No. 500 for Hersey's Fendley as Huskies top Buffalo Grove
From her days at Rolling Meadows High School when she was a three-sport standout, Hersey girls basketball coach Mary Fendley has always been a household name in the local high sports world.
On Tuesday night at the house of 2000 Class 4A state champion Buffalo Grove, Fendley placed herself in some championship company herself.
With the Huskies' 55-33 victory over the Bison on Tuesday night, Fendley joined at least 28 other girls basketball coaches in Illinois who have won 500 games according to the IHSA record books.
Fendley's 24-year record at Hersey now stands at 500-204.
Her assistant for all 24 years has been Julia Barthel, the school's girls athletic director.
"Mary has always been willing to fight for opportunities and equality for girls in athletics," Barthel said. " She has been a leader and trailblazer in women's sports for many years coaching a variety of sports at different levels."
Fendley's team have always competed at a high level, evidenced by her winning percentage (.710), a Class 4A fourth-place finish in 2010 and 15 regionals.
Not to mention five of the last seven MSL East crowns, including the 2021 Mid-Suburban League title.
"Mary celebrates the success of her athletes both on and off the court," Barthel added. "And she enjoys hearing about how they are doing long after they graduate. Her commitment to develop young women as both athletes and people is admirable."
One of those players is current New York University freshman guard Mary Kate Fahey, the 2021 Daily Herald all-area captain. Her mother, Jen, played for current hall of fame Fenwick coach Dave Power at Immaculate Heart of Mary and was at Tuesday's game.
"She (Fendley) built a culture here," said Fahey, who was on hand Tuesday. "The kids want to play for her from when they're little and they want to succeed here. Mary Kate wanted to play from third grade on and she knew she
Win No. 500 was stress-free for Fendley as the Huskies (18-3) raced out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back. Katy Eidle (20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals) and Meghan Mrowicki (13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) led the way as all 14 Huskies played. Val Allen blocked 3 shots.
"I think my girls remembered seeing Buffalo Grove come out with a lead against Maine South in the third quarter earlier this year," Fendley said. "And they knew that team was not going to back down based on any team's record or anything else. I think our girls came out really tough today with great intensity on both ends of the court."
Fendley never imagined reaching the milestone.
"I had a child eight days before our first game one season," she said. "I had stretches of time with my son (Cole) where I didn't even know what I was doing the next day. It was certainly hard to look ahead and being able to have him come to my games and not having a babysitter, and getting 500 wins 14 seasons later."
Fendley gives a lot of credit to her coaching staff.
"Julia has been with me from the start," Fendley said. "And I've had very few coaches. So I think it's been a pretty cohesive program where we're all on the same page and always sending a message to the girls that if you want to play hard and improve, there is a place for you to play in Hersey basketball and we are lucky enough to have the kids buy into that."
After the game, MSL basketball officials assignment director Fred Allman presented flowers and a card on behalf of all the MSL coaches and officials.
"Mary has had an incredible coaching career at Hersey after a phenomenal career at Rolling Meadows," Allman said. "She does great things with her athletes and for the Hersey community. She is a terrific educator (math teacher) and an exceptional coach."
Buffalo Grove was led by Kim Stuercke (8 points) and Abby Thiessen (7).
"It's a great feat (500 wins)," said BG coach Martha Kelly. "She's in an exclusive club and congratulations to her."
Fendley is only the third Mid-Suburban League to reach 500 wins. The other two are Buffalo Grove's Tom Dineen and Fremd's Carol Plodzien. Barrington current coach Babbi Barreiro has 459 wins.
The Bison (7-13) are in a stretch of playing four powerhouses (Prospect, Glenbrook North, Hersey and Fremd).
"We knew we were going to play four tough games in a row," Kelly said. "We were winning and playing tough against Prospect and Glenbrook North (before losses) and then we had this one where we just didn't come out the same way we did in those other two. And it showed right away. And now we have Fremd (on Thursday). It's a tough stretch and I think it might have caught up to us tonight."