2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/10/2014 8:25 PM

Gavin’s winning story a study in perseverance

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  • Jimmy Gavin

    Jimmy Gavin


Jimmy Gavin graduated from Prospect High School in June of 2010.

His name never appeared on the high school sports pages because he never played varsity basketball for the Knights.

But through perseverance and some personal guidance, Gavin is making a name for himself in Division II basketball.

Coming off the bench as the sixth man, Gavin is the second-leading scorer (15.7 ppg, less than one of the team leader) for the Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers, who are currently ranked No. 20 in the country.

Just this past Saturday, Gavin scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help lead the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division-leaders (19-3, 12-1) past Rockhurst University 76-63 before 1,767 fans in the DeSimone Gymnasium.

"All of Jimmy's success at Parkside is a testament to the belief he has in himself and the incredible support he receives from his family," said Prospect varsity coach John Camardella, who had Gavin on his team in 2005-06 when he was the Knights freshman 'A' coach. "His work ethic and determination have been on full display these past few years and he deserves everything that has come as a result."

Gavin, who loved basketball more than anyone and was a total gym rat, was diagnosed with Crohn's disease during his sophomore year of high school.

Undiagnosed early on, it affected his growth for years and when the disease progressed, it totally stymied his ability to play.

"I always had the ambition to play, but once I got sick, I kind of felt like the game passed me by," Gavin said. "There was definitely a time where I never thought I would play another basketball game."

Those who knew Gavin wondered when he would grow, not realizing the disease was restricting him from doing so.

"Jimmy was little and just not as strong as the other boys but he never stopped loving the game," said Bill Reed, who helps run the Prospect feeder program.

As a sixth grader, Gavin was a starter on his "house" basketball team in the Arlington Heights Youth Basketball Association league.

From sixth to eighth grade, he was a backup on various feeder, travel and school teams. "His size just made it difficult to keep up with the bigger kids," Reed said.

As a freshman at Prospect, Gavin was a backup again but he did start a few games.

During his sophomore year, the disease really grabbed him. He was at the back end of a 15-man sophomore team and played very little.

"The disease really got bad at that point," Reed said. "Jimmy became extremely sick and lost a ton of weight. It wasn't the most important thing in the grand scheme of things, but it resulted in Jimmy being unable to play basketball his junior year."

Medication provided some relief and all of a sudden Gavin started to grow.

He got his energy back and he kept playing.

In his senior year of high school, Gavin ended up playing in the AHYBA high school league.

"Jimmy became a sort of playground legend." Reed said. "We would get stories from people about how incredible this kid was playing in a recreation league."

Those stories, seemingly exaggerated, indicated that Jimmy was hitting 3-pointers from NBA range and tomahawk dunking.

"As it turns out the stories were mostly true," Reed said. "Unfortunately, time had seemed to run out. High school was over and where does a kid with this passion and love for a game go?"

Gavin went to Mississippi State in the fall of 2010.

The love for the sport was still there and he played every day, quickly becoming part of a group of guys that scrimmaged regularly against the girls team at the school.

In the spring of 2011, Jimmy's brother Jack died in a tragic traffic accident.

Being so far away from home was hard and Gavin left MSU that spring.

"I kind of gave up on the game for a while when I withdrew from Mississippi State," he said. "I worked with a family friend and counselor (Kristen Marzolf).

"I'm the type of kid where I would just kind of deal with stuff on my own. I did that for a long time but I was not living my life. I was just kind of going through the motions. I had a lot of grief that I had never dealt with and she helped me deal with it. Basketball was still right there once I got out of my own way. "

Gavin went to Harper College the next fall and kept playing in pickup games.

"Again the playground gossip was incredible," Reed said.

In August of 2012, Jimmy enrolled at Bradley as a preferred walk-on.

Although he appeared in only 10 games in the Division I program, Gavin didn't give up.

In the winter of 2013, he suffered a relapse of the Crohn's disease which again seemed like it could put the end to his dream.

But he recovered and found Parkside, where he has been able to play a major role with one of the top teams in Division II.

"I was really excited right away about our team," Gavin said. "Everyone gets along with each other. There are no egos. It's just a hardworking group of kids. I can't say I expected it (all the success). But, of course, as a competitor, I expect to win every night. I'm grateful for what we have done so far."

Gavin is second on the team in steals (24) and also has 72 assists and 49 rebounds. He is one of the most successful college basketball players who have attended Prospect High School.

"The best part of this story is that Jimmy is only going to get better," said Camardella. "Jimmy probably knows better than anyone else that there are no shortcuts to success. He has faced each and every obstacle with his head high and a relentless attitude. I am so proud of him and very happy for him. He and his family are terrific people."

Reed echoes Camardella's statements.

"It's amazing for a kid who hardly played high school basketball," he said. "I was one of many who loved him but doubted him all along the way. I know that I couldn't be prouder of any of the boys that I have watched over the years than I am with Jimmy, and I know all of the other people at Prospect share the same feelings.

And of course, his father, Mike.

"He wants to help change the world, but for now he just wants to fly," Mike Gavin said. "He has overcome long odds to get where he is today."

Men's track

University of St. Francis junior Eddie Solorio (Elk Grove) was a member of the distance medley relay team that recorded the second-fastest time in the NAIA to date as they finished the event in 10:14.15 at the Indiana Relays.

That earned Solorio a NAIA automatic-qualifying standard.

Illinois sophomore Jereme Atchison (Buffalo Grove) ran a personal best 14:59.50 in the 5000 meters also at the Indiana Relays.

• Notre Dame senior Pat Lesiewicz (Schaumburg) finished fifth in the 5000 meters at ND's Meyo Invitational with a personal best time of 14:25.49. Eastern Illinois senior Pablo Ramirez (Conant) finished seventh in the 3000 meters in a personal best 8:10.71 in the same invite.

• Missouri sophomore Tyler Schneider (Conant) finished eighth in a personal best 8:13.73 in the 3000 meters at the McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Ky. Missouri sophomore Dan Roe (Buffalo Grove) finished 11th in a personal best 8:15.14 at the same event.

• North Central junior Travis Morrison (Schaumburg) finished fifth in a personal best time of 4:15.24 in the mile at the Squig Invite in Whitewater, Wis.

Women's track

Notre Dame senior Rebecca Tracy (Barrington) finished second in the Meyo Mile in a time of 4:35.36 at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame.

Also at the Meyo Invitational, Illinois junior Collette Falsey (Schaumburg) finished third in the 3,000 meters with a time of a 9:53.02. Illinois State sophomore Haley Goers (Hoffman Estates) was ninth with a personal best time of 9:59.33 and Purdue sophomore Laura Maibuecher (Prospect) ran a personal best time of 10:10.32.

Notre Dame junior Karen Lesiewicz (Schaumburg) ran a personal best of 5:01.27 in the mile and Illinois junior Britten Petrey (Schaumburg) recorded a personal best of 5:03.99 in the mile.

• Missouri freshman Brooke Wolfe (Prospect) ran a personal best 10:03.09 in the 3000 meters at the McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Ky.

• Minnesota freshman Tess Wasowicz (Palatine) ran a personal best 5:06.06 in the 1,500 meters at the Jack Johnson Classic at the University of Minnesota.

Men's swimming

Illinois Wesleyan freshman Sam Kim (Hersey) was named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Men's Swimmer of the Week.

The Arlington Heights native clocked three season-best times during a double dual meet with Wheaton and North Central.

He dropped 0.5 seconds off his previous season best in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing in 22.66.

In the 100-yard freestyle, he posted a time of 49.45, which is almost a full second faster than his previous best of 50.36. Both times were within 0.2 seconds of his lifetime bests. Additionally, Kim finished the 200 individual medley in 2:06.71, which was 1.2 seconds faster than his previous season best.

Cupcakes for A Cause

Palatine High School is hosting 'Cupcakes for a Cause' on March 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For the event, area stores donate cupcakes and people make their own cupcakes to donate as well. There are contests for most creative, etc.

The event is in its second year and last year it raised $10,000 for Palatine's Special Education Department.

The event is conducted to help raise money for Palatine High School special education clubs and several activities such as Special Olympics, Best Buddies and Pep Squad.

For more information, contact Dawn Shepherd at dshepherd@d211.org or (847) 755-1836.

Soccer signees

Several area soccer players signed their letters of intent last week, including midfielder Alexa Ben of Schaumburg (DePaul), midfielder Katy Karabetsos of Buffalo Grove (San Jose State), midfielder Carrie Madden of Barrington (Marquette), defender Nicole Niro of Barrington (Auburn), goalkeeper Kaylee Price of Antioch (Canisius College), defender Gabby McLaurin of Barrington (Eastern Illinois) and defender Carrie Caplin of Barrington (Eastern Illinois).

Oakton Fundraiser

Oakton's men's and women's basketball doubleheader against Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference rival Morton College on Feb 11 will be a benefit for The Harbor, Inc., a Park Ridge nonprofit organization that provides housing and services to homeless, abused, and neglected youth.

The women's game tips off at 5:15 p.m. followed by the men at 7:15 p.m.

Admission is free and donations will be accepted.

Men's hockey

Bowling Green State University junior Dan DeSalve (Elk Grove) has been nominated for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award.

He is one of only seven Falcons to play in all 26 games this season.

DeSalve ranked first on the team with 18 assists, which puts him on top in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. He leads the WCHA in overall point scoring with 24 points (6g, 18a), averaging 0.92 PPG.

Men's basketball

Washington University (St. Louis) senior guard Alan Aboona (St. Viator) scored a season-high 25 points with four 3-pointers and 7 assists in a 94-80 win over Emory University in UAA conference play. With the win, the fourth-ranked Bears extended their winning streak to 13 games and improved to 18-2 overall, 9-0 in the UAA.

• Please email Sports Notes items to jleusch@dailyherald.com.

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