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updated: 8/30/2013 12:13 AM

Amarino nets Hall of Fame accolade

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By Jonathan Cregier

Harper College men's basketball coach Tony Amarino has earned a spot in the NJCAA Region IV Hall of Fame.

"I'm proud (of just being nominated)," the coach said.

The school will honor Amarino with a ceremony during the season opener against Judson College on Nov. 4.

After spending 15 seasons coaching at Morton College, Amarino left for Harper mainly because the Hawks offered him a full-time position at the school. Amarino is entering his eighth season as Harper's head coach.

"I appreciate it," Amarino said of the attention. "When you're respected by your peers, that's a pretty big thing."

Hawks fans have plenty of opportunities to watch their team play at home early in the season. Harper, which finished 13-14 overall and 6-8 in the North Central Community College Conference last season, will play eight of its first 10 games at the Sports and Wellness Center on the Palatine campus.

Kay will play:

After three baseball seasons at three different schools, Harper College outfielder Cory Kay found a way to stay in the game.

He has accepted a scholarship to Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

Kay commited to the Bears after a trip to the school in early July. The outfielder had interest from several other NCAA Division I schools.

"I wanted to spend my last two years at a place I enjoy," he said.

The Bears coaching staff has high expectations of the former Hawk and Houston Cougar.

"They expect me to come in and compete and ready to start," Kay said.

Kay is coming off a successful second season with the Thunder Bay Bearcats, based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, in the Northwoods League. He hit .257 in 59 games.

"I had an awesome host family," Kay said of his time across the border.

In his college quest, Kay got an assist from older brother Brett, who was 10th-round pick by the San Fransisco Giants in MLB's June draft.

"His experience in the Missouri Valley was something I looked back on," said the youngest of three brothers who attended St. Viator. "That's where you go learn and mature."

Working hard:

The distinguishing trait for the Harper College men's soccer team this fall is its work ethic.

Three weeks into practice, coach Jason Diebold is praising his team's preparedness.

"When they get into tight situations, it's not (going to be) a team that falls apart," he said. "Getting a team on the same page at the junior college level can sometimes be difficult, especially early in the season. But Diebold suggests his team is "already jelling. I have a really good feeling about this team."

After last season's 3-11 finish, Diebold has implemented a new 3-5-2 formation in preseason. The reason for the formation change is because of the team's midfield depth.

The tactical change may not be permanent, according to the coach. But no matter the formation, Diebold calls the talent level on the roster better than what he's seen in the last five years.

Last year's starter in goal, Sean Cox (Conant), is back for his sophomore year. Diebold calls him a "bona fide leader."

Other familiar faces include Andy Criollo (who was effective in the 2011 season) along with Eric Aylia and Ramon Gonzalez. Gonzalez will see most of his time coming off the bench; the well-rounded player can play up top or on the backline.

Diebold also expects the freshman class to contribute. Starsky Carella will patrol the Harper midfield along with Ryan Murphy.

Of Murphy, Diebold said he's "a viable (goal-scoring) threat. There's not enough good things to say about him."

Another change Harper will incur this season is the schedule. Diebold has trimmed the number of regular-season games the team will play to 10.

Despite Wednesday's 5-0 loss, in the conference opener. Diebold has high expectations for his hard-working group.

"I'd like to see the national tournament this year with this team," he said.

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