Sun-Times “Prep Player of the Year” in 1962: “I was always envious of Coach Jardine’s ability to whistle so loudly. He didn’t use a coach’s whistle.
“As a running back goes, Coach Gaddini handled our drills. One enlightened expression has made me smile all these 60 years — Rudy: ‘I don’t mind, and you don’t matter.’ So many times, I used this in life experiences.
“Tony Lawless was properly named. Everything he did and said was his law — and not a veritable concept, such as boxing selections. I always loved the December 1 news photo of the start of my 97-yard sprint. His arms and hands went up to convey a prayer that no one throw a block or clip any longer because, if I didn’t trip, no one could catch me.
“Jack Lewis was a special kind of individual experience. Once while talking to my father and me, he mentioned that ‘I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUN THE PLAY AS DRAWN ON PAPER WITH Os AND Xs.’ I smiled and kind of told him that running plays generate their own ‘field of possibilities.’ Sometimes the opportunities just appear. He definitely was a ‘lineman coach’ who rode a driving sled. I was very relieved that Rudy was my coach. Every play in our book was [designed] to SCORE A TOUCHDOWN … NO MATTER WHAT.
“No one person could be more caring than Dan O’Brien. He watched our health and well-being. One August night after summer practice, he called my parents to see if I was eating ‘OK’ because weighing out and in I had lost over 10 pounds of water weight. Yikes! Another hot day at practice. He cared!”
Tim Wengierski ’63, All-State halfback, shares some thoughts about Gaddini, Lawless and O’Brien: “A few days after we won the Prep Bowl, he walked up to the gym open microphone. After a long pause, Rudy said, ‘I can only express the crescendo in my heart.’ There was instant jubilation in the packed gym! Coach Rudy was a terrific person in many ways, always a gentleman.
“Coach Tony Lawless [was] a great athlete, mentor and athletic director. He was always ‘on duty’ and ran a tight ship. I can hear him say, ‘Please boys — move along,’ with his hand at the belly button level!
“Coach Dan O’Brien was a great trainer and coach extraordinaire! While he was taping my ankle during the first few weeks of school, he asked my name. I answered Tim Wengierski. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘if you are half as good an athlete as your Dad, Ray, or Uncle Julius, we are very glad to have you at Fenwick!’”
Ken Hayes ’65 was a sophomore at the time: “I spent a couple summers working at Fenwick for Carl, our maintenance manager, and Tony Lawless. A nice place to work, but the pay was only $1.00 an hour. One weekend Tony invited myself and John Stapleton to his summer house on the Fox River to paint his home. As you might expect, it was fairly difficult to say no to Tony — if we wanted to continue our football career.
“We got to see the other side of Tony: a family man who loved playing with his grandchild, went swimming and was truly relaxing — and getting a great deal on his house painting! We finished early on Sunday and Tony lined us up with a neighbor to take us water skiing. There was a ski jump on the river, and his neighbor gave me instructions on how navigate the jump, since this was my first time. I made the jump, just barely! However, I did not see Tony screaming on the pier, ‘Hayes, you better not try the jump and break your leg! Football practice starts in a week.’ I did get another lecture from Tony later, but I was so happy I cleared the jump; it truly was worth it!”
John Gorman ’63, quarterback: “John (Jardine) was way ahead of the curve in 1961-63. We had a scouting department (Norris, Maddox and Shannon). They would break down film, and I would meet with them on one night during the week. Senior year, he allowed me to change plays, on occasion, on offense, and more so, on defense, where they had plotted certain schemes, for situations, especially against St. Rita.
“We prepared the way colleges were preparing, and with John being 26 and most of us just turning 18, we became friends. When I graduated, John got me a screen test in Hollywood, when he was an assistant at UCLA, under Tommy Protho. I wasn’t discovered, so back to Chicago, to prepare for the draft … not football, but the Army, but it never happened.
“John was the assistant basketball coach, under Bill Shay, and when we played Loyola, they would play a suffocating man-to-man, and Colleran, a great defender, would be my biggest challenge, all year. John would cover me in practice, all week, beat the cr*p out of me, to help us prepare for the game.
“A mentor, a friend, a great coach, and a wonderful man, who left us way too early! He allowed me, as a kid, to have an opinion, that occasionally was put into action, which was a great confidence builder, that allowed me to work hard, and not be afraid to fail. John Jardine was a winner, a man of high character, and his footprint, is all over our championship season!
“Dan O’Brien was our freshman football coach, and Sitz [future U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ken Sitzberger ’63] showed up, on day one, and wanted to be a quarterback. He wasn’t about to let the best diver in the nation waste his time and get hurt, while he coached the swimming team. He was told that he could show up every day, but he would never play one minute!
“Rudy (Gaddini) was a terrific athlete and expected things to come easily as it did for him. He would push you, to reach your capability, in a manner that was quiet, supportive, but always efficient. He was big on stay calm, preserve your energy, and don’t over-think, but react! A great role model, coach and friend!
“On the Friday, before the Prep Bowl, I was in the training room, getting taped by Dan, and talking to Rudy. In walks Tony, and remember, everyone would get very quiet, when Tony Lawless, entered a room — out of respect and some amount of fear. Tony says to Rudy, ‘Hey boy, who sent Gorman to that interview, on television?’ Rudy said, ‘Coach, you’ll have to talk to John.’ In walks Jardine, who gets the same question. John’s answer was the show asked to interview the quarterbacks from both teams! Tony was not happy, and said, ‘Next time, send a lineman!’ However, he looked at me, and said, ‘Go do your job tomorrow!’
“How fortunate we were to have such wonderful role models.”
Matt Hayes ’63, lineman: “During the middle of our football season, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. Not only were we talking about our football season but also about the future of our country. One day after practice, Coach Jardine advised us that Coach Gaddini was called up by the reserves for active duty. We were all shook up by that news. We now knew someone close to us that was actually involved in the crisis. Fortunately, the crisis passed and Coach Gaddini returned to coach our football team and help us win the Prep Bowl. Coach was proud to coach our team and proud to serve his country. Thank you, Coach Gaddini!”
Jim Daniels ’63: “John Jardine was always slow with a compliment when we were out on the field. He completely surprised me in the hallway, the day after we finished the senior play (Fenwick’s first musical). ‘Didn’t know you could do that,’ he said, ‘Good job.’
“I found out later, he sought me out, rather than a chance meeting.
“Jack Lewis was always gruff and had a tough visage. My sophomore year in college, he took over a local family bar and became head football coach at Immaculate Conception High. He learned I was playing football at Brown and invited me: a) to a come to the evening workouts of his team and run with the punt teams and b) drop in and ask for advice/company whenever I was near his place. It turned out to be a pleasure to do both.”
Denny DeLarco ’63: “During a practice, Coach Jardine had me running halfback plays and ran me about six consecutive times. (I was totally gassed.) Needless to say, I was getting rather slow and Coach Jardine said to me, ‘You’re running like an elephant backwards. Pick it the hell up.’ So, I dug down deeper than deep. My number was called, and I sped through the ‘D’ all the way. Coach J. said, ‘Guess you got it … just need a little goose.’ What a motivator!
Richard Ambrosino ’64: “Coach Gaddini and I reconnected when I was the head football coach at DC Everest HS in Schofield, Wisconsin. My star QB Dave Krieg played QB for coach at Milton College. Dave ended up playing for [NFL teams] Seattle, Arizona, Detroit, Chicago and Tennessee for a total of 19 years. At the same time, I reconnected with Coach Jardine when he was the head coach at Wisconsin and sent him my All-State players. Thanks, coaches!”
Mike Barry ’64: “John (Jardine) was bigger than life. I was in awe of him. I wanted to be a football coach after my sophomore year. Years later I got a call from Coach congratulating me on being the 1990 National Champions at Colorado. We laughed and remembered Fenwick years. Then the following March, his heart transplant rejected.” [Editor’s note: NFL coach Joe Barry, Mike’s son, is the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator.]
Dan Dinello ’64, halfback: “John Jardine elicited my respect as well as fear, especially when I was an insecure junior on the 1962 varsity team. He epitomized the sign on his office wall: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ His gruff-voiced criticism of my blocking in spring practice really stung. Later, he held the blocking dummy and coached me after practice. He worked hard to make me better.
“As a junior, I was grateful for the attention. It made me work harder to improve and to earn his approval. Coach Jardine also knew my financial situation: The only reason I could afford to attend Fenwick was because my mother, Mary, worked as a cleaning person in the sophomore section, so I attended tuition-free. He also knew I didn’t own spiked football shoes. He sent me out to buy a pair and paid for them. This showed that he cared about me. Coach Jardine used clichés like, ‘Play with reckless abandon,’ so I wanted to do that and impress him. Despite the tough exterior, Coach Jardine cared about all his players. He demanded good grades as fiercely as he demanded good blocking.”
Fr. Richard LaPata, O.P.’50: “I was privileged to be the main celebrant at Dan O’Brien’s funeral Mass at Ascension Church in Oak Park. Standing at the altar, I watched his coffin being carried in by eight Fenwick students, boys and girls wearing Fenwick letter sweaters. I must admit that I choked up a bit before I could start the Mass: a fitting tribute to a man who loved the school and its students his whole life to the end.”
Walter McCarty ’63: “I was a swimmer. Dan O’Brien was the swim coach and trainer. Somehow, I was roped into filming the games. We had a meeting with Jardine at the beginning of the season. Coach was very adamant that he wanted Gherke and me to ‘follow the ball!’
“After the first game, we were summoned to the coaches’ office. Jardine was apoplectic. He ran the first kick off on the screen.
“’Who took this?’ he asked me. ‘What are you doing here?’ as he pointed to the screen!
“‘Just following the ball like you asked ….’ I had followed the football alright, up in the air!
“One of the things not everyone knew about O’Brien, was that every season he would invite the freshman swimming team from the University of Illinois to swim against us at a private meet at Fenwick. Every year they would arrive ready to kick our [butts]. And every year we would send them home with their tails between their legs. I asked Mr. O’Brien why their coach kept coming back?
“O’B said it was because he needed to show his All-American prospects they could be beaten. When we left Fenwick, the swimming team hadn’t lost a dual meet in some 30 years!
“That was Dan O’ Brien …”
NEWSPAPER HEADLINES & PHOTO GALLERY
Some gridiron shots from the Blackfriars 1962-63 Yearbook:
Senior Demi Ovalle is conference POY; alumna Liz (Perry) Timmons ’04 goes to state for first time as a head coach.
Last weekend in the pool, the Fenwick girls’ water polo team (23-6-1) defeated Northside College Prep, Oak Park-River Forest and then York High School (Elmhurst, IL) to win the IHSA Sectional championship and head to state! The Friars the Dukes of York 10-9, holding the lead the entire fouth quarter. The girls play in the state quarter-finals at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20, at Stevenson HS (Lincolnshire, IL) against the host Patriots.
Fenwick student-athlete Demi Ovalle ’22 (Chicago) has been selected as an all-Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference player as well as a member of the All-Sectional 1st team. Teammates Linden Gierstorf ’22 (Oak Park, IL) andAnnie McCarthy ’23 (Elmhurst) also were named to the MCAC and Sectional 1st teams. MCAC 2nd-team selections are Xiomara Trejo ’24 (Chicago) andPamela Medina ’23 (Chicago); at the Sectional Tournament, Trejo made the 2nd team and Medina was honorable mention. Additionally, Ovalle is the MCAC Girls Senior Player of the Year!
Stay tuned in, says Head Coach Liz Timmons, a 2004 alumna of Fenwick, because “we are still waiting on [the] All-State and All-American lists.”
2022 Friars are small but mighty
Both varsity and JV levels have proven themselves in the pool throughout the season, reports Coach Timmons, “even though they have played many games without or with very few substitutions.” Leading the team are seniors Ovalle, Gierstorf, Naomi Szczeblowski (Berwyn, IL), Christina Mireles (Cicero, IL ) and Elizabeth Mack (Chicago). The varsity season started strong with a win at the Naperville North Tournament and continued with wins at the Fenwick Quad and Fremd tourneys. Other notable games for included the Friars’ crushing defeat of cross-town rivals OPRF and beating MCAC rivals St. Ignatius, Mother McAuley and Loyola Academy. (Check scores for all of the Friars games throughout the varsity season.)
JV also has had an incredible season, finishing 4th at JV MCAC. All players demonstrated a lot of improvement, their coach notes with a smile. There were many close games, including a tough, one-goal win against Loyola.
Szczeblowski (in formal gown, below), who suffered a season-ending injury, showed up to support her team on her prom night for their 8:45 p.m. Sectional game last Friday. “It truly shows how dedicated this team is to each other and how much they want to see each other succeed,” praises Timmons. “They have set a goal and have been working toward it all season. We are excited to show everyone what we can do here at the end.”
For this year’s Women’s History Month, basketball alumna and Fenwick Broadcasting Club founder shares how Frair teachers guided her along a career path to sports journalism.
By Karli Bell ’12
Two years ago, an icon in the basketball world passed away unexpectedly. Kobe Bryant’s death was something that shook the sports world and shook me to my core. I lost an icon, a coach and a hero. Then, I had to go on air and talk about this in my sportscast.
I broke down. I tried to hold in the tears and emotions. But to me, I had a hole.
I spent upwards of 10 years on the hardwood. It was the one sport that I loved to my core (and still do) for a few reasons. I loved the constant flow of the game, having constant action, the selflessness, the mental challenges.
But it’s also the only sport that is gender equal when it comes to the core of the game. The only differences in women’s and men’s basketball are the size of the ball and the number of steps allowed to travel. It was a game that I could play with anyone, anytime and, really, anywhere. Growing up as the only girl on a Northwest-side Chicago block, it was a classic staple in my alleyway.
My time as an athlete is a time that forever shaped me. It taught me discipline, teamwork, selflessness, confidence and to put in 110 percent in everything you do. Work ethic is everything. If you put your mind to it, you truly can accomplish anything you want to do.
When I ended my time as a basketball player, the world of sports had such an impact on me that I couldn’t just leave. Basketball and sports saved my life, in all honesty. It brought me so much confidence, empowerment and boosted my self-esteem. I couldn’t leave this space; that’s when I found sports journalism and media.
Sitting in Mr. Arellano’s speech class is when I wanted to start working on my craft. I would ask him for advice on how to fix my delivery, my presence, if I had any nervous ticks. I wanted any and all feedback. He answered every bothersome, annoying question I had. He was the first teacher I went to when I ‘pitched’ what is now the Fenwick Broadcasting Club.
Fenwick was training camp. I spent hours in Mr. Paulett’s basement English classroom, editing videos with makeshift software. I was in the tech office, reading a Microsoft Word script off a laptop to a small little camcorder or interviewing classmates about school events. I would post countless Facebook posts to promote viewership, as I’m now learning was maybe a bit too much. (Sorry, guys!)
I put all my effort into it, just how I used to put all my effort into basketball. Work ethic, confidence, selflessness, teamwork, discipline, communication, creativity. I learned all that on the basketball court. It all translates. Those times on the court are memories that stick.
Flash forward to now 10 years later: That work ethic translated to being in a top-three sports market before age 30. Communication transferred into networking and building a list of professional contacts. Creativity shows in countless stories,videos and photos. Discipline, teamwork and selflessness is used every day in the workplace.
Life lessons are learned on a court, field, diamond, track and mat. Sports are impactful. They have a profound influence on youth, but particularly little girls. Basketball showed I’m equal. The only thing that mattered was how you play the game. Let the work and practice speak for itself, which would be the best way for me to enter a male-dominated field.
Sports showed me a rigor and fire in myself that I couldn’t find anywhere else. They gave me a social circle and group of friends that every tomboy girl needs. They challenged me constantly, both mentally and physically. You learn respect for authority, to listen, to analyze; all of these being valuable lessons that were first learned on the court.
As Women’s History Month 2022 continues, we give a shout out to Mary Kate Callahan ’13 (of La Grange, IL), who made IHSA history nine years ago.
At Fenwick’s Fall Sports Recognition Night on November 15, 2021, Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 introduced a special, guest speaker:
Mary Kate has been navigating life on four wheels for as long as she can remember. At five months old, a virus attacked her spinal cord, leaving her a paraplegic. Now, at 26, she has been around the world racing triathlons, advocating for what she believes in, and mentoring people of all abilities.
Mary Kate has crossed numerous finish lines; spending 11 years racing on U.S. National Team in the sport of paratriathlon, running marathons, and even breaking the course record at Ironman Louisville. She enjoys educating and spending time with people to show them how the fitness industry can be adapted for all types of athletes. Mary Kate has a passion for helping others find their own starting line to tap into their own potential and inner athlete.
Further, Mary Kate is the reason the IHSA holds a State Series for athletes with disabilities! As a student at Fenwick, she stood in front of the IHSA advocating on behalf of athletes with disabilities. As a result of her efforts, there is now a State Series in place. Mary Kate was actually the first to compete at State! In my 18 years at Fenwick, she is the toughest, most determined, resilient athlete I have seen.
Ms. Callahan spent a few minutes addressing the Friar student-athletes in attendance in the Auditorium, helping them to keep their sports lives in perspective. Her remarks answered three key questions that she encourages all athletes to ask themselves:
Did I try my absolute best — no matter what cards were handed to me each day?
Did I show up for people and help bring out the best in them when I had the chance?
A non-profit organization founded by a Fenwick alumnus from Oak Park is helping to advance literacy in the Chicago area.
By Franklin Taylor ’15, president and executive director of Our Future Reads
During the pandemic, I graduated from college. At the same time, I received a Fulbright Grant to go to Germany and teach English — a dream that I have had since my Fenwick German classes with Frau Strom and our German Club trip to the country. Since the pandemic pushed back this opportunity, I was able to find a job as a data analyst while I waited.
One day while working from home, I glanced around my room and pondered what to do about the giant mountain of books I had accumulated from attending Fenwick and Bowdoin College over the years. Some of the books I had really enjoyed reading, but others I would never pick up again. I thought “Do I throw these out? Who throws out books? Can I give these to someone who would enjoy them? Where can I even donate books in the area?”
These thoughts led me to reflect on the junior-year service projects we got to do as students at Fenwick. These memories motivated me to look on the Internet for places that would take in books for adult readers. To my surprise, I could only find organizations looking for children’s books. Since I was unable to find much information, I felt my Friar spirit kick in and marched down the field to do something about it. That is when the idea for Our Future Reads was born. I thought, if I have this problem, then I am sure many others share this problem, too. Instead of finding an organization to donate these books, I decided to do it myself.
Our mission statement at Our Future Reads is: For those that are curious, be curious! Through books, curiosity is born. People say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ we say it’s fine to do that, as long as you took the first step in picking it up. Our Future Reads is here to make sure thosewithout readily available access to books get an opportunity to read whatever piques their curiosity.
I learned many things at Fenwick, and the most important was to help others when you can; and at Our Future Reads we are doing exactly that. In just eight months, Our Future Reads has collected over 10,000 new and gently used books, established relationships with a number of other charitable organizations in and around Chicago, and donated over 2,200 books to people in need. Brian Heuss, a fellow Fenwick Football teammate and Class of 2015 alum, as well as [my brother] Jared Taylor (see below), Class of 2019, are on the board of the organization along with a good friend from OPRF. Class of 2015, Matthew Herbst. We have received amazing support from individuals and other local organizations who have conducted book drives to help Our Future Reads build its inventory to accomplish its mission to redistribute books to those in need.
Help us achieve our goal of increasing the literacy rate in the Chicagoland area by donating. If you, or your child or grandchild who is currently a Fenwick student, would like to hold a book drive to support our inventory at Our Future Reads, please reach out to me via email. For any more information, you can explore our website.
Let the Curious, Be Curious … and Let’s Go Friars!
The Friars’ championship football run in November brought great joy to a loyal alumnus and American hero on his final days.
Friar alumnusVernon Breen ’44 passed away on December 14, 2021. A year ago in the Fenwick Alumni News (FAN e-newsletter), we wrote about then 95-year-old Mr. Breen, who had been recognized by the Chicago Bears as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” in 2020. Sgt. Breen served in the U.S. Army during World War II, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped to liberate the Dachau concentration camp — receiving a Bronze Star for his heroics.
On December 13, 2021, one of Mr. Breen’s grandsons wrote via email to Head Football Coach Matt Battaglia:
Dear Coach Battaglia,
Congratulations on a very successful season and winning the state championship. Our grandfather, Vernon Cecil Breen is an alum of Fenwick high school, he graduated in 1944 and is still a die hard Friar fan. After graduation, Vernon was drafted to serve in WWII. After his service he returned home and worked at Central Ink Corporation and moved to Glen Ellyn.
Your team’s football season brought much joy to him this year. He keeps us up to date on the Friar’s athletics, though his main love is the football team. The last couple of months his health has declined, but was still able to watch the Friars win the state title game. My father in law said after the game was over, our grandfather was humming the fight song.
We wanted to share how much he still cares about the school and football team. Thank you for bringing him some much needed enjoyment. Best of luck in the future and again congratulations on a tremendous year. Go Friars!
P.S. – Vernon has the flag proudly hanging in his bedroom! (See below.)
The coach’s response that same day:
Thank you for sharing! This is such a great story and really humbling for me as a coach to realize something as simple as a football game can bring so much joy to those around us.
I hope Vernon is continuing to feel better! Could you please share with me a mailing address? I would love to send him a note signed by the team.
Then, on December 15, Vern’s daughter, Maureen, followed up with this note:
Dear Coach Battaglia,
I would like to add my congratulations to you and the Friars as well.
The state championship did bring a lot of joy to my dad. Sadly, he passed away yesterday. But we are so happy for him that one of the last things that he was able to enjoy was the state championship. You mentioned in your email that something as “simple as football” could bring so much joy. Sports is always about so much more than a simple game, something I learned in 1960, when at 5 years old, my dad began bringing me to Fenwick football games.
We attended several games a year, and those were treasured moments that I will never forget. I remember the first game I attended, taking in the stadium, and the excitement of the crowd. I had never seen a football game before and I had a million questions. I can still see that sunny fall afternoon in my head and the very moment when he explained to me what a first and ten was. From that day on, football, the Friars and sports in general was something that I loved sharing with my dad. I think that my family is not alone with that concept. Football and sports creates bonds, not just among teammates, but among the fans as well.
Again, congratulations. My dad was always proud to be a Friar.
Maureen Breen Barunas
Before Fenwick, Mr. Breen attended Horace Mann School and was a St. Giles parishioner. For four years, he was an avid participant intramural athletics while he was a Friar student.
In the fall ’21 Friar Reporter(page 16), we reported that alumnus Dr. Tord Alden ’85 was hired into informatics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (Chicago) by fellow Fenwick Friar Dr. Michael Kelleher ’75, a pediatrician who spent 17 years at Lurie (Children’s Memorial).
In 2020, Dr. Kelleher became the chief medical officer of Amita Health (Mercy Medical Center, Aurora, IL). For 11 months he chaired the COVID-19 Vaccine Steering Committee, which administered more than 50,000 doses to area health-care workers, first responders and patients.
“I had Roger Finnell for four years,” remembers Dr. Kelleher. “Roger [Fenwick Class of ’59] was a young man when I was at Fenwick. He is a wonderful math teacher and a great human being! I still remember what ‘e to the pi I’ equals.” [Euler’s formula: e^(i pi) = -1]
Kelleher also ran track and cross country for Coach John Polka for four years. “Mr. Polka was my biology teacher, too. These two men had a formative influence over me,” he notes, adding that, in the early 1970s, he was taking “regular and honors classes, which they now call AP [advanced placement], I think.”
Sneezing into med school
Graduating in three years from Northwestern University (Evanston) with a B.A. in biology, Kelleher went on to the University of Minnesota to earn a master’s degree in ecology. His study emphasis was on population genetics and statistics, but severe allergic reactions forced him to change his mind. “I had terrible allergies and couldn’t do the field work,” the doctor recalls.
Kelleher had thought about pursuing medicine in the past, and he received his M.D. in 1986 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine (Urbana and Rockford, IL). His post-graduate training took place at Wyler Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, where he competed a residency, became chief resident and was a Pediatric Critical Care Fellow (1990-93). He also served for five years on U of C’s faculty.
Before coming home to Chicago, Dr. Kelleher spent five years in Iowa City as the head of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Once at Lurie (Children’s Memorial), he progressed up the ranks, first handling electronic medical record implementation and ascending to chief medical officer from 2003-19.
“My values were formed at Fenwick High School,” Dr. Kelleher insists, citing the service ‘mission’ of Catholic education as being integral to his experience. “There, our teachers inculcated us to provide service to others. They said that it should be a goal in life.” It’s no coincidence, he says, that several of his ’75 Friar classmates also went into the medical field.