Brongiel extends impressive downstate run

  • Former Elk Grove High School teammates Carly Danek, left, and Dani Goranson found themselves on opposing squads for a recent NCAA Division I softball contest between Villanova and Michigan State.

    Former Elk Grove High School teammates Carly Danek, left, and Dani Goranson found themselves on opposing squads for a recent NCAA Division I softball contest between Villanova and Michigan State. Submitted photo

Posted3/5/2013 12:01 AM

Over the weekend, Geraldine Brongiel attended her 37th straight IHSA girls basketball state finals.

A true supporter of the sport, Brongiel has been awarded for her dedication by being inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as part of the 'Friends of Basketball' section.

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She has been a 'super fan' of girls basketball since the sport began in Illinois.

Brongiel is a student supervisor at Fremd High School, where she has worked as a ticket taker, and chaperone at basketball games.

She played a major role during the annual Hen Hooper Alumni tournaments held for 16 area schools (including all the Mid-Suburban League teams) in the 1990s. Brongiel volunteered as a ticket taker and tournament mascot, Henrietta Hooper.

She has attended every girls basketball tournament since it started in 1977 at Illinois State's Horton Field House.

Fremd took fourth place in 1977 under Hall of Fame coach Carol Plodzien.

"Geri not only brings team spirit but the famous Kermit The Frog for all to enjoy at the state tournament," Plodzien said. "She has been known to be a leader among the fans in the stands and shares her spirit with everyone involved. She has supported all the different movements to get girls basketball to where it is today."


Brongiel found a passion for playing volleyball when she attended Holy Family Academy in Chicago.

She joined a women's travel team representing Chicago at national tournaments and played against the first Japanese women's volleyball team which traveled to the United States in 1961. That match was played at Gordon Tech High School in Chicago.

Although the IBCA's Hall of Fame has been moved to Danville, the organization's annual Hall of Fame induction banquet will continue to be conducted at Braden Auditorium on Illinois State's campus in Normal.

This year's event will be Saturday, April 27, one day before Brongiel's birthday.

Sports Notes trivia

The above-mentioned Geraldine Brongiel was at the first state girls basketball finals held at Horton Field House at Illinois State. Name two former Mid-Suburban League head coaches who officiated those games in 1977.

Women's softball

How many high school teams have two former players competing at the Division I softball and going up against each other in a game?

That was the case for Carly Danek of Villanova and Dani Goranson of Michigan State, former standouts for Elk Grove High School and the Bash AAU team.


In fact, Goranson almost faced her old teammate in the game won by Villanova 5-1.

Danek was in the on-deck circle in the seventh inning but Goranson retired the batter ahead of Danek to end the inning.

Earlier this spring, Goranson started against No. 3-ranked Arizona State. The 2013 Daily Herald all-area honorary captain pitched her first complete game allowing only 3 earned runs in a 9-2 loss.

• Carthage's Krystina Leazer (Elk Grove) was named a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin softball player of the week.

The senior pitcher from Des Plaines went 3-0, along with a save, as the Lady Reds went 4-0 to open the season at the Finlandia Superior Dome Tournament.

Leazer pitched a 1-hit shutout during a 1-0 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse and was the winning pitcher, in relief, during a 12-5 victory over Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

She was the winner in an 11-3 game against Loras and picked up a save in an 11-10 win over Concordia (Wis.).

In all, she struck out 26 batters and walked only four in 17.1 innings pitched.

Men's gymnastics

Penn State junior Wasef Burbar of Arlington Heights posted the highest score nationally this season on the high bar (16.000) en route to the event title in No. 1 Penn State's dual meet victory over Springfield College.

His score on the high bar was the fourth highest score in NCAA history and earned him the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week award.

He also placed fourth on the parallel bars (14.700) and sixth in the floor exercise (14.450).

Women's soccer

Eclipse Select Soccer Club midfielder Ann Marie Niro of Barrington has been named to a U.S. U-17 Women's National Team camp, running March 2-9 in Chula Vista, Calif.

The camp, headed by new U-17 WNT head coach B.J. Snow, features 26 players and Eclipse Select is the lone club to have three representatives among the group.

Men's basketball

Washington (St. Louis) junior guard Alan Aboona (St. Viator) and junior forward Chris Klimek, (Fremd) were named to the All-University Athletic Association first team.

Aboona started all 25 games at point guard for the Bears averaging 12.9 points per game and led the team in assists (116) and 3-pointers made (62). He reached double figures in 18 of 25 games played, including a career-high 35 points on a UAA-record 10 three-pointers in an 86-84 win at Emory University Jan. 11. Aboona is third in the conference in assists (4.6) and 3-pointers made (2.5), fourth in free-throw percentage (. 900) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), ninth in steals (1.3) and 11th in scoring (12.9 ppg) and three-point field-goal percentage (.408).

Klimek, a second-team all-UAA honoree a year ago, averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a game in 25 starts at power forward for Washington U. He scored in doubles figures in 21 of 25 games played, including five games over 20 points. Klimek finished the regular season third in the UAA in field-goal percentage (. 590), fourth in blocked shots (1.0), fifth in scoring (15.6) and seventh in rebounding (5.8).

Klimek scored a career-high 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting in a 94-63 win vs. Austin College

• Illinois Wesleyan senior Kevin Reed (Prospect) was named to the second team of the College of Illinois and Wisconsin all-conference team.

Women's basketball

Freshmen Kellie Kuzmanic (Wheeling) and Maggie Hogen (Hersey) have been instrumental in helping Cornell College to a record-setting season.

Cornell clinched the Midwest Conference conference with a 93-47 against Lawrence University. Cornell beat Carroll College (73-52) in the semifinals of conference tournament as Hogen collected 7 points, 7 rebounds, 1 blocked shot and 1 assist.

In the final game, Cornell beat Monmouth 63-52 as Kuzmanic had 10 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds.

It is Cornell's first NCAA berth in 40 years of women's basketball and the Rams broke a school record with their final record of 24-1 (19-1 in the conference).

Gary Fencik returning

The Barrington 220 Educational Foundation will host Gary Fencik at Barrington High School on Monday, March 11.

The interview style presentation will provide guests the opportunity to learn about the lessons Fencik, a Barrington graduate, has learned on and off the football field.

Fencik was the Bears' defensive captain for the 1985 Super Bowl championship season.

Additionally impressive is his academic and business background. He graduated from Northwestern and Yale and is currently a partner and head of business development for Adams Street Partners in Chicago.

Fencik will share both his business and sports experience.

The Barrington 220 Educational Foundation presents this event, titled Alumni Legends, in an effort to celebrate the high achievements of Barrington High School graduates.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. at Barrington High School.

Children and students are being offered tickets at no cost with a reservation. Adult tickets are $25 for the program and reservations are appreciated.

A reception will follow the program at the Barrington Country Bistro. Attendees will be able to meet Gary Fencik. Cost for the reception is $100 and includes the program.

Tickets for the event are available online at

Barrington 220 Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization.

They "find the funds" for initiatives that enhance learning but are not otherwise supported by tax revenues. For more information, go to

Trivia Answer

Former Wheeling softball coach Pat Ritchie and former Buffalo Grove girls volleyball coach Paula Von Gerichten officiated games in the 1977 girls basketball state finals. Von Gerichten worked the championship game when undefeated Sterling (21-0) defeated Washington 52-38.

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