Fremd friends set to continue careers
After meeting through a mutual friend at Fremd High School, Kelly O'Sullivan and Haley Gorecki could never have imagined what would happen eight years later within a period of two weeks.
The two standout athletes would become professionals in their chosen sports.
Gorecki was drafted by the Seattle Storm of the Women's National Basketball Association in the third round on April 17. Unfortunately, on Tuesday Gorecki was waived by the Storm in compliance with the league's roster finalization deadline,
"Hopefully all this will be over by the time Kelly starts in her league," said Gorecki, a business and psychology major who plans to play professionally overseas. "But who knows? There are a lot of unknowns."
Twelve days later, O'Sullivan was taken as the 20th overall pick by the Buffalo Beauts in the National Women's Hockey League draft on April 29.
"It's definitely crazy for it to happen that way," O'Sullivan said. "We had conversations about playing our sports for a really long time but never a specific conversation like 'oh, we're both going to be drafted one day'. It was just about playing as long as we could."
Both sure have succeeded in that, making it all the way to the professional levels of their chosen sports.
They got there with exceptional collegiate careers.
Gorecki finished at Duke ranking 17th all time with 1,384 points.
She was tenth all-time with her 14.3 points-per-game average and eighth with 170 3-pointers.
Gorecki became the first Duke player to average over 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in back-to-back seasons and the third Blue Devil to register 500 points, 200 rebounds, 100 assists and 75 steals in a season (as a redshirt junior in 2018-19).
Adrian (Mich.) College alum O'Sullivan recorded 26 points this winter in 28 games (4 goals and 2 assists) and was named the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year.
As a junior she saw action in all 31 contests and led the Bulldogs' defense in point collection with 7 goals, 14 assists and 21 points.
O'Sullivan became the first Adrian athlete (male or female) to be a four-year first team All-American, finishing her career as the school's all-time scoring leader among defenders with 29 goals, 85 assists and 114 points.
Coincidentally, both elite athletes started their sports playing with older brothers.
Gorecki's keen competitiveness was helped along by playing up against her brother Adam, who was a 6-foot-5 center for Fremd's boys team.
When she was six years old, O'Sullivan tagged along with her older brother Jack, with whom she was a teammate for the Rolling Meadows Renegades.
"We were on the same teams and I had neighbors who played, too," Kelly said. "I played on the boys teams until seventh grade when I joined Team Illinois and then the Chicago Mission."
As a freshman, O'Sullivan commuted to Loyola High School in Wilmette where her brother was also a student.
To reduce her travel time from her Inverness home, O'Sullivan transferred to Fremd as a sophomore and ended up in an English class with Gorecki.
With both their sports being played in the winter, they only saw a few of each other's games in high school or college.
For now, they're seeing each other at their homes in the Northwest suburbs.
"It's a little different with us both being home now," said O'Sullivan, who also played varsity golf at Fremd (personal best round was a 79). "We get to celebrate a little the fact that we both got drafted so that's kind of nice. I was here to see her get drafted and all that cool stuff. It was awesome.
"We see each other at least once a week. We've played HORSE at one of the parks. We like to play Spike Ball and stuff like that."
Obviously, they can't wait to move on to their pro athletic careers.
"No ice rinks are open in Illinois," O'Sullivan said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
"Hopefully within the next few weeks, I can sign a contract. Things are moving kind of slow. We just got a new general manager and I'm waiting to hear."