Chick Evans Scholarship comes together for Dykema
Jack Dykema had to admit, it's an astounding number.
Not his average round of 78 or 79 on his home golf course at Pheasant Run, pretty strong in itself.
No, the Wheaton Academy senior was commenting on the tuition and housing college grant he'll receive courtesy of the Western Golf Association's Chick Evans Scholarship Program. Its estimated value is $120,000 over four years.
Soon entering his fourth summer as a caddie at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, the Indiana University-bound Dykema is among 120 Illinois recipients of the Evans Scholarship, which dates to 1930. He's among 12 seniors attending DuPage County high schools plus Lombard's Marshall Hernandez, who is home-schooled.
The nation's largest scholarship program for caddies, a record 985 students are enrolled in 18 universities as Evans Scholars. It's funded mainly by some 32,000 golfers who are members of the Evans Scholars Par Club program, plus proceeds from the BMW Championship.
"I was like, Wow, I really did it," Dykema said of opening his mail and reading the good news after a final selection interview at Medinah Country Club in late November. "It was not in my vision at this time last year, even. It just somehow all came together."
A two-time state golf qualifier and three-sport athlete all four years at Wheaton Academy, Dykema fulfilled the program's criteria of strong caddie record, excellent academics, outstanding character and financial need.
(It did not matter that Dykema can really lace the 3-pointer on the basketball court, but he can do that, too. His future intramural teammates in the Evans Scholars House on Jordan Avenue will find that out.)
Dykema's family moved to West Chicago from Oak Forest before his freshman year -- his father, Chip, coaches the strong Warriors' boys tennis team. They settled across from St. Andrews Golf and Country Club, aptly enough.
Last summer, while putting in 120 "loops" caddying at Chicago Golf, he asked the caddie master about applying for the Evans Scholarship. Dykema collected all his paperwork, got letters of recommendation from golfers whose bags he carried and submitted it all.
He received an email requesting he appear at Medinah for an interview. He anticipated a small gathering, but said he was directed to a table with a microphone to field questions from "70 or 80" members of the Western Golf Association and former Evans Scholars. "Green jackets," they're called.
Dykema said it was scary, but it obviously paid off.
"That'll probably help me with life skills as well," he said.
And, wow, he really did it.
"It's just crazy how it all happened, and hopefully it'll just be one of the greatest things to happen to me in my life and it'll springboard me," said Dykema, considering accounting or finance at Indiana, maybe some club golf.
"I think it's going to be a great four years. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. We'll see where God's plan takes me."
For nine years DuPage Valley Conference softball programs have come together over one day to play for charity. For six years, 2019 included, the beneficiary has been Mutual Ground in Aurora, which provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The common dry goods donated by teams due to DVC Cares may not seem like much, but they're gold to the Mutual Ground folks who may be buying supplies out of their own pocket.
"I'll be honest," said Naperville North softball coach Jerry Kedziora, "the people who work there, (executive director) Michelle Meyer and (advancement director) Kathy Melone, they've shed tears a few times."
Thursday is the date for this year's DVC Cares ballgames, though each school also does things on the side, selling DVC Cares T-shirts or Naperville North arranging "Chipotle Night" on May 14, when a third of the Chicago Avenue restaurant's proceeds from 4-8 p.m. go to Mutual Ground.
On Thursday Neuqua visits Metea for a junior varsity softball game at 4:30 p.m. followed by the varsity game.
At Benedictine University in Lisle, Naperville Central plays Waubonsie Valley at 4:30 followed by Naperville North hosting incoming DVC member DeKalb at 7 p.m.
Admission at Benedictine is $2 or a donation of dry goods. Naperville North personnel are going with paper towels, Clorox wipes and baby wipes off Mutual Ground's "wish list."
"Paper towels and baby wipes never go out of style" there, Kedziora said. He called this the perfect time to contribute these goods as shelves that were stocked during the holidays need replenishing.
"That stuff usually runs out and we come in and supply them for a couple months during this time," he said.
Based on what Mark Fitzgerald did as Aurora Central Catholic's girls basketball coach and what that program was like before he arrived, it bodes well for West Chicago, where earlier this month he was named the new girls coach.
ACC's fourth coach in four years when he took over in 2008, it had won one game the prior season, mirroring West Chicago in both cases.
"I know we have a big job ahead of us, but it's a very similar situation to the one I had when I went to ACC," Fitzgerald said.
In his third season at Aurora Central, the Chargers won 19 games. In the fourth they won a program-record 25 games and finished fourth in Class 2A. At a school whose girls varsity had achieved one winning season in 34 years, Fitzgerald produced five of them in 10 seasons.
Fitzgerald became the program's winningest coach by a wide margin with a record of 148-139. Coaching eight players in his first summer practice, he built the program to one where cuts were required at each level.
"I'm hoping we can do the same kind of magic here (at West Chicago)," said Fitzgerald, who also directed St. Francis' sophomore boys team to four Suburban Catholic Conference titles in six seasons in the 2000s.
He plans on bringing a more active summer program to West Chicago, and eventually building a feeder program. He certainly built loyalty at Aurora Central; even though he didn't coach there last season three current seniors invited him to attend their college signings.
"I live in the (West Chicago) district, so the fact that I can coach for my hometown team was very appealing to me," Fitzgerald said.
"I've already met the kids and they are ready to work. They want to get started right away. They want to get better so we'll do whatever it takes this summer to help them do that."
Downers Grove North graduate Beth Bayser recently was inducted into the Lewis University Athletics Hall of Fame. A two-time all-state 400-meter runner for the Trojans in the 1990s, Bayser earned seven All-America honors in Lewis cross country and track. Helping the Flyers to consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference outdoor track titles from 1997-99 with a program-best third-place NCAA finish in 1997, Bayser's 800-meter outdoor time and indoor times in the 800, mile and 1,000 remain school records.