To Glenbard East's Burt, milestone a celebration of his 'family'
Glenbard East girls tennis coach Bill Burt got a lot of love out of the Rams' match last Tuesday at West Aurora.
The Rams' 5-2 win was the first against West Aurora since it joined the DuPage Valley Conference in 1997-98. It coincided with Burt's 500th victory in a 30-year coaching career — all 30 with Glenbard East's boys, the last 29 with the girls also.
Like most coaches, he appreciated the congratulatory calls and messages but preferred the attention be placed on his girls.
"That's nice," he said of the landmark, "but I'm really pretty fired up about our team, too."
Glenbard East's No. 1 singles player, freshman Priscilla Palermo, is ranked on the United States Tennis Association circuit. Burt's got a three-sport athlete at No. 2 singles in Angela Kerndl, with Jenny Danan-Cudia at No. 3 singles. Burt said all four doubles teams are playing well, headed by the first two pairings of Wendi Guraziu and Jamie Jemmi, and Mary Kurtz and Nicki Vachlon. Guraziu is the sole senior of this bunch.
They're good players and good people, Burt said, up to 504 career wins entering Wednesday's match against Elk Grove. The first thing the team's seniors wanted to do once the team was selected was congratulate the freshmen who made it.
"I think one of the things that's been very rewarding is we've set up a culture about doing things the right way here at Glenbard East, and when people think of Glenbard East I hope they think of working hard, playing well and going about things with the right approach," Burt said.
"I think it's a culture of cooperation, and I think if that can be what people think of when they hear about Glenbard East tennis, that makes me feel pretty good."
A math teacher, Burt is scheduled to retire after the 2014-15 academic year. He said administration may "twist my arm" to remain as the tennis coach but was more concerned with his next match than two years down the line.
"Long-term plans are not my forte," Burt said.
Long-term impact is. Burt has attended weddings and funerals of former players. He is common among coaches achieving milestones in that he feels it's not the number that's important, it's the people who got him there.
"It just feels like a family," he said, "and that's the part that's really cool."
Better late than never
After all this time Roselle resident Larry Janis wasn't expecting this.
A three-time Mid-American Conference wrestling champion — the first to do that at Miami University in Ohio — Janis graduated in 1964, nearly 50 years ago.
Over the summer he was informed he'd been selected for the Miami University Hall of Fame. He and his eight-person entourage will head to Oxford, Ohio, on Oct. 5. The six Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced at the 50-yard line of the Redhawks' football game against Central Michigan, with dinner and ceremony to follow.
"It really was a shocker because of the length of time," said Janis, 71. "They said, 'Larry, this is just the way it's been.'"
The way it was is the 5-foot-6 Cleveland native won the 137-pound weight class at the MAC meet from 1962-64, helping the Redhawks to the team title as a senior. At the time freshmen were ineligible to compete at the varsity level. Nowadays Janis said he would have had a shot at four titles, since as a freshman he beat his teammate at 137.
Twice advancing out of the 4I tournament — a predecessor to regionals, it sent wrestlers to the national meet — Janis was the first Miami wrestler to win matches at the national meet, as both a sophomore and junior. He injured his knee at the 4I as a senior, his biggest disappointment.
"It was probably my best chance at making a place (at nationals), but that's life," he said.
"I was the underdog in winning the MAC both my sophomore and junior years because (Kent State) had an undefeated guy (Jim Peirson), especially the first year," Janis recalled. "I beat him in overtime and the second year I actually pinned him. That was the highlight, I would say. Winning all three years was a highlight because nobody else had done that."
Janis, whose signature was quick feet, figures he could have given a shot at an Olympic berth were it not for the knee injury. Instead he married Pat, his wife of 48 years. They produced two Lake Park athletes — gymnast Jill (Polezoes) and Brett, a three-time all-state wrestler who won at 105 pounds in 1987 and at 112 in 1988.
A vice president of sales for a manufacturing company in Elk Grove, Janis said he'd go to work "with a bloody lip" after practicing with his son.
"That was great for me, because that was my sport," said Larry, who has a granddaughter, Kayla, on Lake Park's sophomore badminton team.
His sport eventually became cycling. Starting at 50, he and brothers Lenny and Les took biking trips to such places as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Alaska, the Canadian Rockies. They upped the ante with trips to Spain, Corsica, Crete and other European locales. Their last trip was in 2008, to the Alps, when Larry was 66.
"We were sort of like the Three Musketeers," he said.
They reunite next weekend with their sister, Laura. Their parents are deceased but obviously not out of mind.
Larry Janis recalled the rare occasion his parents, Lillian and Louis, saw him wrestle at Miami, the MAC finals his senior year.
"Mom had only seen a few other matches," he said. "She was very reserved, and when I won the last match she ran right into the middle of the mat to give me a hug. You say, what's the highlight of your career? That was probably it right there."
Rally behind Team Swider-Peltz
Nancy and Jeff Swider-Peltz Jr., a pair of Wheaton North graduates and national team-level speed skaters, have joined a crowd-funding website called RallyMe to raise money to help them train, with their ultimate goal making the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Nancy Jr. nearly made the 2006 Winter Olympics and did make it for the 2010 Vancouver Games. She placed ninth in the 3,000-meters and was on the United States' fourth-place team pursuit squad. Jeff, a former football player at Wheaton North and Wheaton College, left the sport to concentrate on speedskating.
Their coach is their mother, Nancy Swider-Peltz, a four-time Olympian. They skate locally and at a facility in Milwaukee. Jeffrey and Nancy Jr. also have a website, teamswiderpeltz.com.
With 27 days left the RallyMe crowd-funding effort (cool swag available) has raised $4,100 toward its goal of $17,500.
Sisters at odds
On Sunday afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, an ultimate grudge match will be held on the volleyball court.
Sophomore setter Jenna Jendryk and the Dayton Flyers will be hosting St. Louis University in an Atlantic 10 Conference women's match. Starting at outside hitter for St. Louis is redshirt senior Jessica Jendryk. Both sisters starred at Benet Academy.
Later next week, Addison Trail teacher Bruce Kelsay and his wife, Mary, can finally see both of their college volleyball-playing daughters in the same gym. They'll be heading to East Lansing, Mich., where on Oct. 4 Michigan State will host Illinois in a Big Ten match. McKenna is a freshman setter for the Illini while older sister Kristen, a senior, is a setter for Michigan State.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1
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