St. Viator boys volleyball coach Chris Boylan gave setter Brennan Harrington one of the best compliments you can give a high school athlete.
"Brennan," said Boylan, "has helped change the culture of our program.
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"He's just a class athlete. I respect everything he's about and am extremely proud of the way he has represented himself, his teammates, his family, his school and the community."
Boylan and the senior's teammates had a lot to be happy about in 2013, as the Lions roared to their best season ever with a 24-8 overall mark. Harrington was a big part of the success in earning all-area captaincy honors.
The setter finished the year with 749 assists, a St. Viator school record. He ended his career with 1,348 helpers, another school mark; hit 51 season kills, served 12 aces, had 223 digs and was named all-league in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Harrington, who Boylan says "makes everyone on his team better," also had Viator in the running for the East Suburban Catholic Conference title for most of the year before the Lions fell just short.
"With all of the seniors we had returning," said Harrington, "I knew it was going to be a good year, and we started to realize that in our very first match of the season at Barrington.
"They took home the third-place trophy at state the year before, and even though at the time we weren't clicking as well as we could have been -- it took us a while to mesh -- we still took the Broncos to three games on their home floor."
Harrington played in a few varsity matches as sophomore before becoming a full-time starter in his junior campaign, and he gives a lot of the credit for his interest in the sport to his mother, Julissa, who enjoyed a stellar prep career as an outside hitter at Hammond High School in Indiana.
The senior learned the game at Saint Zachary grade school, where he says he "started to excel," and quickly blossomed at St. Viator into one of the state's premier players.
"From day one as a freshman," said Boylan, "Brennan showed his love and passion for the game. He was always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.
"His work ethic is one of the best to ever come through Viator in any program. From working out daily with our strength coach (Matt Saey) in the off-season to playing club ball, he's been our team leader."
Harrington has signed on to attend and play volleyball in the fall at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa after going through the recruiting process, and will study business or engineering in addition to showing his skills on the court.
"Moving on to college is bittersweet," said the senior. "I'm very happy about my choice but it's kind of sad to know my high school days are at an end."
And when asked of his best memory as his days as a Lion, Harrington had no trouble pinpointing his favorite moment.
"When we beat Marist at home last year," said the senior. "They're a great team and they had recently won the state championship (in 2010) but we were able to take it to them and win the match.
"I've never seen anything like it. There was such incredible energy in our gym, there were a ton of people and the place was going nuts. That gave us the confidence to know we could compete against anyone."
Harrington adds that now, after achieving all his personal goals in prep volleyball and most of the team goals as well (the Lions advanced all the way to a regional final in this year's postseason), he feels like he and his classmates have made their mark.
"It's great to know that we stepped up and had the best record of any team at Viator," said the senior. "I feel like we left a legacy for the teams that come after us to live up to."