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).
Catching up with future coach Keshaun Smith ’14 (with son, Kameron) andfuture teacher Laura Kelly ’19.
Fenwick Graduation: 2014 Hometown: Maywood, IL Grade School: Irving Elementary College: Illinois State University (Normal, IL) Major: Recreational Management Internship: Crossfit Iron Flag and Athletic Performance
Career aspirations: To train children and teenagers to become
drastically better at whatever sport they are playing. Eventually, I will begin
coaching football or basketball. Now that I’ve graduated from college [last month],
I am taking over my dad’s furniture-moving business (Smith Furniture
Fenwick achievements/activities: three-year varsity basketball starter; two-year
varsity football starter.
Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on
you: Ms. Carraher/Megall
Fenwick class that had the most influence on
you: Spanish III with Ms.
Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: Coming in early in the morning before my second-period class freshman year to tutor for Spanish. I had never been taught Spanish before high school, unlike all of my classmates. I struggled the first semester, until I began tutoring with Ms. Carraher. This turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done because it made me comfortable speaking with my professors [in college], especially when I needed extra help.
Fenwick experience that changed you the most: My junior year. I remember driving to Ms. Megall’s house to get tutoring in Spanish III. I realized how tough her class was early in the semester and I made sure I was going to pass Spanish III. This changed me because instead of ignoring my struggles as I did first semester freshman year, I took action and actually passed Spanish III. I was afraid of Ms. Megall’s class because I heard about how hard it was and how ‘mean’ she was. As I began to get to know Ms. Megall, I realized something and this is what changed me: I realized Ms. Megall was actually a very sweet woman and I would never listen to anyone else’s opinion about another teacher again until I see for myself. Ms. Megall’s class is challenging but if you put in the work, I guarantee you will succeed.
Note: Before transferring to ISU, Keshaun played football at Loras College in Dubuque, IA, then basketball at Dominican University in River Forest, IL.
Fenwick Graduation: 2019 Hometown: Western Springs, IL Grade School: St. John of the Cross Current School: Fordham University (New York City) Major: Digital Technology & Emerging Media with minors in Italian and Theatre Performance
Summer internship: Unfortunately, my opportunity to be a
counselor at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan for the
entire summer was postponed. However, I just accepted a position as the Arts
Administration Apprentice at BAM Theatre in Hinsdale. I have worked at this
program for several years as an intern and assistant director, but now that
arts education is occurring in a virtual format, I am able to take on a new
position and can explore how teaching and performing can still happen remotely!
Career aspirations: In eighth grade, I was voted “Most Likely to
be a Teacher,” but I never really understood why … until I came to Fenwick and
met Ms. Lamoureux and Ms. Hennessey. At some point in my life, I would love to
be a secondary educator and theatre director so I can work with young people
and shape their lives just as my favorite teachers have shaped mine. Using the
major I am pursuing at Fordham, I am also very interested in working in media
management for entertainment companies like Netflix or Spotify.
Fenwick achievements/activities: Middle America Regional Champion in the Optimist Club Oratorical Contest with Mr. Arellano, National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, nine productions in the Blackfriars Guild, Honors Chamber Choir, girls’ tennis team, contributor and Diversions editor for The Wick, Write Place tutor, Kairos leader and rector.
Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: Ms. Hennessey was my
Italian teacher for four years, and I am extremely blessed for that. I decided
to take Italian on a whim, not knowing anything about the language, and it
ended up being my favorite class for four consecutive years. She is more than
an amazing educator, she is also a wonderful mentor. While she taught me about
Italian grammar and culture, she also helped me through some difficult times in
and Coach Matt Barabaszwill begin his fourth
school year at Fenwick in August.
What is your
MB: I graduated in 2014 with a BS from Illinois State
University in Secondary Mathematics with a Middle Level Education Endorsement.
In 2019 I earned my MA from Concordia University (River Forest) in Educational
Leadership Program. Right now, I am looking to begin a Doctorate Program
in Educational Leadership; currently looking into Lewis University.
What did you do prior
to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
MB: Upon graduation from college I took my first teaching
job at Saint Patrick High School. During my first year teaching, I also
coached the sophomore football team and both varsity/JV track. The following
year I was named the head sophomore football coach and head varsity track coach,
which I continued to hold until I made my move to Fenwick.
During my time teaching and coaching, I
also gave presentations on different educational philosophies and skills that I
have been learning and using within my years as a new teacher. In 2015, I
presented “Brain Breaks” at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics
(ICTM) Conference, and in 2017 I presented “The Use of iPads to Create an
Engaging Classroom” at the Mathematics Teacher Association of Chicago (MTA) dinner.
(Roger Finnell has been on the board of this committee since 1968.)
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
am reading Teacher Man by Frank
McCourt, which is a tribute to teachers everywhere. I was given this book
from my then great mentor and now friend, Chad Cluver. Chad was my
corresponding teacher while I was a student teacher at Moroa-Forsyth [near
Bloomington, IL]. During the year I spent there, I learned and grew an
incredible amount due to Chad and the amount he continued to push and support
me. He is currently doing amazing things both in and out of the classroom.
I am truly blessed to have a great friend to continually provide me advice and
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
MB: I have many interests that take up my time outside of the
classroom. Aside from continuing my education through completing various
grants and courses, I also coach football for Fenwick. Away from Fenwick,
still working within education, I am a member of AdvancED, which is an organization that
conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of a variety of educational institutions and
systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential.
On a more personal level, I compete in many
intramural leagues, football and softball, across the different neighborhoods
in Chicago. I love animals and the outdoors. From sixth grade until I
accepted my first teaching job, I volunteered and worked at the Park Ridge Park
District Nature Center. When I was younger, I would volunteer every Saturday
at the Nature Center. Once I turned 16 I took on many roles there. I
was hired as a manager to oversee the volunteer staff, run nature birthday
parties, run campfires, run outdoor skills courses, and for six years I ran one
of their nature summer camps.
Animals have been and are a huge part of my
life. In the summer of 2018 I adopted my dog, Bella, and she takes up a
lot of my time. Each day we go on a lot of walks and adventures around the
city. Also, almost every summer morning I will drop my kayak into the
Chicago River and spend a few hours paddling.
When I have time I love to get out my old
charcoal and graphite supplies to draw. Art has always been a big passion of
mine as well. At Illinois State University, my original plan was to double
major in Mathematics and Art; however, the scheduling did not work within the
four-year constraint I wanted to complete it in.
Lastly, I am a huge Chicago sports
fan. If there is a Bears, Cubs or Blackhawks game on, if I am not there I
am watching it.
To what teams and/or
clubs did you belong as a student?
MB: Going back to
when I was in high school I was a member of Student Council, Art Club, Football
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
Sophomore Football Coach: 2017-19
Freshman Football Coach: 2020 – current
Sailing Club Moderator: 2019 – current
PAWS Club Moderator: 2019 – current
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
MB: The two
biggest qualities I see in all the students I teach are determination and
self-advocacy. Each year I am continually surprised by how much I can
educationally push these students and what they can achieve. Also, I am
continually impressed by how much they will speak up for their learning and
themselves. It is amazing to see this skill being engrained with so many
of our students. So many people are okay being passive and not speaking up for
themselves; however, at Fenwick the students advocate for themselves and their
learning and will not settle for anything but the best.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you
choose this field?
MB: There are two distinct things that have paved my
path. I remember sitting in my sophomore Geometry class, thinking, “What
the heck are we learning?” This is a typical thought that runs through most sophomores’
heads as they are trying to grasp the brand new concept of Geometry. Mathematics
was a subject that I was always okay in. I didn’t hate going to class, but
most of the time, like most students, I felt lost and confused. It was in the
Sophomore Geometry class where I started to realize [that] everyone is just as
confused as I am! Once that reality clicked, I started to put more time
into studying with friends and concepts started to click. As we would work
together and learn, I gained a feeling of great accomplishment. When
something finally makes sense to someone else, there’s this little look that
always happens. It is that look and that feeling of accomplishment that
partially drove me to the field education.
The second was my grandfather. As a child, I only had one pair of grandparents (my father’s parents both passed when he was a teenager). My grandfather was a man I cannot even begin to describe. Anytime there was something wrong, he was right there with me. He sparked my passion into the arts, being an incredible artist himself, and was always someone I needed by my side. When I was younger, I was always spending my weekends with my grandpa. My grandfather made a huge impact within the educational world. He was a teacher for many years, but then made his way to being the president of a Chicago school. To this day, my grandma shows me articles of the amazing things he had accomplished and all the recognition he gained for his hard work and dedication to the students and families. If I can become half the teacher and man that he was, I will have a very successful career and life. [Note: Matt’s grandfather, the late Dr. Allen Zak, retired in 1991 as superintendent of School District 102 in La Grange Park, IL. He also was a former superintendent of schools in West Northfield District 31 in Northbrook, IL.]
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.”
Catching up with two young alumni from the Class of 2017: Rachel McCarthy, recently back from Japan, and Ellis Taylor, an American footballer in NYC.
Rachel McCarthy (shown here in Tokyo) will be a junior at Illinois Wesleyan University in downstate Bloomington.
Fenwick Graduation: 2017
Grade School: St. Mary School
Current School: Illinois Wesleyan University
Current Major: English Literature and Psychology
Summer Internship: This summer I was a teaching assistant at Technos College, where I spent an unforgettable seven weeks living in Tokyo and helping English students practice conversations/interviews with a native speaker. I also did a lot of behind-the-scenes planning for the college’s annual cultural exchange event with 10 other sister universities from around the world.
Career aspirations: I’ve looked at a few different career options in the past two years, but right now I’m exploring the possibility of being an English professor. I’ve always had an interest in academia, and my experience at Technos College taught me the joys of working one-on-one with students to help them blossom.
Fenwick Achievements/Activities: Lawless Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, Girls Cross Country, Blackfriars Guild and Novel Writing Club co-founder.
Fenwick teacher who had the most influence on you: A better question might be who didn’t inspire me, but one teacher I do think of on a regular basis is Mr. Arellano. Though his speech class was tough, the way he cared for each and every one of his students was readily apparent, and I still think of his encouraging feedback whenever I have to give a major presentation.
Fenwick class that had the most influence on you: My junior year AP Language and Composition class was pivotal in shaping me as a writer. That class pushed me to write critically about a wide range of fascinating, real-world topics, and I loved the freedom we were given to pursue our own interests. As I prepare to spend a year studying English as a visiting student at Oxford University, my heavily annotated APLAC textbook remains a valuable guide to this day.
a post-Father’s Day reflection, a Fenwick senior remembers his late father –
and thanks his big brother.
Fenwick soon-to-be senior Patrick Feldmeier wrote this essay for the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Patrick was honored, along with his older brother, Danny (Class of 2018), on June 6 at the Union League Club in Chicago.
By Patrick Feldmeier ’20
two, three: Hi Daddy, we love you and we miss you.”
(Mom always adds, ‘You’re in my heart, Sweetie.’)
These are the words my family says after grace every time we sit down for dinner. And simultaneously look at the open seat at the head of the table. Our hearts yearn for the man that God called up to Heaven seven years ago: Dad. It sends a shiver up my spine saying the word out loud, yet his presence still resonates in my family.
Every once in a while, his cologne can be smelled from his closet. His faded blue Ralph Lauren hat still hangs on the wall in my mom’s bedroom. His 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee may have finally been towed, but his K-Swiss “dad shoes” rest untouched in our mudroom. To say that Bob Feldmeier is a role model to me is an absolute understatement. Words will never express how much I miss him; how much I need him in my life; or how much I love him. Through my actions, I attempt to be like him every day.
As a partner at Schiff Hardin, long hours seemed to swallow his work-week. Yet, somehow, someway, he always had time to play catch or take us to watch a White Sox game. After little-league games, my dad would take my brother and me out to “men’s dinners,” where he would teach us lessons such as, “It’s ok to admit it is cold, but it is not manly to complain about the cold.” He was also an avid Notre Dame alumnus and taught us the essence of hard work. The impression he left on me is what is most important. Through watching the way he treated my mom, my siblings and me, and kept God as a focal point in his life, I truly learned what it meant to be a father. His etiquette, manners and gentlemanliness are values I strive to model because I want my children to look up at me the way I look up to my Dad.
My father’s ultimate goal was for his family to live a
life like his, which includes strong family bonds and an excellent, Catholic
education. He continued to set an example of how to be a father and how to find
strength through tragedy by protecting us until the very end.
Gift of Peace
When he was first diagnosed with melanoma, he told my
mother, “Do not tell the kids about my disease. I want to give them the gift of
peace.” He truly was the perfect role model for a dad. It was more important to
him to keep us happy and successful in life than for us to crumble under fear.
His ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his. Instead of
succumbing to anger after his death, I honored his memory by achieving goals and
setting the bar high for myself. I aspire to attend the University of Notre
Dame, like him, and to provide for my family the same way that he did. His
spirit lives on in my heart every day, and every day I thank God for one of the
greatest gifts He has ever given me: my Dad. Perhaps the greatest lesson I
learned from my Dad was that a man is not solely defined by his career and
accomplishments, but by his display of love to his family. Perhaps that was why
he was able to stay strong during his last days, because he truly had reached
his ultimate goal of success in life: to love and be loved by his family.
Ten years ago in your life, where were you? If 50 is the new 40, then 40 is the new 30. A lot can happen in the span of a decade: Young alumni finish college, some attend graduate school, then begin to establish themselves in their professional careers; others contemplate marriage, perhaps. Slightly older alumni may have had children and started families. Older children in junior high school, hopefully, are considering taking the admissions test at Fenwick this coming December.
In the late winter of 2009, now 28-year-old Kenneth “Kenny” Matuszewski ’09 had a typical case of “senioritis” at Fenwick, counting the weeks until graduation and finalizing his plans to attend the University of Notre Dame. (In South Bend, he would major in biological sciences and Spanish.) But something profound happened during Christmas break of his junior year that, literally, changed the course of Matuszewski’s life, he says.
After the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Matuszewski and 37 of his classmates traveled to New Orleans to help people rebuild their homes. He vividly recalls “seeing the devastation, three years later.” More than 1,835 people died in the Category 5 hurricane and its subsequent floods, making it the deadliest storm in U.S. history.
“We went … as a part of the Mission New Orleans trip, a Fenwick organization,” Matuszewski explains. Their three chaperones were teachers Mr. Paulett, Mr. Ruffino and Ms. Logas, he notes. “While I had little experience with power tools or construction, I was still able to do something and help a family move into a home. That experience motivated me to find ways I could help people with my strengths; through my pro bono work, I realize I have found such opportunities.”
Fast-forward 11 years: “I have always felt it was my duty to use my talents as an attorney to give back to the community around me,” says Matuszewski, who grew up in La Grange Park and now resides in Westchester, IL. “That is why I have developed a commitment to pro bono work over the years. While this desire was instilled in me by my parents, who were and still are involved in the local library board and Special Religious Education (SPRED), Fenwick further honed it through the [Christian] Service Project.”
Latin students at Fenwick know that pro bono publico is a phrase used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. Unlike volunteerism, it is service that uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.
Matuszewski at a Glance
Graduated from Fenwick High School, 2009 (Kairos leader, Friar Mentor, JETS, Scholastic Bowl, NHS, football, band)
University of Notre Dame, B.S. in Biological Sciences and Spanish, 2013
Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D., 2016 (Managing Editor of the Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property, 2015-16)
On March 21st will be honored by United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the 2018 Pro Bono Service Certificate for the second consecutive year.
Family of Friars: Kenny’s three younger siblings also are Fenwick alumni: Kevin ’10, Carly ’15 and Jasmine ’17.
Pro Bono and More
Today, Matuszewski serves the community in several ways. His pro-bono activities include work for the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub. “The patent process can be expensive, confusing and inaccessible to inventors. However, the barriers to entry for low-income inventors are even greater,” he explains. “As a volunteer attorney, I help low-income inventors obtain patents for their inventions. Over the past couple of years, I have worked with inventors who have invented devices ranging from simple footstools all the way to computer applications.” As a result of his efforts, Matuszewski earned the Patent Pro Bono Service Certificate from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for 2018 and 2017.
How a grade-school speech contest led a South Sider to send his boys to Fenwick — despite proximity to two other high-school options near Countryside/La Grange.
By Patrick Heslin
The road to Fenwick for my boys started when my son Patrick was in the 5th grade. He attended St. Cletus La Grange and brought a letter home about a Fenwick speech contest one day.
I grew up on the southside in Englewood and knew very little about Fenwick. I lived about a ½ mile from the original St. Rita High School at 63rd and Claremont in Chicago. On Sunday afternoons I would occasionally attend football games in their walled-in stadium. I could get in for 50 cents, if I had to pay at all, and the hot dogs with mustard were my Sunday dinner. What I vividly remember was St. Rita playing on a hot Sunday afternoon against a Fenwick team dressed in black. I thought these guys had to be tough wearing black in that sun!
Fast forward a few years. I am now a dad and I am reading this invitation to the Fenwick speech contest. My career has been in technology sales, and the only public speaking I have had is a class in college and a Toastmasters class when I got my first sales job. Toastmasters is a great, community-based public speaking program where you learn by writing and delivering speeches to your peers.
Throughout my career I have always looked at how effortlessly some people are able to speak in front of an audience while others look like a deer in headlights. In these situations, I am often reminded of the quote from Jerry Seinfield: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
I am sure that all the above experiences were going through my mind when I committed to taking Patrick to his first speech contest at Fenwick in 5th grade. The speech contest was on an early Saturday morning in November. Walking up to Fenwick for the first time can be intimidating! It’s got that Gothic look to it. We made it to the cafeteria and met our very small team from St. Cletus. We were surrounded by many larger teams from other Catholic grade schools.
Andy Arellano welcomed us and explained the rules for the contest. Then Andy took some time to talk about Fenwick. You could tell he was passionate about it as Andy explained the history of Fenwick and why it was a great choice for my son’s high school education. He may also have mentioned at some point that he was a White Sox fan, so I then knew he was also a man of great intelligence.
Time to Choose
As they say, “rinse and repeat,” so we did the speech contest for three more years. I actually became a judge in the contest in subsequent years. Fast forward and Patrick is now in 8th grade. I tell Patrick that we live within a mile of two great schools, but immediately I could see in his face that his heart was elsewhere. I told him it would be four years of taking trains and buses if he went to Fenwick, and he told me he would walk every day if he had to.
Fenwick High School periodically profiles people affiliated with our community who have since passed on …
Dan O’Brien ’34 (1917-2003)
Remembering DOB, “the Dobber:” a coaching/training legend affiliated with Fenwick for seven decades.
By Mark Vruno
In the basement of Fenwick High School sets the Dan O’Brien Natatorium. Our swimming Friars will host the 30th Annual Dan O’Brien Relays this coming January. Younger alumni and present-day students may wonder: Who was this O’Brien guy and why is he a such a legend at Fenwick?
Dan O’Brien was more than a stellar swim/dive guru; he was versatile. DOB was a FHS student (Class of 1934) who then served as a physical education teacher at his alma mater. “Dan’s first Fenwick paycheck predated the Social Security system and had no social security withholding,” deadpans Jerry Lordan, PhD., who teaches social studies at Fenwick and wrote the preface for O’Brien’s oral history, a hardcover book entitled Fenwick Over the Years.
In 1937 Football Coach Tony Lawless hired O’Brien to lead his freshman team. Football was O’Brien’s first love in sports. In the fall of 1930, seven years earlier, Fenwick was only one year old. Dan was a scrawny, 128-pound freshman who showed up for tryouts at the new school, only to be snickered at by burly classmates and upper-classmen. “Sorry, son,” said Lawless, according to a 1972 Oak Leaves article. “I can’t use you. You’ve come out for the wrong team.”
O’Brien, however, was determined and refused to give up easily. Here’s how reporter Ted Londos recounted the story 42 years later:
“The kid faced the wise, young coach and replied firmly, ‘Mr. Lawless, I’ve come out for the team. You’ve asked for candidates. Here I am. You’ve got to give me a chance to show you what I can do.’ And so, to get rid of that reckless kid, Tony put him into a scrimmage – just for laughs. But on the first play, Coach Lawless’s eyes popped when he saw the tiny freshman bring a varsity giant down with a devastating tackle. Again he tried him out, and another regular bit the dust. Young Lawless shrugged his shoulders and decided to let the gutsy little guy hang around. ‘What’s your name?’ asked the coach.”
But the feisty O’Brien’s gridiron career with the Fighting Friars was short-lived. As a sophomore he suffered severe medical complications from the surgical removal of a kidney, which kept 15-year-old Daniel out of school for an extended period of time in 1931-32. “His surgeon warned him that the procedure may either fail and/or kill him,” Lordan later learned. “Dan outlived the surgeon and saw the surgeon’s grandchildren (twin boys) attend Fenwick.”
Dan O’Brien circa 1954.
Fast-forward 45 years, to when two of his former swimmers-turned-doctors came to O’Brien’s aid. “I had come back to Chicago in 1977,” recalls Leonard Vertuno ’57, M.D., a Loyola-educated nephrologist (kidney specialist), “and Pete Geis knocked on my door.” Dr. Peter Geis ’60 was a transplant surgeon and an All-State swimmer three years ahead of Vertuno at Fenwick. “Pete said, ‘Dan needs a doctor, and you’re it.’”
So began a reuniting of player and coach – and an adult friendship that would span more than a quarter-century. It was Dr. Vertuno who would give the eulogy at Dan O’Brien’s funeral in 2003. “He was an amazing man,” the retired doc said in early November from Sarasota, FL. “Dan was renowned nationally and internationally. He chose to stay at Fenwick and work with Tony [Lawless].”