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Mooseheart's boys basketball team really looks together this season. Especially below the ankle.
Daily Herald correspondent Darryl Mellema, who works with Moose International in communications and public affairs, brought to our attention a $1,500 donation by Moose members from Batavia Lodge 682 has outfitted the Ramblers in identical basketball shoes.
Calling themselves the "Moose League," the donors earned money by selling "team shirts." All proceeds went to the Ramblers, who chose the type of shoes they'd all wear.
Mellema quoted Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens: "That is just the greatest thing ever."
The "Moose League" was honored Feb. 9 for their charity. One of them, Matt Winkle, liked the look of the team shoes.
"The one thing we said was we wanted something that the kids could keep," Winkle told Mellema. "We didn't want to get equipment. We wanted to give them something they could wear and then keep as their own."
Welcome to the club
At Aurora Central's boys basketball game last Friday, four people gained admittance into the Chargers' hall of fame.
Tim Barkei, from the Class of 1976, was an offensive lineman named the Chargers' 1975 playoff squad's most improved player. He went on to play at Eureka College, making that school's hall of fame in 2006.
Manuel Barraza (2001) was a three-time all-state track athlete and seven-time state qualifier in cross country and track.
Big Matt Benjamin (2006) was an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State offensive lineman. He also averaged 18.8 points and 11.5 rebounds on the basketball court, voted team MVP.
Tom Kennedy, who came in from Denver where he works for Regis University, coached soccer, basketball and baseball at Roncalli, which in 1969 merged with Madonna to form ACC. A former Lewis University basketball player who was drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs -- predecessor to the Bulls -- Kennedy also is in Lewis' hall of fame.
This Saturday, before the boys varsity basketball game against West Chicago, West Aurora will induct four new members into its Sports Hall of Fame.
Joe Howell (1996) ran the ball for the Blackhawks' last football playoff team, in 1994. He holds the program single-season and career rushing records. He also played on West's 1996 sectional basketball champion and its 1995 Upstate Eight Conference baseball champ.
Kim Schaubel-Groom (1988) was a unanimous all-Upstate Eight basketball pick voted Most Dedicated her senior season. A two-year softball captain, she pitched West to a regional title in 1988, and was named the school's top female athlete. At Waubonsee Community College she was the Northern Athletics Conference Woman of the Year as a senior.
Honestly, the accomplishments of Skip Stolley (1964) are just too many to neatly summarize. A conference cross country and track champion, for 50 years he was a coach and program builder at the national, collegiate and prep levels starting with West's cross country team, formed after his letter-writing campaign. Suffice it to say that in 2009 he was inducted into the USA Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame.
Jeff Weisse (1995) led West Aurora in tackles 22 of the 29 straight football games he played. He holds the single-season and career tackles marks, earning team MVP as well as USA Today all-American as a senior. In college he set an Illini record with 6 tackles for loss in a game, and received the program's Wright Family Commitment to Excellence Award as a senior.
Congrats to all!
Catching up with Kyle Gannon
The St. Charles North junior swimmer enters Saturday's St. Charles North sectional with a 2011 second-team all-state honor under his belt, finishing eighth in the 500-yard freestyle in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 36.40 seconds. He hopes to again qualify in that, return downstate in the 200 free -- he won both those events at the Upstate Eight Conference meet -- and help his teammates again claim top-eight state relay finishes. Spurred by his father's job transfer before Kyle entered the fifth grade, parents Michael and Stephanie and sister, Taylor, moved to St. Charles from the Philadelphia suburb of Doylestown, Pa. Kyle took swim lessons early and by age 6 he'd joined the Central Bucks (County) Aquatic Club. He progressed even more rapidly under St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney, and also trains with the St. Charles Swimming club. Like his father a lacrosse player in Pennsylvania, Kyle switched to water polo as a sophomore. He said: "I've been in the pool most of my life."
Q: If you had the chance to move back to Doylestown, would you?
A: When I first got here if you'd asked me if I wanted to move back to Pennsylvania I would have said yes. But after being here five, six years I probably would want to stay here if offered the chance.
A: I just feel like I've grown into some relationships around here. It'd be harder, especially now that I'm older and in high school., to lose those relationships, and it'd be tougher to move now in my junior year, almost my senior year.
Q: You said your dad played lacrosse at Penn State. You switched to water polo, but do you miss lacrosse?
A: Sometimes I miss it. It was good to get out of the water sometimes, but a lot of swimmers play water polo, so it's good to stay with them, it's good to stay with your friends.
Water polo is actually pretty fun. It's not as intense as swimming so it's a nice break. And your head's out of the water more so it's a little more fun. You can talk to your teammates more, and you're not staring at the bottom of the pool the whole time.
Q: I can't imagine treading water all that time. Isn't that hard?
A: In the deep end it's rough, especially with guys pulling at your legs and stuff. But in the shallow end you can usually touch off the bottom a little bit without getting caught.
Q: What are your goals for the sectional?
A: As an individual I would like to make it to state in my two events. That's all that I'm worried about.
Q: What about the relays?
A: Our relays have been pretty strong all year, so I'm pretty confident in those.
Q: Who are the captains on the team?
A: Joey Chokran and Chris Dieter. ... They've been really good captains all year. They're not very outspoken, they're not very loud and they won't get in your face a lot, but they're really good leaders. They lead in practice and they lead by example. It doesn't matter what class you're in, they'll be kind to you. Coach Rooney made good choices when he made them captains for this year.
Q: What do you do out of the pool?
A: Swimming takes up most of my life. I really like, eat and sleep, that's about it. I do homework a lot and I watch TV a lot.
Q: Do you attend St. Charles North athletic events?
A: I haven't been to a lot of basketball games since it's the same season as swimming, but I went to almost all the home football games. During homecoming week I went to all the homecoming activities, too.
Q: Listen to music at all?
A: Recently I've been getting a lot more into rock. My dad raised me on U2 and Bruce Springsteen, so I've been listening to that. And I've been getting into the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters recently.
Q: Anything someone might not know about you?
A: I'm a pretty open guy. The people that know me know a lot about me -- and know pretty much everything about me, actually. I'm just a normal teenage guy who spends a little too much time in the pool, probably.
Q: How do you avoid prune-textured skin?
A: That's a great question. There's not much you can do about that. Pretty much the smell of chlorine is the natural cologne for swimmers, and a perfume for the girls. You can't get away from that.
Q: You practice more than an hour in the morning before school, and for two and a half hours after school. You must love it.
A: Swimming is one of those sports that you love to hate. It's really rough on the body when you're swimming, it's rough on the mind looking at the bottom of the pool, but you know it's always going to be worth it at the end of the season. You put a full hundred percent in at practices and you know you're going to swim fast at the end of the season. So, I probably love swimming.