We've experienced whiteouts and blackouts and swimmers wearing pink bathing caps. The new year brings a Purple-Out.
Friday's boys basketball game pitting Naperville North at Naperville Central will offer fans of both rival teams wearing purple, and players and coaches are incorporating the color in the way they dress. Word on the street is purple socks and/or shoelaces, though it'd be awesome were respective coaches Jeff Powers and Pete Kramer to take the court in full-on Prince regalia.
The purpose of the event is no laughing matter.
It's "a sign of solidarity against bullying and harassment," Naperville Central's Barry Baldwin wrote in an email. He's the Redhawks boys golf coach, assistant girls soccer coach, and school sponsor and national board member of the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation.
"The night will encourage students to help those that are being picked on, bullied, harassed or just need to feel included within their schools," he wrote
A pair of Naperville Central deans, Lisa Xagas and baseball coach Mike Stock, started a program, "Be3," in which students step in when they see cases of harassment. They asked Baldwin if the "JKB kids" could help implement the program.
Another Naperville Central JKB sponsor, assistant boys soccer and basketball coach Jeremy Whitt, also worked with the students to devise the Purple-Out idea as a culmination of a weeklong event at the school. It was then presented as a joint venture with Naperville North's chapter of the JKB Foundation.
"We contacted North and they liked the idea as well," said Naperville Central senior point guard Nicky Lopez, a JKB scholar.
"We're definitely stressing that bullying is a big problem and should be stopped," said Lopez, a Redhawks co-captain with Ryan Antony and Mike Blaszczyk. "But also I think (the Purple-Out) creates equality between the two schools. We're rival schools, so to have both schools dress up in purple and come together at a basketball game is kind of a cool thing."
When there is a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl there are too many college football bowl games. Thirty-five bowls were played from Dec. 15 through Monday's BCS Championship.
Yes, it's a money grab. But it also provides loads of college players a stage either to elevate their NFL Draft stock or play the game they love possibly for the last time.
Take Waubonsie Valley graduate A.J. Lindeman. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder concluded his career at Toledo starting at right tackle in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing 41-15 to Utah State.
Vanderbilt senior Josh Jelesky enjoyed more success. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Naperville Central graduate started at right guard in a 38-24 victory over North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl.
Navy didn't have much luck in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. The Middies lost 62-28 to Arizona State. But junior tackle Collin Watkins of Hinsdale Central got a couple more reps before his senior year.
Big-game experience was gained by Downers Grove South graduates Anthony Farinella and Ryan Oruche of Bowling Green and Central Michigan, respectively; also Downers North grad Jarel McGriff-Culver, a redshirt sophomore running back who played in all Louisville's 13 games, including the 33-23 upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Say what you will about Notre Dame and its 42-14 loss to Alabama in Monday's BCS title game in Miami. Glenbard West graduate Chris Watt, the rare lineman to be named DuPage County Daily Herald All-Area captain, looked to perform admirably as the Irish's starting left guard. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger both cited the 6-foot-3, 310-pound senior and that's good enough for us. Addison Trail 2001 graduate Bill Brechin was part of Notre Dame's 2012 success as an associate coach.
A slew of locals made the trip to Florida for Northwestern's 34-20 win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Among them were Wheaton North's Mike Trumpy, who ran for 7 yards on 3 carries behind starting right guard Neal Deiters of York (former Montini lineman Chuck Porcelli also played). Wheaton Warrenville South's Dan Vitale, capping a great freshman year as the Wildcats' "superback," caught 7 passes for 82 yards with a 34-yard reception to set up a touchdown.
Following Michigan State's 17-16 win over Texas Christian in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, redshirt freshman Jack Allen of Hinsdale Central, who started at guard and center all year long, was named to the Football Writers of America Freshman All-America team.
Michigan State senior kicker Dan Conroy, a WW South product, made probably the greatest impact of all local players. With 1:01 left in the Wild Wings Bowl he kicked a 47-yard field goal for the win, setting the Spartans' season record of 23 field goals. In the 2011 Outback Bowl Conroy kicked a field goal in the third overtime period to deliver Michigan State a victory over Georgia.
We've mentioned that Lake Park assistant track coach Bob Nihells will be inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame this Saturday as part of ITCCCA's 50th annual coaches clinic at Oak Park. Other local coaches will be honored as well.
Lancers head coach Jay Ivory is boys track Class 3A coach of the year, joining retired Glenbard South coach Andy Preuss in 2A and Naperville North's Dan Iverson as 3A girls cross country coach of the year following the Huskies' 2012 title.
Five coaches will be given Pasquini Awards as assistant coaches of the year. Among them is another of Ivory's top-flight assistants, Tom Kaberna, whose work in the horizontal jumps has been a key factor to Lake Park's three straight state championships. Constantly smiling Wheaton North distance coach Jeff Potter also gets a Pasquini; from 800 meters on up his Falcons are always a threat.
Schools strive to create a family environment. Over the holidays St. Francis' family got a little larger.
A pair of St. Francis dads, Frank Pecora and Brian Flood, started a "Spartans Father's Club." The group meets monthly for camaraderie, to build a tuition assistance fund and, as Pecora noted recently, "serve the needs of the St. Francis community and the community at large."
The December meeting included a toy drive that netted $175 in gift cards and about 50 toys. One morning before Christmas a group that included St. Francis student-athletes Jack Petrando, James Butler, Justin Flood and the Kalfas brothers, Russ and James, took the gifts to Central DuPage Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Naturally the toys were a big hit. One of the Spartan Fathers, Mark Kalfas, told Pecora that a girl with leukemia picked out a soft toy and said, "Now I have someone to sleep with me tonight."
When a little boy wanted that same toy only to find none were left, Mark and James Kalfas went back to the store, bought every last one and brought them back.
"I think we made a lot of very sick kids happy today," he told Pecora.
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