By Pat Brozynski

"Zebras" set to stampede at Niles West

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gallagher and rose.jpg

Katie Gallagher (left), pictured with former York teammate Caroline Rose, will play at Indiana next fall.

The Zebras of Northern Illinois (ZONI) volleyball officials' organization will be holding the 11th Whistle for a Cause Clinic from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 at Niles West High School in Skokie. Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase volleyball equipment for area high schools that lack even the most basic equipment, such as balls and nets, for their volleyball programs.

Since the initial event in 1997, the clinic has raised over $22,000 for a variety of causes related to high school athletics. In recent years, clinic proceeds have benefitted local high school volleyball programs as well as three New Orleans high schools devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Money has also been donated to assist families with medical issues. These have included seriously ill children of volleyball officials and coaches, high school volleyball players, other high school athletes, and the family of a volleyball player killed in the Columbine tragedy in Colorado.

In addition to money raised for purchases and equipment distributor contributions, many local high schools have donated their gently-used equipment to other schools that are in need.

The cost of the clinic is $20 for those who register before March 2. After that date, the cost is $30. Additional donations are welcome.

For more information about the clinic and to register, please visit the ZONI web site at Additional questions may be directed to Ed Vesely at or Nancy Nester at

ZONI is a high school volleyball officials' organization in the Chicago area. Its goals include recruiting and mentoring new officials, developing officiating skills, promoting good sportsmanship and encouraging advancement in official ratings and member evaluations


The talent level in the city continues to get better, said Payton girls volleyball coach Joel Anderson, who led the Grizzlies to the Class 3A state tournament in 2008 and 2010.

Among the players to watch are Melanie Miller of Kenwood, Paige Pullen at Whitney Young, Morgan Barnes at Payton and Odessa Cody from Lane Tech.

"Miller is a 6-foot middle who touches 10-foot-3," Anderson said. "(Sports Performance) Cheryl Butler told me in December that she was going to recruit her from my club (Powerhouse), but that's OK because I was going to take (Lauren) Carlini from her. So it's an even trade.

"Pullen at Whitney Young is developing really well," he added. "She was a starting middle blocker for them this year. They had a nice season. Barnes is doing a nice job out of Walter Payton outside. Cody is developing really well. She's a middle/outside hitter. She's a strong, strong kid."

But Anderson added that the real talent in city is in the eighth grade class.

"That eighth grade class is very talented," he said. "There are probably 20-24 kids throughout the city that I can see who can be very good. I'm excited to see where they land high-school wise, if they go private or Catholic school, because there'll be some names to come out of that group."

The high school admission test scores of that eighth grade group should be issued in a few weeks, which will go a long way in determining where those young players go.

"I'm hoping to get one," he said.

Payton has some of the toughest admissions standards in the city.


The phone rang at the Gallagher household in Elmhurst just days before the official signing period began. It was former York star Katie Gallagher's volleyball club, 1st Alliance. The University of Indiana was looking for a setter after learning that 2010-2011recruit Colleen Smith of Cary-Grove would miss the 2012 season after being diagnosed with Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare autoimmune disease that afflicts only one in 100,000 people.

Gallagher, who originally intended to play at Iowa State, could not pass up the chance to play in the nation's elite volleyball conference.

"I think it's going to be a great opportunity," she said. "That's the reason I was so attracted to it, because I think have a great opportunity to work really hard and possibly play there as a freshman. I love the school, it had good vibes, the coaches are great...I'm really excited.

"I have a lot of respect for Colleen," Gallagher added. "I don't know her personally, but I've heard great things about her, that she is such a trooper and that she's the heart of their team. I hope the best for her."

Gallagher admitted it was difficult to inform Iowa State of her decision.

"Oh, absolutely it was," she said. "I have a ton of respect for Iowa State and the coaches there and all the girls. It wasn't a matter of whether Iowa State wasn't good enough. It was just that I felt better about Indiana and I think I have better opportunities at Indiana."

Gallagher joins a recruiting class that includes another Chicago Sun-Times all-area selection, Amelia Anderson from Crystal Lake Central.

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