The 2022 IHSA Girls’ Tennis 1A state quarterfinal and semifinal rounds take place Friday morning at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
“The season, to this point, has been one for the record books,” reports Head Coach Gerard Sullivan. His Friars have:
won titles atthree invitationals.
an undefeated GCAC regular season followed by a repeat of the GCAC conference tournament title.
a perfect score at the IHSA Sectional, which was hosted by Timothy Christian (the team that tied the Friars for third in state last season).
The six players at state are seniors Maeve Paris and Kate Trifilio, junior Trinity Hardin, and sophomores Rachel Abraham, Lily Brecknock (pictured above, top) and Megan Trifilio.
“Five of the players are back from last year’s state team,” reports Coach Sully, “with the addition of Lily, whose results this year at #1 singles have earned the #1 seed in the 1A state tournament draw. Her singles ‘partner,’ Megan, has also had impressive results, and is seeded #4 in singles. Both doubles’ teams are seeded in the draw as well: Hardin / Trifilio in the #5-8 group and Paris / Abraham in the #9-16 group.”
Let’s go, Friars! Bring that 1A state title home to Oak Park!
Introduction by Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99:
A junior hooper and All-State runner offers a student-athlete reflection.
Junior Bella Daley came to Fenwick High School from St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest. Bella has run cross country and track while playing basketball in the winter. Her hard work and determination showed up in early November when she finished 23rd in state, earning All-State cross-country status!
By Bella Daley ’23 (Oak Park, IL)
‘Once a Friar, always a Friar.’ It’s likely that this motto rings a bell for many of you. As the sixth Daley to attend Fenwick High School, I was very familiar with what it meant to be a Friar even before I walked into the Atrium on my first day of high school. My family and I would pile into our 12-passenger van almost every weekend to watch my siblings represent Fenwick proudly. We traveled to track and cross-country meets, football games, wrestling tournaments and music competitions. I looked forward to the day when I could finally wear a uniform with the Dominican shield.
That day arrived three years ago, and as a current student and athlete at Fenwick, I have learned a lot about what it means to wear a Fenwick uniform in the classroom and on the field, track and court. To be a Friar means that when you walk into school, you are greeted with a smile, a ‘good morning’ and. oftentimes, a ‘put your lanyards on.’ When you leave school, Fr. Peddicord acknowledges you by name because he knows each of the 1,200 students in the school.
Being a member of the Fenwick community has allowed me to strive for excellence both within and outside of the classroom. It was a privilege to represent Fenwick at the IHSA cross country state meet this season. I am extremely thankful for the support that I have received from the Fenwick community who has encouraged me along the way.
I would like to conclude by congratulating all of the fall athletes on tremendous seasons. With two top-three finishes at state, three sectional champions, six regional wins and multiple All-State performances, we have demonstrated that Friars strive for success. I would like to wish the football team the best of luck as they continue with the end of their season. No pressure, but we could really use another day off of school. Thank you! And GO FRIARS!!
The Fenwick Boys’ Cross Country Team made Illinois High School Association (IHSA) history on November 6. “Ours is the first CCL [Chicago Catholic League] team to ever win a state championship in cross country,” Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 proudly reports. “A HUGE congratulations to Head Coach Dave Rill and assistants Gus Coronado, Brixton Rill and Dan Wnek!”
A breakdown of how the Friars ran and placed:
Grayden Rill 8th place 15:06.34
Nate Mckillop 20th place 15:17.35
Dean O’Bryan 33rd place 15:37.33
Zac Daley 43rd place 15:44.54
Lee O’Bryan 87th place 16:05.68
Carl Lukas 123rd place 16:21.04
Christian Kline 205th place 17:07.96
Grayden Rill ’23 (Chicago), who has been the team’s steady leader all season, and Nate Mckillop ’24 (Elmhurst, IL) earned All-State honors for their performances. But it was sophomore Dean O’Bryan (La Grange, IL) who really raised some eyebrows this past Saturday in Peoria by running at personal-record pace, beating his own best time by a whopping 40 seconds! “Dean might have won it [the title] for us,” proclaims Head Coach Dave Rill ’87. “He was consistently our sixth-place runner all year, then comes in third [33rd overall] at state!”
Grayden Rill adds, “Saturday’s race was our end goal since summer, and we had a good day. Shoutout to our sophomores who stepped up! We now have two sophomores, Nate Mckillop and Dean O’Bryan, who are both in the top five best sophomores in Fenwick history — and they are a lot of the reason we took home the title Saturday.
“I am so proud of all of my boys,” the All-State junior continues. “We have worked so hard since track last year for this goal, and all those miles payed off. I loved seeing all of my teammates buy into the sport and buy into this goal that we made back at camp in the summer: to be one of being one of the best teams in the state. And from this goal we turned into the best team in the state and the best cross-country team in Fenwick history.”
“This state championship is extra special for me,” concludes Coach Rill, who was an All-American while at Fenwick, because two of his sons are part of the team. “I’ve been able to coach Brixton [Class of 2014], who now is an assistant coach, and now Grayden. I cannot tell you how proud I am of these guys. We went from being last place at the last state meet to first. We believe this is only the second time that has been done.”
Friars win their Sectional and claim first conference title since joining the GCAC eight years ago!
Conference and Sectional titles were impressive achievements for the Fenwick girls’ tennis team, but they saved the best for last by earning a third-place trophy — of 80 teams represented — at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 1A State Finals this past Thursday through Saturday in Buffalo Grove, IL!
The Friars tallied 12 match wins, reports Head Coach Gerard Sullivan: two in the main draw from Kate Trifilio in singles (17th place of 64) and five each from doubles pairs Rachel Abraham & Maeve Paris (9th) and Trinity Hardin & Megan Trifilio (sixth). En route to their finish, Fenwick players pulled off three upsets of higher seeds and went 2-1 in three-set matches. “Congratulations to the team and their coaches for a great finish to a record-setting season!” praised Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99.
GGAC & Sectional run
On Saturday, October 9, at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL, the team won its first Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) title in the eight years since joining the conference. They won three of their five head-to-head matches against the Ramblers, sealing the title a week after dropping three of five in the teams’ dual meet.
Erin Hayes led the way with a 2 ½-hour semifinal win at #2 singles; Maeve Paris / Rachel Abraham followed, with another semi-final win at #3 doubles, and Megan Trifilio / Trinity Hardin sealed the title in a Rambler demolition in the #1 doubles championship.
A sweep of the Ramblers was still possible, and Kate Trifilio at #1 singles and Caroline Blair / Kate Dugan at #2 doubles pushed their opponents to tie-breakers in their narrow losses. K. Trifilio placed 4th at #1, Hayes 2nd at #2, M. Trifilio / Hardin 1st at #1 doubles, Blair / Dugan 2nd at #2, and Abraham / Paris 1st at #3.
Paris’s conference title was achieved at the end of her first week of competition after sitting out the first six weeks of the season with a broken arm, Sullivan points out. Her only regular-season match to prepare her was a win with Abraham over OPRF three days before conference. But in 2020, Paris was a #1 doubles player and a sectional third-place finisher who would have gone to state. Unfortunately, the 2020 State tournament was canceled due to COVID concerns.
Then, in Lemont, IL, the team won its fifth Sectional title, overwhelming the other eight teams and finishing with 30 points of a possible 36. Erin Hayes won two rounds in singles, knocking out the #5 seed in her second win and losing to the #4 seed in her qualifying match. Kate Trifilio also pulled off an upset of the #2 seed in her semifinal, advancing to the singles championship and finishing as runner-up for the second straight year. Unlike last year, Kate and the other four qualifiers were headed to State, this time with the depth of quality needed for a high team finish.
Both doubles teams advanced to the title match and faced each other in a Fenwick vs. Fenwick doubles final. Rachel Abraham / Maeve Paris were seeded 6th and took out two seeds, including the #2 seeded Nazareth team on their way to the final. Megan Trifilio / Trinity Hardin played up to their #1 seed, giving up no more than two games in any set in their march to the title.
The Friars were one of 16 sectional champion teams at the State tournament but clearly had momentum going in that put them near the top.
Legendary, Hall-of-Fame basketball player and coach passes away at age 88.
By Leo Latz ’76
In the long and storied history of American amateur athletics, only a miniscule fraction of coaches and athletes ever earn membership in a high school, college or professional sports Hall of Fame.
As a both a player and coach, another rarity, Ed Galvin was selected as a member of not only one, but five Halls of Fame: Chicago Catholic League, Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, St. Rita High School and Loyola University New Orleans Athletics.
Even with all of these athletic achievements and recognition, Ed was most proud of his 63-year marriage to Eileen (nee Day), his six daughters, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Galvin passed away at his home in Glen Ellyn surrounded by his wife and family on September 18, 2021, at the age of 88.
As the son of Irish immigrants, Galvin grew up on the West Side of Chicago and, at an early age, fell in love with the game of basketball on the hardwood and asphalt courts of school gyms and Chicago Park District playgrounds. As a 6’ 5” Chicago Catholic League and All-City forward for renowned Coach Clem Naughton at St. Philip’s High School, Ed was awarded a basketball scholarship to Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. At Loyola, Galvin set team scoring and rebound records, was the Wolfpack’s most valuable player for three straight years, a member of Collier Magazine’s All-American Basketball Team, and the 77th overall pick of the 1955 NBA draft selected by the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76er’s).
Galvin began his Hall-of-Fame coaching career as an assistant for three years at his high school alma mater, St. Philip. Galvin left Chicago’s Westside at age 28 to become head coach at Chicago’s St. Rita High School at 63rd and Western Avenues. There, Galvin led the Mustangs to immediate and unprecedented Catholic League basketball success, winning 232 “heavyweight” and “lightweight” (5’9” and under) games in only six seasons, including one heavyweight and two lightweight league championships.
In 1969, Galvin returned to his Chicago westside roots. Fenwick High School Athletic Director and Chicago Catholic League founder, Tony Lawless, hand-picked and personally recruited Galvin to succeed another Chicago basketball coaching legend, Bill Shay, as only the fourth head basketball coach in Fenwick history. During his 10 years at Fenwick, the Friars won two Chicago Catholic League Lightweight titles and was the first team to win three consecutive Fenwick Christmas Lightweight Tournament Championships in the 34 years of the famed tourney. After the Chicago Catholic League entered the IHSA for the first time in 1974, Galvin’s Friars won two regional championships in Fenwick’s first four years of IHSA membership.
Galvin was also voted by his peers as the Chicago Catholic League Coach of the Year for all sports in 1971.
While at Fenwick, Galvin would also serve as the first Head Men’s Basketball coach at Rosary College (now Dominican University) from 1976-78. Post-Fenwick, he was head basketball coach at North Central College (1980-82) and finished his 40-year coaching career at Illinois Math and Science Academy (1988-1997) with more than 600 coaching wins at all levels.
Galvin was also a respected athletic administrative leader as the Athletic Director at St. Rita and Fenwick High Schools, and Rosary and North Central Colleges.
And if all those long hours of coaching and managing athletic departments weren’t enough, Galvin supplemented his income to support his family through a successful business career, first as a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and then with Galvin Marketing, which he established with his life-long friend Dan O’Donnell.
During his retirement years, in addition to spending time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Coach Galvin and Eileen would welcome and enjoy lunches and long, story-telling visits with former teammates and players from Loyola, St. Rita and Fenwick.
Coach Galvin’s impact and influence on thousands of Chicago-area players and their families will be remembered for many generations. Here are a few reflections from a some of his greatest players:
From Jeff Carpenter All-State and All-American player at Fenwick 1974 and member of Notre Dame’s only Final Four Team in 1978:
“For whatever reason, Coach saw potential in me and always encouraged me and my teammates.
“Coach Galvin had confidence in me from the start, and I never wanted to let him down. We all knew Coach was gruff on the outside, but he loved his boys! Plus, he had an awesome hook shot and drop kick!
“My favorite coach!”
From Neil Bresnahan, All-State forward at Fenwick in 1976 and University of Illinois four-year starter and captain of the 1980 Illini:
“Coach Galvin got the most out of every player. We always played hard, and we were always the best and most-feared rebounding team in Chicago because of his teaching and emphasis on that aspect of the game. Outside of the game, he was always there for us.
“He will be missed by all who ever played for him.”
From Jeff Norris, Fenwick ’72, St. Mary’s University MN 1976 and member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame:
“Coach Galvin taught us many things but the infamous Power Training at the very end of practice was one of the most important. Everyone thought it was physical training, but it was really mental training as well. It was the overtime of the game, and it prepared us for the realization that, no matter our situation, we can overcome it both physically and mentally. It taught us to improve our discipline to prepare for both — and the best part was we didn’t know it till later.
“Thanks again for everything, Coach. You will be deeply missed.”
By Ted Londos (Originally published in the Oak Leaves newspaper, April 1972)
“There will always be a Fenwick. Yes indeed, the prep-renowned Friars will continue to make the usual good brand of history in both the academic and sports world for many years to come.”
These were the unequivocal utterances of youthful, brilliant Richard B. Kennedy , assistant principal of this great school when interviewed by this reporter.
My two-hour-long visit to Friarland was dictated by an abundance of disturbing rumors that Fenwick would eventually meet the same fate that befell a few of their Catholic high school counterparts, because of dire pecuniary straits. Well, after much talk and probing with other official Fenwick sources – I was assured, in no uncertain language, this just ain’t so!
Tony Lawless and Dan O’Brien in unison couldn’t conceive of anyone entertaining the idea of an exodus for the Friars from the Catholic prep ranks. Fenwick’s lofty status in the all-important fields of academics and athletics precludes such idle chatter. This writer evokes an Amen.
How many Oak Park-River Forest citizens know the splendid history of Fenwick?
I know that over the many, many years – folk from everywhere marveled at the architectural beauty of Fenwick High School. Our people exuded pride, and the school building was acclaimed by countless as “the most esthetic looking edifice in our village.” It is located on Washington Blvd., between Scoville and East avenues.
Variety is given in its 300-foot length by the wall in front of the gymnasium, the extended tower in the center of the building, and the castellated effect in the main entrance. Its three stories contain 19 class rooms, laboratories, library, cafeteria, swimming pool and gymnasium. Modern equipment in class rooms and laboratories add to the efficiency of its educational facilities.
Fenwick owes its birth to an invitation extended in 1928 by George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago; to the Dominican Fathers, and the founding principal, the Rev. Leo C. Gainor, to erect and administer a new high school to serve the educational needs to the rapidly growing west side of Chicago and its western suburbs. The school, begun in November, 1928, was finished in August of 1929 and opened its doors to the first students in September of the same year.
Fenwick was chosen as its name in honor of the pioneer Dominican in the United States and the first Bishop of Cincinnati, Edward Dominic Fenwick, whose educational ideals and labors contributed so much to the early Catholic history of the Middle West.
It’s common knowledge that Fenwick is primarily a day school for boys – offering every facility for the highest and broadest mental culture. The big aim is to provide a thoroughly dependable foundation in solid elemental subjects conducive for college and for life in the world.
Fenwick’s faculty is second to none in the world of storied three or four R’s and higher learning. In addition to regular collegiate work – they have followed the seven year course of philosophical and theological subjects in the various Dominican Houses of Studies and have made special studies for advanced degrees in leading Catholic and European universities.
In the 43 years of its existence, Fenwick’s record in the field of sports can be tagged as truly spectacular – one of the finest athletic programs in the United States – always under the superlative coaching guidance of the great Tony Lawless. More important, countless members of its graduating classes have won exceptional recognition and honors in colleges throughout the United States. Add to this the many, many athletes who brought fame to their respective colleges as well as to the Friars [and] to Oak Park.
At the University of Notre Dame, out of representatives of 800 preparatory and secondary schools, the graduates of Fenwick have consistently ranked first in group excellence. At Xavier and Holy Cross, Fenwick alumni attained a Percentile mark of 90.9 percent, to rank second among graduates of 50 schools. Similar records at Purdue, St. Benedicts, and Providence College bear strong evidence of the type of training received at Fenwick and of the scholastic ability of its graduates.
We fervently pray and hope that this still-young school will ever remain the major force in the education and formation of the young men of Oak Park and the Chicago area.
closest friend for 46 years summed up the great Coach’s qualities in an address
to Friar student-athletes one month after his death at age 73.
By late coach/trainer Dan O’Brien ’34 (Fenwick Sports Banquet, December 1976)
1929, 250 people applied for the position of athletic director at Fenwick High
School, an all-boys Catholic school opening in September of that year. Principal/President
Fr. Leo Gainor, O.P. selected 26-year-old Anthony R. Lawless to direct the new
school’s athletic program. From Peoria, IL, Mr. Lawless was a graduate of
Loyola University, Chicago, and the lone layperson among the then all-Dominican
faculty and staff. He was the Friars’ head football coach from 1929-56 (record:
177-43-8). A member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, Lawless also was
Fenwick’s head basketball coach (1929-47) and founded the Chicago Catholic
League Coaches Association.
There comes a time in the life of every athlete when
he draws back and takes a hard look at his experiences in order to assess the
returns that might have been. His initial inclination will be to recall the
emotional peaks, the victories: the win over Loyola’s football team; the cross
country effort against Gordon Tech; the golf team’s close finish in the league
and district competition; our tennis team’s dramatic victory in straight sets.
It is perfectly natural to cling to these memories for personal satisfaction.
However, your more meaningful returns – rewards that
will affect your lifestyle and personality – will come in the form of your
character-information. This type of return will, in most cases, come as the
result of behavior patterns formed from personal contacts – benefits derived
from the regard you have for your leader or coach. No doubt most of you, presumably,
have developed this type of respect for your respective coaches.
I believe it is very timely to consider the returns we
have received from our association with the incomparable Tony Lawless. This
very unusual man had personal characteristics that are rare by any standard of
reference. His lifestyle was anything but commonplace; it was truly unique.
Father Conley’s beautiful homily reflected insight into Tony’s character in his
peak years as a coach. My forty-six years with him have given me a singular
opportunity to discern what made him tick and the legacy he has left us.
A Supreme Court justice said he learned in his youth a
lesson that remained indelible throughout his life: human happiness is not
gained from a series of pleasures but from total dedication to a goal above and
An even greater authority said: “He who loses his life
shall find it; he who finds his life shall lose it.” It is a lesson of history
that happiness comes only to those who surrender themselves to a work greater
than themselves. There is no greater delight than to feel necessary to
something you love. A young mother, even if ill herself, when walking the floor
at midnight with her sick infant, is doing what she prefers to all else in the
world. Children never understand mother until they have children of their own.
Tony would have no trouble discerning that young mother’s feelings.
Father Gainor, the founding principal of Fenwick and a
priest of exceptional talent and insight – who brought Tony to Fenwick – had a “rule
of thumb” in judging the potential value of a student or employee. He believed
that a person, regardless of his shortcomings, had value to Fenwick if he had
demonstrated love for Fenwick. Tony Lawless was close to the heart of that
Tony truly loved his work in a most extraordinary way;
he really relished coming to work in the morning. The size of his salary was of
little or no consideration with him. He filled his every day in a work he
deeply loved; being paid for it was a bonus.
Tony was a romantic at heart. While still very young, he fell in love with Fenwick and all it stood for. To the very end, that love was undiminished. What he left us came from a great heart in love with a sublime dream.
Three Fenwick senior student-athletes have made their college decisions, while Class of 2021 classmates and juniors weigh their options. Congratulations to Fenwick volleyball All-Stater Beau Vanderlaan ’21 (above): The 6’2″ senior middle blocker from Oak Park has committed to Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) in the prestigious Ivy League!
Fellow senior and Friar swimmer Angelina Cakuls ’21 (right) from Palos Park has committed to continue her education and athletic career in the pool at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in the MAC.
Golfer Jake Wiktor ’21 (River Forest, IL) has committed to North Carolina State. Jake earned All-Conference honors for the third consecutive year and also is the Chicago Catholic League’s Lawless Player of the Year!
Basketball All-Stater Bryce Hopkins ’21 is expected to make his decision soon. The much-sought 6’6″, 220-lb. power forward, who de-committed from Louisville this past summer, has narrowed down his top nine college choices: Cal, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Providence and Texas.
To date, 26 colleges have verbally offered athletic scholarships to seven Fenwick football players: three seniors and four juniors. Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana) offered the four members of the Class of 2022 on the same day in early September!
Junior QB Kaden Cobb ’22 now has nine D1 scholarship offers (and counting): Ball State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Howard University, Northern Illinois, Mizzou (University of Missouri), Toledo, Vanderbilt and West Virginia!
Junior center/offensive lineman Jimmy Liston ’22 (No. 64) has been offered by Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), Ball State and Central Michigan so far. “Jimbo” also is a heavyweight wrestler for the Friars.
Junior slot receiver/tight end Max Reese ’22 has five offers from Alcorn State, Arizona State, Ball State, Bowling Green and Kansas. Reese also plays basketball for the Friars.
Lanky, junior wide receiver Eian Pugh ’22 now has seven offers, from: Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Howard, Indiana University, Toledo and the University of Kansas. Pugh also is a Fenwick basketball player.
Senior wide receiver Jonas Capek ’21 has offers from Roosevelt University (NAIA, Chicago), Lake Forest College (D3 in Illinois), St. Ambrose (D3 in Iowa), St. Norbert (D3 in Wisconsin) and St. Olaf (D3 in Minnesota).
Senior running back Isaac Novak ’21 has offers from Wheeling University (D2 in West Virginia) and St. Norbert (D3 in Wisconsin).
Senior offensive lineman Jamie Moran (No. 70) has a pair of D3 offers from Augustana College (Rock Island, IL) and North Park University (Chicago).
The Fenwick Girls’ Golf Team (8-1) had a great week last week with wins over DePaul Prep and Chicago Latin School, reports Varsity Head Coach Mike Trankina ’84. Earlier this month, the Friars bested Providence, Resurrection and Montini by wide margins.
The team captain is junior Lillian Bateman (Western Springs, IL), who “has become a leader both on course and off,” Coach Trankina praises, adding how consistent, reliable, and often dominant she has been throughout the year. “Lillian’s worst rounds have still been solid posts for the team,” he says, “and she has had two rounds in the 30s. She is coming into form as her putting is starting to come back.”
Ms. Bateman is joined by her sister, Charlotte, who is a sophomore and “is definitely the most improved golfer on the varsity,” according to Trankina The team is rounded out by newcomers but experienced competitive golfers sophomore Jordan “JoJo” Wiktor (River Forest) and freshman Kathryn Sweeney (Hinsdale).
On September 22nd vs. DePaul (at Willow Crest), the Friars had their first-ever match against the Rams’ new girls’ golf team. Fenwick was led by Bateman with a 41 and helped by a 42 from senior/varsity newcomer Blaire Lepore (Chicago), a 44 from Sweeney and a 45 from Wiktor.
“We had a collective 46-stroke victory over the promising young DePaul Prep team,” says their coach. Last Thursday came a “huge victory” over a very experienced Latin School team that returned a few state-experienced players from last year, he added. “We were led with an unbelievable par score of 35 from frosh Sweeney, followed by a 39 from Wiktor, 41 from Lillian Bateman and 42 from Charlotte Bateman.”
Mid-month, Fenwick had another great week with wins over Providence and Trinity. “The Providence match was noteworthy because we had all six varsity players score in the 40s for the 9-hole match,” explains Trankina. Sweeney, the frosh, led with a 40, and Lepore shot a 48. Junior Maeve McEnery (Elmhurst) had a personal best 45 in competition. The Bateman sisters and Wiktor were all in the low-mid 40s, forming the core of a strong and balanced team. Against Trinity, the girls had an equally consistent game with Wiktor breaking the 40 barrier with a 39. Fresman Kathryn Sweeney (Hinsdale) had another 40 and is proving to be a consistent scorer for the varsity.
“We have a very young team that is only going to improve over the next few years,” Trankina adds. “I see a huge future with this team. And our JV team is unbeaten so far this year also!”
The varsity squad is rounding into form for the upcoming postseason. They have Senior Day vs. Mother McAuley today, a final full-team match vs. St. Ignatius on Wednesday and the big GCAC Conference Championship on Thursday at White Pines.
Their only loss to date in 2020 is to Loyola Academy, “only by 6 strokes,” Trankina points out. “The Ramblers are a team that perennially goes downstate and also wins conference. We will meet them again in the conference championship.” GO FRIARS!
It should come as no surprise that lacrosse is one of
the fastest-growing sports in the United States. The sport’s participation
numbers have been on the rise for the better part a decade. Nationally, more
than 210,000 high school student-athletes now played organized lacrosse (as of
2018), according to statistics tracked by the National Federation of High
School Associations. Some 113,000 of those
participants were boys, while nearly 97,000 were girls. At the youth
level, more than 825,000 children age 13 and under now play “LAX,” reports US
People from the East Coast know lacrosse; most of us
from the Midwest, not so much. More than 30 years ago, some college boys were
playing catch — with nets on sticks — an hour north of Chicago. “What is that?” asked a local, curious observer
while his friends from Boston, New Jersey and New York looked on and laughed.
“Lacrosse is a great game,” attests new Fenwick Boys’ Head Coach Dan Applebaum, who grew up in Oak Park, IL, playing baseball as a kid since the age of six. Applebaum worked at New Wave Lacrosse in Naperville and assisted the staffs at Oak Park-River Forest (his alma mater) as well as Lyons Township high schools in La Grange. He was a Friars’ varsity assistant coach for several seasons before accepting the boys’ head coaching job at Northside College Prep in Chicago (2018-19). Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 tapped Applebaum as the Fenwick boys’ head coach earlier this year.
Applebaum first picked up a lacrosse stick as a
freshman at OPRF in 2005-06. “I wasn’t good enough to play baseball in high
school,” he admits, adding that perhaps he had outgrown America’s so-called pastime,
which was beginning to bore him as a young teenager. What he liked most about
lacrosse is that it is “such a skill-based sport,” the coach explains. “You
don’t have to be the biggest, fastest or strongest [athlete].” The blend of
athleticism and physicality appeals to many boys. It may sound overly
simplistic, but “if you can pass and catch, you can be on the field,” he
Molly Welsh ’20, a senior leader on this coming season’s team who hails from Elmhurst, has been a member of East Ave. for the past two years. “I started lacrosse when I was in fourth grade but quit because I had other sports,” Welsh explains. She picked up a stick again as a freshman and has “loved it ever since. Lacrosse is very different from other sports,” she says. “It is one of the fastest and most competitive sports I have ever played.”
Junior teammate Maggie Chudik (Western Springs) had a similar experience. “I had tried lacrosse in elementary school, but it wasn’t until my freshman year at Fenwick that it became my main sport,” she says. “The Fenwick lacrosse team is such an amazing, supportive group of girls that I feel so lucky to be a part of. “
Fellow junior Declan Donnelly ’21 adds: “Lacrosse has been a large part of my life at Fenwick. My lacrosse experience started at a young age playing for the local lacrosse team,” says Donnelly, a two-sport student-athlete (he started at linebacker this season for the Friars’ varsity, playoff football team) who lives in Berwyn and attended St. Mary’s School in Riverside. “Not only has lacrosse helped me to make the transition into high school, but it has allowed for me to develop skills that would be helpful to me in other sports,” the defenseman points out. “Being a lacrosse player has allowed me to develop skills that have helped me greatly while being on the football field.
“The summer of seventh grade I decided to attend the Fenwick Lacrosse Camp because I was hoping to play for the Friars,” Donnelly recalls. At the end of the camp, Jerry Considine (then coaching at Fenwick) asked whether Declan might be interested in playing for the combined youth and high school lacrosse [U14] team that he was putting together. This was the start, in 2015, of the East Ave. program, which added a girls’ division two years later headed up by Tracy Bonaccorsi, who now is the new girls’ HC at Fenwick (see below). Donnelly plays for Fenwick and East Ave., the latter of which he describes as “a thriving program with teams of all ages, for both boys and girls hoping to play lacrosse for sport or fun. The best part about having an elite, club program in the local area, notes Coach Bonaccorsi, is that it gives kids “the opportunity to improve their game and play more than just the three-month high school season.”
Donnelly credits the East Ave.
program and coaches for most of his high-school lacrosse success. “When I came
to Fenwick I was nervous to play lacrosse,” he admits, “but once I met the team,
I never looked back. I was on varsity my freshman year when we made it to the
Super Sectional Round. To this day, I am friends and stay in contact with many
of the guys on that Super Sectional team. Fenwick lacrosse is a family and
always will be.”
“Lacrosse is fast-paced,” adds Coach Applebaum, who helps
to direct the East Ave. club program (he is one of three founders), now in its
fifth year. “There is a lot of running up and down the field. Guys [and gals] get
gassed, even in practice! The game is engaging and exhausting, which is partly
why parents love it,” he laughs.
All kidding aside, Applebaum notes that the sport’s creativity
was a lure for him. Lacrosse is “a very individual team sport.” What does he
mean by that paradox? “What I mean is that every person on the field has his or
her own style of play – but there still is a team around you.” He acknowledges
that much of the game’s strategy is similar to basketball. However, the skill
set is very different. “I didn’t need anyone else to go out with me to
practice,” he continues. “I figured out ways to make wall-ball fun.”
He expects to see as many as 45 Fenwick boys out for the two teams (varsity and junior varsity) this coming spring. The girls’ squad has even bigger numbers: “There are 70 [female] names on my list for JV and varsity,” reveals new Head Coach Tracy Bonnacorsi, who comes to the Friars by way of East Ave. and Trinity High School in River Forest, where she built up the Blazers’ program over the past three seasons. Five of her players have gone on to play collegiately.
The girls’ version of the game features more finesse and less body checking. (The boys wear helmets.) “We have 20 to 30 girls consistently showing up for [weight] lifting and open gyms,” Coach Bonaccorsi says. One of those players is junior Caroline Finn(Western Springs), who was an All-Conference selection last season as a sophomore.
“I have played with Coach ‘Bono’ [at East Ave.] since I was a sophomore,” Welsh notes. “She is a very encouraging and determined coach. I believe she will push us more than we have been in the past in order to go far in playoffs.” Teammate Chudik adds: “Coach Bono brings a positive energy to the field that I think drives my love and my teammates’ love for lacrosse.”
Bonaccorsi was a multi-sport athlete who graduated from Montini Catholic in Lombard. She became interested in lacrosse when her older sister, Annie, instituted the first-ever lacrosse team at the high school in 2005-06. After playing for the Broncos, the younger Bonaccorsi played and studied at Concordia University in Irvine, CA. Before returning to the Chicago area to take the job at Trinity, she coached at Beckman High in Irvine for two years (while still attending college) and with the Buku club team in Southern California. Her degree is in business administration with an emphasis in sports management. At Fenwick, Tracy’s full-time role is as an assistant to the athletic director.
As for Applebaum’s LAX “pedigree,” after his
All-Conference senior season at OPRF, he played junior-college lacrosse in
Pennsylvania — and then at Mars Hill University (NCAA Div. II) in North
Carolina. As a midfielder there, he garnered second team All-Conference
recognition. Applebaum also has played internationally at the Indoor World
Championships, coming in fifth place as a member of Team Israel.
Increased media visibility is aiding lacrosse’s popularity
among American youth, Applebaum believes. Fifteen years ago, “there were like
four games on TV all year,” he remembers. “Now, they broadcast college games
four to six times per week! You just have to know where to look for them.”
Like ice hockey, lacrosse has a reputation of being an expensive sport to play: Buying a new helmet, stick, gloves, elbow and shoulder pads can cost upwards of $500 per player. However, organizations such as US Lacrosse are making it more affordable, especially for rural as well as inner-city kids. (US Lacrosse is the national governing body of men and women’s lacrosse in the United States.) Its “First Stick Program” grants sticks and protective gear for up to 20 field players and one goalie. Heading into its ninth year, First Stick has leveraged the support of generous individual, foundation and corporate donors into $10 million worth of equipment to give more than 22,000 kids on 760+ teams (448 boys, 320 girls), in every region of the country, the opportunity to play lacrosse — many for the first time.
Locally, Coach Applebaum cites the OWLS sports-based, non-profit youth development organization, which creates opportunities for underserved youth in Chicago. With lacrosse as its foundation, OWLS provides impactful mentorship and access to scholarships, improving the academic and social outcomes of the youth it serves. Bonaccorsi serves on its executive board.
Did you know that lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game played by eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains Indians tribes in what is now the United States of America and Canada? European colonizers to North America extensively modified the game to create its current collegiate and professional form.
Friars in 2020
“I am excited for this upcoming lacrosse season and highly
recommend anyone who is considering playing, even in the slightest, to come out
and try it,” Donnelly encourages. “There is always room for new players, and
all are welcome. You won’t regret it, and I know this because I didn’t.”
Donnelly says he is eager to see how Applebaum
plans to take the Fenwick program to an even higher level. “I have now known Coach
Dan for many years,” Donnelly concludes. “He is a great coach who I know has
the skills and ability to lead us on the right path. I have great faith in him
and the coaching staff that he is bringing in to help him. Coach Dan … is
a large reason why I have become the player I am today.
“If you would like to play, don’t be shy, contact me or any
of my fellow teammates.”