How do you attract 144 golfers at the drop of a hat?
Present a benefit golf event in the name of Phil Lawler, the Naperville Central pitching coach and lifelong educator who died of cancer in 2010.
That's what his daughter did. The golfers? They came running.
The first of what event chairwoman Kim (Lawler) Marino plans on being an annual event, the Batting 4 A Cure Golf Outing, Sept. 28 at Tamarack Golf Course in Naperville, is already booked solid with 36 foursomes. It's anchored by Redhawks past and present such as former baseball coach Bill Seiple and current coach Mike Stock.
"It's a mix of old and young," Marino said.
The event supports the new Phil Lawler Batting 4 A Cure Foundation and will donate proceeds to the Edward Cancer Center in Naperville. From there, Marino said funds will be allocated to patients who can't afford medication, therapy and even incidentals such as transportation to the hospital.
"This is a growing foundation," Marino said. "All the money is going back to the cancer community and we're here to help the Naperville cancer community, and 100 percent (of golf outing proceeds) goes to the patients. This is volunteer work for us."
The golf outing may be sold out, but places for the 7 p.m. dinner at Tamarack are not. Cost per person is a modest $25, and information may be had at www.batting4acure.com. Donations to the foundation also are accepted.
The late Mr. Lawler's No. 29 uniform number flies on a pennant overlooking Naperville Central's baseball field. He was a 1997 inductee into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association, the first assistant coach honored. While kindly dispensing knowledge of pitching and baseball in general, his five-year fight against cancer helped inspire the Redhawks to win baseball titles in 2006 and 2010. The state summer league tournament is named the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
Of course, he was much more than that.
"I know he was my father," Kim Marino said, "but he was one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life."
His compassion for children extended beyond his own: Kim, Scott and Todd. Scott is Benet's baseball coach, Todd an assistant.
In the first chapter of the 2011 book, "Game Changer: Phil Lawler's Crusade to Help Children by Improving Physical Education," the one-time Iowa farm boy was quoted as saying that for about the first half of his 30-year career he "wasn't a very good teacher."
He made up for it at Madison Junior High as well as working with PE4life, a nonprofit that develops children's fitness programs targeting childhood obesity. He and the program earned acclaim for a life-fitness approach; in 2002 USA Today named him to the "First Team All-American Teaching Team," the first PE instructor chosen. In addition to producing an initial PE4life book in 2006, Lawler appeared in the 2004 Academy Award-nominated documentary, "Super Size Me."
"He was all about the future of physical education," Kim Marino said.
An admitted control freak, Kim said the inability to do anything about her father's cancer, and his ultimate demise, left her devastated. Working with friends Ann Dana, Mark Sweda and Nick DiGiovanni to organize this charity golf outing has made her feel "a little more powerful," she said.
"I had to change my emotion about his death, I needed to turn this around and make it a positive thing in my life," Marino said.
There are 144 golfers and three decades of Naperville students who would say, Well done.
The long green and blue lines
Once again the county is nicely represented in this week's Illinois Cross Country Coaches Poll, both boys and girls.
In the category of what's new, York is the No. 1 ranked boys team, followed by the Red Devils of Hinsdale Central. Downers Grove North pulls in at No. 6, Nolan McKenna and Wheaton Warrenville South at No. 8, Neuqua Valley at No. 10 and Lake Park at No. 15.
The girls poll is heavy at the top with DuPage teams. Elly DeTurris and defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North sit at No. 1 with Glenbard West right behind. Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central and Downers South are Nos. 4, 6 and 7 with WW South tied at No. 11 with Schaumburg.
Speaking of Hinsdale Central ...
At its Sept. 16 board of directors meeting, the IHSA approved a recommendation that the boys state gymnastics finals be held there May 16-17, 2014. Lincoln-Way East had hosted the big meet the last five years.
Better late than never
We should mention that this summer Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo won the United States Youth Soccer Association Under-18 national championship in Overland Park, Kan. Naperville North graduate Zoe Swift, now at Kentucky, scored the game-winning goal to defeat defending champion VSA Heat out of Virginia.
Graduates Gianna Dal Pozzo (Neuqua Valley), Jenna Romano (Waubonsie Valley) and Bryce Banuelos (York) each were named All-Tournament Top 11, coach Phil Nielsen reported.
What's nice about Botafogo is each of the girls played for their high school teams all four years, Nielsen said. In addition to the players mentioned above, the U18 group included: Megan Geldernick (Metea Valley); Hope D'Addario, Katie Ciesiulka and Brooke Ksiazek (Neuqua Valley); Karla DiJohn, Kendall Wilde and Rachele Armand (Waubonsie Valley); and Alexis Jakuszewski and Dana Miller (WW South),
Unleash the Dragon
IC Catholic graduate Demetrius Carr enjoyed a great collegiate debut for the Minnesota State University-Moorhead Dragons football team.
In a losing cause at Augustana (S.D.) on Sept. 7, Carr completed 30 of 45 passes for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns. He threw another pass fumbled near the goal line and recovered in the end zone for touchdown. Those numbers earned Carr notice as the Dragons' male athlete of the week.
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