We lost the talented, ambitious, charismatic and Hollywood-handsome Will McDermott too soon.
Now his family, including his widow, Lydia, and friends are hosting the Will McDermott Huskie Hustle 5K Run/Walk Sept. 25 in DeKalb to benefit the memorial scholarship fund in his honor.
The funds will benefit Northern Illinois University athletics.
McDermott, a 2009 NIU graduate and a 2005 Mundelein alumnus, died March 4 of this year. He was active in wrestling throughout his high school and college years, and excelled off the mat, too. He was the founder and first president of NIU's Athletes in Action. and he served as vice president and treasurer on the student athlete advisory committee. He was a student representative on the NIU athletic budget committee, too.
And he could run. Fast. Far.
He ran in the Chicago Marathon last October and the Surf City USA marathon in Huntington Beach, Cal., last February.
Following his graduation from NIU, McDermott attended the police academy and began his career as a police officer at NIU. Like most things in life, he excelled at it.
McDermott was chosen as the force's 2010 outstanding officer, the youngest member of the force to receive that award. Lydia, his high school sweetheart whom he married following their junior year at NIU, family and close friends have created the walk/run and scholarship to keep Will's love of competition, Huskie athletics and life itself alive.
McDermott was a state qualifier for Mundelein his senior year and three-year letter winner for NIU from 2007-2009. The 149-pounder posted a winning record in each of his four years.
He graduated with a degree in psychology -- and a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
Following his passing, an NIU news release stated that McDermott was one of the Huskies' best-known student-athletes through his involvement with NIU's student-athlete advisory committee. He represented Huskie athletics at the NCAA leadership conference in 2006-07 and was responsible for organizing a "Smash-A-Car" fundraiser, which is now held before a Huskie football game each year.
"Will was just an outstanding individual," NIU wrestling coach Dave Grant, who recruited and coached McDermott, said on NIU's website in March. "In my years of coaching, I've never met such a wonderful person. He excelled in all areas of his life, but most of all, he was a great person who would go the extra mile to help anyone, especially a teammate. He was a leader of our team both motivationally and spiritually. He was one of the leaders among our student-athletes and he gave of himself at every turn. (My wife) Kris and I consider Will and Lydia a part of our family. He's going to be missed by so many, many people that loved him."
The Huskie Hustle will begin at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 with a course that will wind through the NIU campus. Registration for the event is open both online and by mail. Registration fee is $30 per person or $100 per team (limit five members per team). Donations will also be accepted.
For complete information about the event, to register or to donate to the fund, visit: www.willmcdermotthuskiehustle.com.
Mundelein alumni soccer game: Kudos to new Mundelein soccer coach Ernie Billittier for organizing and hosting the inaugural MHS soccer alumni game, which took place Saturday at Carl Sandburg after afternoon rain kicked the contest off the varsity stadium grass.
The red squad prevailed 5-4 in penalty kicks, despite minimal contributions from yours truly, who wore a snug-fitting No. 13 jersey.
A couple of dozens "real" players showed up, including recent grad Ashley Begrowicz, Jon Dimitriou, Jesse Piland (he's not just the varsity boys gymnastics coach) and Scott Hill. Billittier, a former Mustang star himself, refereed the game. And, yes, old coach Dave Ekstrom showed up to watch his old players.
With synthetic turf expected to be installed in the stadium following the football season, Billittier hopes to have the alumni game played there next year.
He's looking for more former MHS players, too. If interested, contact him at the high school, (847) 949-2200. Or, heck, just contact me, and I'll pass along your info to Ernie.