Charity fundraisers have become commonplace in many prep sports, but not so much in golf.
"We're the smallest of the sports in the school. We don't get gate receipts, we get no spectators. So how can we do a fundraiser?" Naperville Central girls golf coach Jane Thompson asked rhetorically.
By involving a bunch of proactive girls. A joint effort of the Naperville North and Naperville Central girls golf teams -- driven by varsity Huskies captains Kelsey Torbik and Elayna Weston and Redhawks counterparts Lauren Santangelo and Lauren Michael -- aims to donate $5,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for breast cancer. The Sept. 18 date for the teams' match at Springbrook Golf Course is nearly a week away and they're about halfway toward their goal.
Thompson had wondered for years how her team could do a charity effort like other Naperville Central athletic teams. When Williams called her in July with an idea, it seemed natural.
"The captains came to me and said they really want to do some kind of charity fundraiser," Williams said. "So many people have been affected by breast cancer, family and friends, so they really wanted to do something with that. It'd be great if we could get Central involved, too, because we'd really like to make this thing a community or District 203 golf event."
Aside from pink hats both teams will wear Sept. 18, the actual match won't look or seem different from any other.
The work to raise funds and awareness has been done in school, door-to-door, in churches and parents' workplaces, on social media, and will continue through Sept. 22. (Donations may be made at passionatelypink.org; go to "Give to a Team" and search for North & Central Girls Golf.) Pledges can also be made at the match itself.
Both programs have placed posters in their schools promoting the cause, and they're selling pink bracelets at $1 a pop.
"They can't sell them fast enough," Williams said.
Golf has become a member of the charitable service club.
"There's something that's beyond just high school sports. I think that's what the football team has shown, what the volleyball team has shown," Thompson said.
"At times we get so focused on competition, on Friday night and whatnot. What we as coaches are trying to do is impart to the kids that there's something beyond the immediate competition."
A shot and a save
He reads a shooter's hips. He checks players' tendencies during warmups. He "makes his body big."
And Naperville Central senior soccer goalie Mike Pavliga collects shutouts, more than any Redhawk in history.
On Sept. 6 the all-sectional keeper made 3 saves in a 3-0 win over West Aurora to record his 25th all-time shutout. On Tuesday he notched No. 27 in a 2-0 win over Glenbard North.
"It feels really good. Ever since my sophomore year on varsity I was looking at that record (Tyler Kelley's 24 from 2006-08) and every game I played I wanted a shutout because I wanted that record," said Pavliga, who helped the Redhawks to the Class 3A runner-up spot last year.
"I give it to the defense and to coach (Troy) Adams because he's the great coach that he is. But it just feels great."
Pavliga began playing at around 4 years old, starting as a forward. About three years later he moved to goal. The rest is history.
With his Galaxy club team in July, Pavliga earned a United States Youth Soccer Association Under-17 National Championship Series Top 11 pick (along with Redhawks teammate Pat Flynn) as Galaxy won the national title.
His four shutouts in South Carolina rank among his favorites, with last fall's 2-0 win over Quincy in the Class 3A supersectional and a recent 1-0 shutout over Benet to win the Best of the West title.
His lucky charm is a St. Michael's pendant he wears on a necklace. High school officials deny jewelry in play but like an opponent's shot, it's never too far from Pavliga's reach.
"I keep it in my bag and make sure it's always with me," he said. "I never leave it at home, that's for sure."
The long baby blue line
Downers Grove South has a history of dominating the West Suburban Gold in football and, with Proviso East, in boys basketball. The Mustangs aren't doing badly in girls cross country, either.
When Katie Strelau, Amanda Thate, Amy Rotunno, Haley Albers, Meaghan Bosman, Abby Kargol and Jordyn Baylark-Rasul crossed the finish line in the first seven spots to win Monday's dual meet over Leyden, 15-50, it extended Downers South's conference winning streak to 79th straight meets.
No milquetoast, just a sportsman
Ryan Coyle is at Illinois Wesleyan now, a freshman on the men's basketball team, but in August the St. Francis graduate was named a winner of the Illinois High School Association's 2011-12 Do What's Right Sports Person of the Year award. It came a year after fellow Spartan Kelly McShea earned the honor for 2010-11.
"It basically spoke to the kid being a high-quality kid," said Spartans boys basketball coach Bob Ward.
Ward recalled potentially inflammatory moments last season that Coyle diffused. One came in a Suburban Christian Conference game in a packed gym, where Ward said an opponent twice swung an elbow at a St. Francis player, knocking him down the second time. The St. Francis player got up, looking to get even.
"Coyle was able to calm him down, get him away from the situation and calm his teammates down, because we had guys who wanted to go after (the opponent)," Ward said. "I think it was not only his calming presence there but also, I think, the other team had great respect for him. What would have been an ugly situation, he took care of."
Ward also recalled a testy spot in the Spartans' sectional final game, again smoothed over by Coyle, who graduated as St. Francis' all-time leading scorer.
Ward called Coyle a fierce competitor who retained his sportsmanship despite a broken collarbone and serious concussion after having his legs taken out from under him in a July 2011 AAU game.
"He's no milquetoast, no Kumbaya guy," Ward said.
"I only coached him for one year, but he just had a maturity (that) in situations like that he did the right thing. And that's the name of the award. I think he encompasses what the IHSA is looking to do with that."