Welcome to the big leagues.
Well, soon enough. Scheduled for Wednesday at Geneva, Batavia's boys lacrosse match was canceled like most every other outdoor event this week.
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When the Bulldogs return to action after spring break on April 2 at St. Charles East, it'll mark their first game in the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association after five years in the Northern Illinois Lacrosse League. The difference is the IHSLA is the group whose schools have signed the Illinois High School Association's emerging sport agreement, also the group from which the A level IHSLA state champion and B level Lacrosse Cup champions are determined.
"We're not going to make any bones about it, we're in the B level to start. I'd love to get into the A division but that'll take some time," said Batavia coach Scott Salvati.
"But the cool thing is this is the fastest growing sport in the United States (and) it's cool to see the kids pick it up and succeed, try something new and succeed, something that challenges them."
There's no shame in B status. Of the nine teams in the Upstate Eight Conference, which includes Belvidere along with many of the traditional UEC teams, five of them are B teams including a Geneva squad which made the 2012 Lacrosse Cup semifinals. St. Charles North and St. Charles East are A-level as are Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley. Only two seasons ago Waubonsie Valley was the Lacrosse Cup champion.
The bottom line for Salvati was playing greater competition than could be found in the co-op-based NILAX. A St. Charles High School graduate, Salvati initially started coaching this team when it was a club out of Aurora Christian. At that time he had a son, Zack, on the team. Now he's got another on the Batavia squad, Nick, a freshman goalie on the frosh-soph squad.
Batavia practices at Rotolo Middle School, where the frosh-soph team plays its games. The varsity splits its games between Rotolo and Batavia.
"There's going to be some games we get our butt handed to us," Scott Salvati said, "but we have to look at those as learning, and you only get better by playing better teams, you don't get better by playing cream puffs.
"That's one of the main reasons we moved over, is we heard that a lot of the good teams were leaving NILAX, and that doesn't make the guys better, so let's bring it."
Batavia brings a roster of 18 on the frosh-soph squad and 19 on varsity. Varsity captains are senior Max Jaeger and juniors Jason Cahill, Ryan Murphy and Pat Collins, the goalie. Jaeger is one of only three seniors on the squad along with Matt Hoef and Evan Hinkle. With the possibility of a third level next season, this program is built for the future.
The future IHSA sanctioning of the sport is still up in the air. The IHSA in 2009 approved a state series for 2011 but at the time there were not enough teams to meet the IHSA's criteria of 65 boys teams and 40 girls teams. The IHSLA now lists 84 boys teams, but mainly due to the current economic climate, schools have yet to bring the sport in-house.
Salvati believes lacrosse will gain IHSA sanctioning within the next two years. Meanwhile, he appreciates all Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews has done to support lacrosse, including awarding varsity letters.
"We didn't expect that (forming a school team) to happen for a couple years," Salvati said. "We're super, super happy that he was able to do that and pull us in."
Now, to get in a game during this protracted winter.
"We were looking forward to (Wednesday) night because it was going to be an absolute barometer of where we are," Salvati said.
Kaneland boys basketball coach Brian Johnson has been named head coach for the North squad at the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 3A/4A All-Star Game, June 29 at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center.
"I've put in some time in the IBCA the last few years and they just approached me with the thought of coaching the team," said Johnson, an assistant on the IBCA board of directors for his district. Geneva coach Phil Ralston and West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman, a past IBCA president, are the board members for District 5, which takes in Kane and DeKalb counties.
"It's obviously a great honor. There have been some great coaches from the past who've coached the team," Johnson said. "And just to be considered by the IBCA and to be part of the event means a lot. It's just a tremendous honor."
Now, to build a team. He and assistant North coach Lance Huber, from Dundee-Crown, have a list of about 20 seniors culled from the IBCA all-state teams. Locally, they potentially include Second Team member Josh McAuley of West Aurora, Fourth-Team member Jontrel Walker also from West and Special Mention players such as St. Charles North's Quinten Payne, St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens -- who may be ready after his January shoulder surgery -- and Kaneland's own Matt Limbrunner.
Johnson will probably start with the likes of Simeon's Jabari Parker. The problem is players like the Duke-bound Parker, Loyola recruit Payne, Purdue's Stephens and others may need to be on the college campuses. Johnson has already sent out some "feeler" emails.
"I'm probably going to have to make some trips to places," he said.
Some of these all-star games, the coach can just throw a ball out and watch except for making substitutions. Johnson will take a wait-and-see approach.
"I'm sure I'll get into the game when it starts," he said. "It's hard to just sit there and do nothing. The main thing is for the kids to have a good time, but make sure that they're also competitive."
Batavia 2007 graduate Mike Garrity, a two-way lineman on the Bulldogs' 2006 football Class 6A runner-up, will be back on an area field Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Garrity is an offensive lineman with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. The Chicago Rush hosts Iowa at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Allstate Arena.
The 24-year-old Garrity, who last year had a tryout with the Bears, has suffered a plethora of injuries since graduating from Batavia, through college stops at Illinois and Eastern Illinois and even a stint with Iowa last season.
He's one of several familiar names for both Iowa and Chicago. The Barnstormers are coached by Mike Hohensee, the "spare Bear" quarterback during the 1987 NFL strike and a longtime Rush coach who led the team to the Arena Bowl title in 2006. Along with Garrity on his line, Hohensee has Wheaton Warrenville South graduate Dace Richardson.
The Rush counter with Glenbard East's Derek Walker on the defensive line, and Willowbrook's Colin Madison on the offensive line. Chicago is coached by Immaculate Conception grad Bob McMillen, named one of the 20 greatest Arena League players in history.
In its first season of play, Aurora University's women's lacrosse team won its first match in history on Tuesday, 7-4 over Beloit at Aurora's Vago Field.
Sophomore midfielder Danielle Hernandez, out of Aurora Central Catholic, scored an unassisted goal 28 seconds into the second half to give the Spartans a 5-2 lead.
The Spartans may be 1-5, but entering Saturday's home game against Carthage College they are 1-0 in the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference.
Bracket buster buster
Here we digress, since most everyone reading this is probably into NCAA Men's Basketball pools.
R.J. Bell of Las Vegas-based Pregame.com assembled some mind-boggling numbers that can be enjoyed by the more than 100 million people who participate in tournament bracket contests.
Assuming a 64-team bracket, there are more than 9.2 quintillion possible bracket combinations that could be filled out. That's a million times 9 trillion, or roughly the national debt.
If everyone on Earth filled out a bracket, the odds would still be 1 billion to one against any one person having a perfect bracket.
If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 billion years to compile all possible combinations which, Bell notes, is 20 times longer than the universe has existed.
If all people on Earth filled out a bracket every second, it would take 43 years to fill out every possible bracket.
To-the-moon-and-backs are always fun: If all possible brackets filled out on standard paper were stacked on top of each other the pile would go to the moon and back 1.1 million times.
With the 68-team bracket, multiply these figures by four, Bell said.
Bell also offers some nifty tips for choosing your brackets. Those are excluded here, unnecessary since Indiana will be the easy winner.
Or it will become the first No. 1 seed to lose a No. 16 seed.
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