Dankowski gets her due for Maine West hoops service

  • Mary Dankowski

    Mary Dankowski


Every great program has people working behind the scenes who prove invaluable to its success.

For the Maine West girls basketball program and its Hall of Fame coach Derril Kipp one of those people is Mary Dankowski.

That is the reason the Illinois High School basketball Coaches Asscociation will induct her into its Hall of Fame on May 2 at Illinois State as part of the Friends of Basketball category.

"It still hasn't hit me yet," said Dankowski who has done everything from the scheduling of Maine West's highly-popular and long-running summer league to coordinating team events for the Warriors girls basketball team.

"I received a letter after Thanksgiving and really couldn't believe it," she added about the honor. "I told very few people because I really couldn't wrap my mind around it."

Dankowski is a familiar face at all Warriors girls basketball games, serving as a scorekeeper at all away games and keeping individual stats at home games.

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She also helps out with team banquets.

"Through the summer league, I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, coaches, players, officials, and parents," she said.

One person she met is Tom Kalleses when he was coaching at Madonna High School and later at Francis Parker. Currently serving as an assistant at Resurrection High School, Kalleses is responsible for nominating Dankowski for the honor.

Dankowski has also spent her share of hours working with the Des Plaines Youth Commission.

"Mary Dankowski has been touching the lives of the community's young people through her work at the high school and the city's Youth Commission for decades," said Karen Kozenczak, the retired Director of Media Sevices for the city of Des Plaines. "Her unselfish dedication, her countless hours of volunteerism, her willingness to go that extra mile for youth, no matter what the cause, makes her truly a special person.

"Mary has a wonderful gift of being able to relate to young people and, in doing so, she has helped mold countless lives. It is an honor to know her."


Dankowski's association with the Maine West girls basketball program started when Kipp approached her about some frozen hot dogs.

"Coach Kipp really took a chance on me," she said. "I went from cooking hot dogs to coordinating the summer league."

Dankowski recalls asking Kipp for a summer league schedule and he happened to ask her how long it would take to cook two frozen hot dogs that he was holding.

"I asked when he needed them and he pointed to a lady by the concession stand and told me that she had just ordered them," Dankowski said. "I said you can coach, but you can't cook, and I never left."

One thing led to another and before long Dankowski was running the Maine West concessions, scheduling some games and then scheduling tournaments.

More and more teams got involved as interest really picked up.


"All of a sudden we had an observation tourney that featured 550 games in one weekend," Dankowski said. "We played games at Maine West, Maine East, Maine South, Prairie Lakes, Prospect, St. Viator, Elk Grove and Willows Academy. It was phenomenal."

Dankwoski takes great pride in the league and it tournaments.

"I could never have done it without Stony (Jerry Stonequist) who has been a friend through our work with the Des Plaines Park District, as well as Maine West," Dankowski said. "We got to know the wonderful custodians at Maine West as we sat scheduling and typing tailor-made schedules, long after the last summer league game ended."

Through those associations, Dankowski helped many years with the Junior Warrior boys' and girls basketball programs.

"I have always enjoyed helping others, and doing volunteer work," she said. "This enables me to do just that. I am also proud of helping with the Des Plaines Youth Commission because we have had the opportunity to link the community together and provide enriching experiences for youth and their families. It's always about the kids."

Dankowski has been able to watch some of the best girls players in Illinois.

"I think that getting to know coaches and their teams and having them share some of their experiences has been great," she said. "The Moline team wanted to go to Portillos so I gave them games at Maine East (closest venue to the franchise).

"Parents from out of town couldn't wait to go to Woodfield. Girls wanted to spend some time at Navy Pier or go to ESPN Zone. We always tried to accommodate everyone because our contention is that all those people who were here supporting their kids should have an opportunity to enjoy fun times which add to making wonderful memories."

On May 2, Dankowski will have another memory -- that of being inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Women's basketball

Saint Louis University freshman guard Jenny Vliet (Rolling Meadows H.S.) was named the Atlantic 10 Conference women's basketball 'Rookie of the Week' for the period of Feb. 9-15.

It is the first weekly award for Vliet, who played a key role in Billiken victories over No. 20/21 George Washington (79-61) and Davidson (77-59).

Vliet was 5-of-8 overall and 4-of-7 from 3-point distance in each game, tying the Saint Louis season high and establishing a personal collegiate career high for 3-point field goals.

She registered 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in a career-high 39 minutes vs. George Washington.

At Davidson, Vliet tallied 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block.

Vliet leads the Billikens (13-12, 6-6 A-10) with 33 3-pointers. In conference games only, she ranks 11th in the A-10 in 3-point field goal accuracy (36.2 percent).

Men's basketball

Wisconsin-Parkside guard and Arlington Heights native Jimmy Gavin, who attended Prospect High School, led the Rangers with a career-high 40 points and seven 3-pointers in an 83-82 victory in overtime against Illinois Springfield.

The Rangers (24-2, 16-1 GLVC) led by as many as 15 points with 11:12 left in the game but the host Prairie Stars (10-15, 3-13) stormed back and tied the game forcing a five minute extra session.

With the win, Parkside established a new school record for Great Lakes Valley Conference wins in a season, surpassing the previous record set last season of 15 while tying the program record for wins in a season with 24 set during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 campaigns.

Men's track

Lewis University junior Andre Barnes (Prospect) won the 200-meter dash (22.16) and 400-meter dash (48.80) to help the No. 15 Flyers to a second-place finish at the Cardinal Classic, hosted by North Central College.

Lewis was second to North Central for the overall title.

Women's track

• Augustana senior Stephanie Burbidge (Palatine) took second in the mile (5:37.58) in a 129-53 victory over St. Ambrose at the Carver Center.


• University of Illinois senior Kendall Cox (Palatine) and junior Kelley Sarussi (Rolling Meadows) have qualified to compete in the 2015 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships.

They qualified as part of the Illini Triathlon Club Team based on points accumulated in races during the 2014 season, and will race at the Olympic distance (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). The team will travel to Clemson, SC to race in the championships on April 24-25.

Women's swimming

North Central junior Natalie Przybylski of Elk Grove placed fifth in the 1-meter with a final of 317.25, gaining 14 points, in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin championships in Pleasant Prairie, Wi.

Women's hockey

Concordia-Wisconsin sophomore Veronika Metanova of Palatine had 5 assists as the Falcons posted a 2-0-0 record in one weekend. The forward set a program record with 4 assists in a 4-1 win over Finlandia.

She also added an assist on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over St. Scholastica and was named a National Collegiate Hockey Association top performer for her efforts that week.

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

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