St. Francis junior Jeffrey Jendryk, in just his second year playing volleyball, is a fast learner.
During tryouts for his first club team one of the coaches approached his father, Jeff, and asked how long his son had been playing the sport.
"I looked at my watch and said, 'About 15 minutes.'" the senior Jendryk said.
There is much to be said about genes, determination, athleticism, observation and, when playing at the net in volleyball, height. St. Francis' Jendryk has it all.
"I pretty much learned playing volleyball from my sisters, when I had to go to their tournaments when I was really little," said the 17-year-old, a 6-foot-7 basketball convert who sprouted 6 inches since his freshman year.
Jessica Jendryk, a redshirt junior outside hitter at Illinois, will graduate in May and continue playing at St. Louis University. Right-side hitter Jenna Jendryk is ending her freshman year at Dayton. Each earned All-America honors at Benet.
"Honestly," Jeffrey said, "I think it was just watching them hours and hours, over and over when I was little kid. I guess I was a natural when I started playing. I kind of knew the basics of what to do."
Natural ability and instincts have propelled him to a lofty position. After a February tryout, late last month the middle hitter became one of 19 players nationwide selected for USA Volleyball's Boys Youth National Training Team. A final 12 will be chosen to represent the country in the World Championships in Mexico this summer. The bad news is that falls at the same time as the national championships for his club team, Sports Performance 18 Mizuno (Jeffrey plays up a year). The first year with Sports Performance his team finished fifth in the country.
"To be honest at the beginning (of USA tryouts) I thought there's no way, I'm not that good. But after watching film of myself, I have really good technique and I can put the ball away," he said.
"When I did make it I was really excited, and I wish I could go and try to be on that team, but I can't because it interferes with my club nationals."
Sounding like a Cubs fan, the Wheaton resident said, "Maybe next year."
Possible. Already owning college offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Loyola and Ball State with plenty of interest elsewhere, he touches 11-5 and doctors project he could grow to 6-10. But you can't measure desire.
"He just loves the sport," the senior Jendryk said. "I think he's more devoted to volleyball than his sisters because he realizes what he has."
Red-letter day for Spartan blue
The same day Jeffrey Jendryk made the USA Youth National Team, St. Francis student Shea Mahoney, a freshman from Algonquin, competed in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic state meet. She was named all-around champion for Level 10 and advances to the Region 5 competition this weekend in Dimondale, Mich.
Chairmen of the boards
Waubonsie Valley's state champion girls bowling team will be honored at the Aurora City Council meeting Tuesday, April 23. Aurora 8th Ward Alderman Rick Mervine helped facilitate the event.
Coach Marty Miller and the Warriors, in full uniform, will have a brief audience with Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner before the meeting, and the council will acknowledge them once in session.
It took a few seconds for reality to dawn on West Chicago boys track coach Paul McLeland that a setback befell the Wildcats' top bid for a downstate qualifier.
Senior Tim Linhardt, an 800-meter prospect, sprained an ankle playing basketball while on spring break, significant enough to require a walking boot. He told McLeland April 1.
"It was April Fools' Day, so I thought it was an April Fool's joke," the coach said.
Fortunately, Linhardt was back running by Monday.
In with the new
Groundbreaking for IC Catholic Prep's new Plunkett Athletic Complex will start with ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Knights' property on West Street in Elmhurst. This is about a few weeks earlier than previously planned.
The plan for Plunkett, at least Phase 1 of the multimillion-dollar effort, will include turfing over the football field, the baseball field and a practice space adjacent to each. The rehab should allow for play beginning this fall.
Last Saturday was the swan song for several IC teams to play on their own grass surface. They made the most of it -- sophomore softball and baseball games, girls varsity soccer and boys varsity lacrosse.
As usual following a college roundup column like last week's, helpful readers pointed out local athletes we missed, such as ...
Indiana University sophomore Kyle Rickert (Naperville Central) led the Hoosiers water polo club to second place in the Big Ten Conference, one win shy of qualifying for the national championships. He was named Big Ten player of the year and a second-team All-America in the club division by the Collegiate Water Polo Association.
Brothers also from Naperville Central, Jeff and Chris Depew of the University of Redlands, finished 1-2 in the 200 individual medley at the NCAA Division III swimming championships. Jeff, a sophomore, successfully defended last season's national title, lowering his school record to 1:47.20 in the process. Jeff Depew also had honorable-mention All-America swims in the 100 and 200 backstroke, plus another school record, and swam on four honorable-mention All-America relays. Individually Chris added a fourth in the 400 IM and a fifth in the 200 fly. Between Jeff and Chris Depew, a senior, they hold seven Redlands records and have combined for 28 All-America or honorable-mention honors.
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