‘Outstanding’ Girls’ Golf Team Heads into Conference Championship

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!

Students-Turned-Teachers Help to Advance the Friars’ Mission

Why is it that such a surprisingly high number of former students return to Fenwick to teach future alumni?

By Mark Vruno

Presently, there are approximately 140 teachers, administrators and staff members at Fenwick High School, and 38 of them have walked the hallowed halls in Oak Park as students. Over the course of the school’s nine decades in existence, many more former pupils have returned to work and serve. “People come back to Fenwick because of the impact the school had on their lives,” believes Social Studies/History Department Chair Alex Holmberg ’05. “Whether that impact was inside or outside the classrooms, Fenwick leaves a powerful impression on everyone,” says Mr./Coach Holmberg, who triples as the school’s clubs/activities director and the defensive coordinator of the varsity football team.

Alex Holmberg ’05

“The opportunity to shape how future students approach the rest of their lives is incredibly powerful,” he notes, “and that potential draws so many people back into the building. Thinking about that opportunity to help prepare and motivate future Friars is what brought me back to Fenwick, and that thought is what motivates me to continue to help the school in whatever way I can.”

Principal Peter Groom, who has taught Friars since the 1980s, reports that many of the Fenwick graduates he has hired, he had in the classroom. “We get to know our students during their time here,” Mr. Groom explains. “We get to know their intelligence, their values, their passion and their work ethic. Typically, our graduates are also committed to our mission. When we hire people who are committed to our mission, we hire people who want to remain a part of our community for a long time. One of the keys to building a mission-based school is to have teachers who are committed and who demonstrate the aforementioned values.”

Roger Finnell ’59, a Fenwick mathematics instructor for more than five decades, concurs with fellow alumnus Holmberg:  “Many alumni teach here because they remember their experience at Fenwick as being something special and want to contribute towards continuing the traditions here,” reflects Mr. Finnell, who is Math Department Chair.

Roger Finnell in 1968.

“I knew I wanted to teach math when I started college,” shares Finnell, who also is the man behind the scenes of Black Friars Guild stage productions. “In my senior year at Loyola, after I finished student teaching at Lane Tech in Chicago, I heard about an opening at St. Ignatius, so I made an appointment for an interview. But then I thought I might as well also inquire at Fenwick. I did my Fenwick interview and was offered a position here, so, seeing this as a great opportunity, I quickly cancelled my St. Ignatius interview and the rest is history!”

Representing the Classes of 1959 to 2012

Kevin Roche ’05

Holmberg and math/computer science teacher Kevin Roche ’05 are two of thousands of Friars taught by Mr. Finnell over the past 55 years. “I think that there are a large amount of Friars returning because they had a great experience at the school, believe in what the school does, and want to be a part of ‘steering the ship’ for future generations,” chimes in Mr. Roche, who also coaches cross country. “We have Friars in different aspects of the school (operations, administration, faculty and development) who all had different experiences here yet all want to give back. I believe that this influx of alumni teachers is also a sign of our generation: millennials have a great desire to find meaning and purpose in their work. That is their highest motivator and education is a career that offers immense purpose and validation for the work through strong relationships.”

Grace Liliek ’08

Grace Lilek ’08, who is in her third year of teaching social studies at Fenwick, captures the sentiment of many of her colleagues who also are alumni: “I was inspired to pursue a career in education based on my experiences at Fenwick,” says Ms. Lilek, who also is a learning resource coordinator. “I think experience is the first reason so many of us have come back to Fenwick to teach. You will not meet two Fenwick graduates who had the exact same experience. You can be an athlete or a thespian or participate in academic competitions, and always find your niche. You can also take on all three of those roles and thrive. It is an honor to come back to Fenwick as a teacher and share these experiences with our students.” Lilek continues:

Continue reading “Students-Turned-Teachers Help to Advance the Friars’ Mission”