By Phil Brozynski
Not every great player can be found on a team that is having a hugely successful season in terms of wins and losses, and not every set of brothers have the opportunity to share the pinnacle of sports with each other.
Jay Petty, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter who has committed to Lewis University, is the top player on a Downers Grove North team that improved to 4-15 by going 3-2 at its own tournament including a 25-6, 25-21 win over Joliet Catholic in the third-place match.
The Trojans are a young and inexperienced team that lost eight seniors from last year’s 24-13 regional finalist and whose second-best player may be Jay Petty’s younger brother Greg, a 6-4 freshman.
Despite the opportunity to play with his younger brother, the team’s lack of success has not been easy for Jay.
“It’s hard,” Petty said. “It’s hard to say how difficult it’s been.”
Jay Petty plays for Sports Performance during the club season where winning is almost taken for granted.
“At Sports Performance, you’re expected to win and win big,” he said. “Losing almost never happens.”
But the young Trojans may have turned the corner over the weekend.
Downers North defeated Homewood-Flossmoor and Schaumburg in pool play, then after losing to Joliet Catholic 21-25, 25-18, 25-16 in pool play, turned the tables on the Hilltoppers in the third-place match.
The Trojans also took Glenbard East to 27-25 in the first game of their championship semifinal.
“I think we’re putting it together,” Petty said. “A lot of our guys’ experience on the court is very limited. So this is a huge step for us.”
Meanwhile, watching his younger brother develop has been a bright spot for Petty.
“It’s fun for me to see him learn and get better,” Petty said. “He’s going to be a great player. This is a great learning experience for a freshman.”
Downers North coach Karen Eder has also been pleased with the development of the younger Petty.
“He’s a sponge,” she said. “He is the most coachable, most responsive player I’ve ever coached. He’s going to be good.”