By Pat Brozynski

December 2009 Archives

Erin Potts' brief life an inspiration to many

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


(Reprinted with permission from 1st Alliance)

"We are sad to report that Lions Juniors and 1st Alliance player Erin Potts lost her three-year battle with cancer December 18 at the age of 18. Erin had played for Lions Juniors and 1st Alliance from the time she was 8 years old. As a 15-year-old, she played for Lions 15-1. Then after making the First Alliance 16 Silver team as a setter, she was diagnosed with malignant sarcoma (bone cancer).

Erin started with Lions Juniors as a little cub at the age of 3. While most three-year-olds are out at the playground or running around at home with their brothers and sisters, Erin was running around with a volleyball in her hand at her older sister's volleyball tournaments. At a young age, she loved the sport often dressing up as a little lion to help support her sister's team. Erin was sweet, kind and competitive even then.

As years past and her sister moved on to a higher level of volleyball, it was Erin's turn
to play. Having been around the sport since she was 3, Erin always played above her age group. As a third and fourth grader, she played with the fifth grade. Erin was well-liked and respected by her teammates and coaches for her extensive knowledge of the game and her competitive nature.

As she continued with volleyball, she was chosen as a setter because of her leadership skills, athleticism, knowledge of the game and big hands. Erin worked very hard in this position and became an accomplished setter.

Working with Erin was a joy. She pushed her teammates, always gave 110 percent and motivated her team with laughter, smiles and encouragement. When times got rough on the court, she pushed harder. She was a competitor from day one and hated the thought of losing.

When Erin could no longer play the sport, her love for volleyball never diminished. She came in the gym to work with her team and the setters as often as she could. Having been trained as a setter for so many years, she had much insight to offer young setters. She worked them hard and wanted them to be their best at all times. Her smile continued to inspire young athletes and helped make them better players.

We will miss Erin around the gym, as she was such a positive inspiration to us all. Her smile, laughter, competitive spirit, and insight will live on in the players, teammates, and coaches she so deeply touched.

Erin attended Lyons Township High School."

And finally, this from 1st Alliance club director Sue Keck...

"Erin was a great inspiration to anyone who is struggling with a life changing situation, especially a young person."

For more information, go to

Hickey named Illinois' Gatorade Player of Year

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Phil Brozynski

Annemarie Hickey of two-time Class 3A champion Joliet Catholic, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, has been named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois.

The Gatorade Company has been honoring the nation's top high school athletes for 25 years. In collaboration with ESPN RISE and the assistance of, Gatorade recognizes individual winners for the 49 states that play high school volleyball plus the District of Columbia.

The award recognizes outstanding players, great students and good citizens.

Hickey, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter, is the second player from Joliet Catholic to be named Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois in the past three years. She joins 2007 winner Jennifer Murphy, now at the University of Florida.

Other players considered included St. Francis outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, Belleville Althoff setter Carly Thomas, Bartlett outside hitter Carly Sahagian and outside hitter Stephanie Holthus of Burlington Central.

Players to keep an eye on next year for the award are 6-4 junior outside hitter Ellen Chapman of Glenbrook South and 6-0 junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti of Class 4A champion Cary-Grove.

Forty-three teams from Illinois cracked's 2009 Century Club National top 1000 rankings, led by IHSA Class 3A champion Joliet Catholic, which checked in at No. 5.

Here is the list of Illinois teams and where they ranked (comments by

5. Joliet Catholic
Final record: 41-1; Last week's ranking: 5
Pre-season ranking: 8

After winning Illinois' 3A title last year in a surprise, the Angels were expected to repeat in 2009 and did not disappoint. While OH Annemarie Hickey, the Player of the Year by both the Sun-Times and Tribune, was the team's undisputed star, the contributions of the other five seniors, including OH Alyssa Warren and setter Jennifer Murphy, cannot be overlooked. Next year's team will build around Lainey Wyman, with contributions from a sophomore and a freshman team that together lost only one match this fall.

30. St. Francis
Final record: 35-3; Last week's ranking: 30
Pre-season ranking: 29

58. Freeburg
Final record: 38-2; Last week's ranking: 58
Pre-season ranking: Not ranked

68. Cary-Grove
Final record: 36-4; Last week's ranking: 68
Pre-season ranking: Bubble

84. Lyons Township
Final record: 37-5; Last week's ranking: 84
Pre-season ranking: 71

85. Glenbrook South
Final record: 37-5; Last week's ranking: 85
Pre-season ranking: 98

90. Breese Mater Dei
Final record: 35-7; Last week's ranking: 89
Pre-season ranking: Not ranked

132. Benet Academy
Final record: 35-5

133. Hinsdale Central
Final record: 33-6

134. St. Charles East
Final record: 32-7

136. Mother McAuley
Final record: 29-11

Random note: With six sophomores contributing, the Macs started slowly. But by year's end, they were one of the most dangerous teams in Illinois. Led by libero Bridget Powell, look for McAuley to challenge for a state title in 2010.

137. Sandburg
Final record: 32-7

151. Evanston
Final record: 33-7

159. Quincy
Final record: 36-5

165. York
Final record: 28-9

194. Geneva
Final record: 35-3

195. Belleville Althoff
Final record: n/a

270. Marist
Final record: n/a

275. Naperville North
Final record: 30-8

277. Neuqua Valley
Final record: 23-10

279. Lemont
Final record: 31-8

315. Lanark Eastland
Final record: 40-2

316. Moline
Final record: 31-4

Random note: The Maroons broke into the top 100 for a stretch this year and could be a fixture in the rankings in 2010 with seven of their top 10 back, including all of their starting attackers.

366. Champaign Centennial
Final record: 34-6

368. Downers Grove North
Final record: 27-11

371. Sycamore
Final record: 35-7

381. Naperville Central
Final record: n/a

453. Crystal Lake Central
Final record: 37-5

454. Oak Forest
Final record: 30-8

457. St. Ignatius
Final record: 30-8

458. Lake Zurich
Final record: 33-7

459. Hersey
Final record: 35-4

Random note: Nancy Lill's team had a great year, which included an undefeated conference run and a win over Wisconsin Division II champion Catholic Memorial. Five key seniors graduate, but the team could reload quickly behind a JV team that did not lose a single set this season and sophomore setter Abby Fesl ready to step into a startling role.

462. Bloomington
Final record: 26-9

463. Normal Community
Final record: 25-12

464. Normal U-High
Final record: n/a

681. Nazareth Academy
Final record: 29-11

682. Chicago Payton
Final record: 22-8

685. O'Fallon
Final record: 28-9

692. Chicago Christian
Final record: 27-10

790. Carlinville
Final record: 36-4

850. Burlington Central
Final record: n/a

864. Decatur St. Teresa
Final record: 34-3

868. Murphysboro
Final record: 34-4

Colleges continue to tap into Illinois pipeline

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Illinois volleyball players continue to make their college choices, including Lyons' Erin Juley (391 assists, 17 aces), a 5-foot-10 junior dynamo who was often overlooked while serving as the Lions' second setter behind 6-foot-1 Alexis Viliunas.

Juley has verbally committed to Long Beach and is slated to practice for the Junior National team over the holidays.

Benet will also send four players to the college ranks next fall. In addition to early commits Gina Finke (Yale) and Brianne Riley (Kansas), the Redwings' Meghan Byrne (Washington University) and Sierra Young (Cornell University) have also signed letters of intent.

Meanwhile, on the boys side, Hinsdale Central's 6-foot-5 setter/opposite hitter Graham McIlvaine has committed to play at Ball State beginning with a 2020-2011 season.


Finally, here is a look at the final top 40 teams in Illinois, compiled for

1. Joliet Catholic 39-1
2. St. Francis 35-3
3. Cary-Grove 36-4
4. Lyons 35-3
5. Breese Mater Dei 36-6
6. Glenbrook South 36-4
7. Benet 35-5
8. Hinsdale Central 33-6
9. St. Charles East 32-7
10. Mother McAuley 29-11
11. Sandburg 32-7
12. Freeburg 38-2
13. Evanston 33-7
14. York 28-9
15. Quincy 36-5
16. Geneva 35-3
17. Belleville Althoff
18. Marist
19. Naperville North 30-8
20. Neuqua Valley 23-10
21. Lemont 31-8
22. Lanark Eastland 40-2
23. Moline
24. Lemont 31-8
25. Champaign Centennial 34-6
26. Downers Grove North 27-11
27. Naperville Central
28. Sycamore 35-7
29. Crystal Lake Central 37-5
30. Oak Forest 30-8
31. St. Ignatius 30-8
32. Lake Zurich 33-7
33. Hersey 35-4
34. Nazareth 29-11
35. Chicago Payton 28-8
36. O'Fallon 28-9
37. Chicago Christian 27-10
38. Carlinville 36-4
39. Decatur St. Teresa 34-3
40. Murphysboro 34-4

Some school administrators just sport attitude

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

So you think many principals and school administrators don't care about sports or sportsmanship?

Maybe you're right.

As part of its effort to increase sportsmanship at its member schools, the Illinois High School Association implemented a "Do What's Right" program in August 2007. The program created nine expectations for member schools, coaches, players and communities to adopt.

Among the expectations are showing respect to opponents, showing appreciation for outstanding play, respecting the judgement of game officials, emphasizing teamwork, accepting the responsibility of representing the school and community, and displaying modesty in victory.

The IHSA awarded seven sportsmanship awards to teams participating in the state finals in volleyball. The organization also recognized the efforts of schools participating in soccer and football.

The schools that were presented "Do What's Right" awards in volleyball were Carlinville, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Glenbrook South, Joliet Catholic, Chicago Christian and Payson Seymour.

Fourteen other schools were eligible to receive "Do What's Right" awards in either volleyball, soccer or football, but their administrators failed to register to participate in the program.

Does that mean those school leaders don't feel that sportsmanship is important? Or that sports are unimportant? Or that reinforcing positive behavior among young people, coaches and fans is unimportant?

Maybe the IHSA should implement another award for those schools. They can simply call it the "Do What?" award.


Shealyn Kolosky, Wheaton Warrenville South's 6-foot-3 junior middle hitter, verbally committed to the University of Tennessee on December 1. Kolosky will be the second Tigers to don the orange, following in the footsteps of former WW South standout Annie Sadowski ('03).

Kolosky is also the second player from WW South to commit this year, joining Monika Stanciauskas, a 6-foot-1 senior middle hitter, who signed in November to play next year at William & Mary.


Schaumburg's fine outside hitter/setter junior Emily Young recently verbally committed to play at the University of Southern California. Young set three school records while leading the Saxons in kills and assists this fall.

In addition to playing in one of the most competitive conferences in the country, Young also plans to take advantage of USC's outstanding academic programs. A National Honor Society student, Young ranks in the top 3 percent of her class.

Marist's junior libero Caroline Niedospial, a 2009 Sun-Times All-Area Volleyball special mention selection, verbally committed to Northwestern University on November 25. Niedospial is considered one of the top liberos in the Class of 2011.

She will join 2010 Northwestern recruit Stephanie Holthus of Burlington Central at the Big Ten school by the lake.


And finally, Illinois high school volleyball is losing one of its top officials with the "retirement" of Peg Campana of Streamwood. Campana is moving to Indiana to look for a job after her position at Advocate Health Care was eliminated.

Campana has officiated high school volleyball in Illinois for more than 30 years. She has been a fixture at both the girls and boys state tournaments. She has also officiated collegiately in the Big Ten, Missouri Valley, Big East and Southeastern Conference (SEC).

"I have to say that as much as I love officiating, I am extremely proud of being affiliated with the Illinois High School Association all these years," Campana said. "It's not about the money. It's all about the athletes."

Campana was in the chair for two of the best matches in the state this season - Joliet Catholic's dramatic three-set win over St. Francis in the Class 3A sectional, and Cary-Grove's stunning upset of Lyons in the Class 4A title match.

"It's been a great run," Campana said.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

January 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.