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updated: 3/21/2013 4:54 PM

Carmel's Felicelli itching to give winter the boot

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  • Carmel's Kathleen Felicelli tries to make the play as Lakes' Megan Milewski slides into second base last season in Mundelein.

       Carmel's Kathleen Felicelli tries to make the play as Lakes' Megan Milewski slides into second base last season in Mundelein.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

The break must pain, like a swift kick in the shin.

For the last four weeks, Kathleen Felicelli, one of the best female athletes in Lake County, hasn't been able to be Kathleen Felicelli, one of the best female athletes in Lake County.

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A girl has a new boot, but it's not a fashion statement.

The wounded Felicelli has been wearing a walking boot on her left foot. She'd love to kick it off and replace it with a basketball or tennis sneaker or -- specifically at this time of the year -- a softball cleat.

The time off, due to a stress fracture in her tibia, is a put-off for her.

"It's the first time I've had a break in a long, long time," said Felicelli, a Carmel Catholic junior who attacks nets on tennis and basketball courts, and pounds softballs pitched to her. "It's been weird not doing anything or not exercising for the past four weeks."

Wednesday marked her fourth week in the walking boot. If her checkup with her doctor that day went well, she could be on a softball field soon, looking to pick up where she left off last season, when she launched a school-record 12 home runs.

Carmel has no games scheduled over Spring Break next week. Two games have already been canceled due to our January chill and frozen diamonds. So by the time the Corsairs play their season opener, it's possible Felicelli will be ready to play having not missed a single game.

Great for the Corsairs.

Great for Felicelli.

"I can't really do much," the slugging shortstop said. "I've been throwing the past week just to warm up my arm and make sure I'm ready to go when I'm able. I've just been going to practice and watching."

She got a taste of boredom during the basketball season, when her injury kept her from participating in every minute of every practice. It was about late November, when the season was just getting going, that she felt pain in her calf. She wore a calf brace and iced when she wasn't practicing or playing games.

She limped through practices before coach Kelly Perz finally told her to stop and go see Trainer Dan.

"It was like a daily thing," Felicelli said with a laugh.

She toughed it out, though, because that's Kathleen Felicelli. When you come from a family of athletes -- older brothers Matt and Kenny played football for Carmel, Mom twirled a baton and Dad was a high school jock too -- you don't complain about muscle aches or bruises. Nor do you whine about the physical and mental grind of playing three varsity sports, all while being an A student.

"I like that Kathleen plays three sports," Carmel softball coach Jason Raymond said. "I think all three sports complement each other. She stays in tremendous shape year-round and doesn't seem to get burned out by just specializing in one sport. I think anyone who has played high school sports or been around them has a lot of respect for athletes like Kathleen. They put so much time into athletics and academics. They never have an off-season. There are just not to many varsity three-sport athletes around anymore -- especially athletes the caliber of Kathleen."

Felicelli played the entire basketball season and picked up All-East Suburban Catholic Conference and Daily Herald All-Area honors. She averaged a team-best 10 points per game for a 20-win squad and, as always, played with passion.

A few days after the basketball season, an MRI revealed the bad news.

That was no calf injury. Her tibia was in bad shape.

"I guess it was kind of funny because no one thought it was that bad," Felicelli said. "After we found out, it was like, 'Oh, wow, she just played the season on almost a broken leg.' "

She plays hard, nonstop. No wonder she developed tendinitis in her right wrist during the tennis season. Late last fall, with basketball season approaching, the injury to her shooting hand shut her down, keeping her out of the conference and sectional tournaments. She had played No. 1 doubles with Michelle Kannenberg.

"We had a really good season," Felicelli said. "We had only a couple of losses."

As good as she is at swinging a tennis racket, she might be better at swinging a softball bat. She's been the Corsairs' starting shortstop since her freshman year, when she hit 4 homers.

"Of course, I am biased, but I believe softball is her best sport," Raymond said. "Kathleen is a complete softball player. She can run, hit for average, hit for power, and plays a dynamite shortstop. Not only is she tremendously skilled, but Kathleen is one of the hardest-working athletes that I have ever had the opportunity to coach. She is extremely competitive and always expects excellence out of herself."

She takes pride in her academics, too. She's considering studying business in college -- and tabling her passion for competitive sports.

"I haven't really thought about playing any of my sports in college," Felicelli said. "Softball would probably be the most possible one for me to play in college, but I really don't know if I would rather play college softball at a littler school or go to like a Big Ten school around here (and not play softball). It's kind of a tough decision."

Whatever choice she makes, she can handle it.

jaguilar@dailyherald.com

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