Former Palatine and Oakton baseball standout Joe Walsh had quite the summer.
“It was the scariest, most frustrating and exciting summer my parents and I have ever had,” he said.
And when it was over, Walsh was a member of the University of Iowa baseball team. He committed to the Hawkeyes this summer.
“Playing Division 1 Baseball has been a dream of mine since I was little,” he said “We used to go to spring training in Arizona during spring break and we would always visit Arizona State. We would also go to Northwestern games during the season so that’s probably why my goal was to play in Arizona or the Big Ten.”
Walsh, the 2013 NJCAA Region IV Player of the Year, is thrilled his baseball career is continuing after a serious injury last spring.
He had put together impressive numbers at the plate and on the mound for Oakton and needed just six more outs to preserve a 1-run lead in the Region IV Division II Sectional Tournament title game at Black Hawk College in Moline.
However, a player from Black Hawk hit a line drive up the middle. Walsh tried but had no time to get out of the way and the ball hit him on the side of the head and just above the temple.
Walsh wound up suffering a fractured skull and a concussion and eventually had to be airlifted from a hospital in Moline to a Trauma I center in Peoria, where he stayed for three days.
Fortunately, he’s been on the road to recovery and playing baseball again.
“I ended up playing about 8 games this summer after getting cleared and I struggled early,” he said. “It took a long time for me to feel 100 percent.”
Walsh saw many top concussion and head trauma specialists who work for the Blackhawks, Bears, Chicago Rush and Fire.
“They said with what happened to me this spring many doctors would have told me my baseball career would be over,” he said. “ I never thought it would be over and couldn’t wait to start hitting again with my dad.
“I always planned I would keep playing and probably started hitting earlier than I should have because I would get headaches quickly and had to stop before I wanted to.”
Walsh’s summer recruiting had its twists and turns.
He had Division I offers from Arizona, Tennessee and Indiana State.
“I loved coach Heller at Indiana State and committed to Indiana State,” Walsh said. “Three days later, coach Heller left and took the job at the University of Iowa.”
“Since other schools had recruited me and how important my junior year was baseball-wise, I didn’t want to play for a coach I didn’t know so I asked for my release,” Walsh said. “My family and I waited, or should I say panicked, for almost 3 weeks.
“Thankfully, they (Indiana State) granted me my full release so I committed to Arizona.”
Two days later, Walsh learned that 13 of his 60 credits did not transfer to Arizona, leaving him at 47 credits.
“You need 48 credits to be NCAA eligible,” Walsh said. “Coach Heller at Iowa was still interested so I accepted a scholarship to Iowa and I couldn’t be happier.”
Walsh said he lost over 25 pounds due to being bed ridden for three weeks this summer.
“So I feel I am a little behind,” he said. “I have gained 15 back and have been working very hard with my strength coach and nutritionist to get to where I want to be.”
He has received a lot of help this summer from his parents, sister, grandparents and coach Paul Belo at Palatine.
“I talked with coach Belo many times about my decision this summer and he helped me a lot,” Walsh said. “If it wasn’t for those people this would not be possible.”
Because he committed so late to Iowa, Walsh had a hard time finding housing.
“There were no dorms available,” said Walsh, a business major. “We went down three days before school started with all my furniture and we didn’t even have a lease signed.
“We had a couple of places in mind but were not sure they would still be available. I ended up finding a house right next to campus that opened up the morning we went down to Iowa.”
Erik Dieckman, Brian McKay and the 1985 badminton team are the 2013 Palatine High School Hall of Fame inductees.
Ÿ Dieckman, a 1994 graduate, captained the cross country team to second place in the 1993 state meet. In track and field, he was third in the mile run as a junior and won the state title as a senior in 1994. Dieckman ran at North Central College on national championship teams in cross country and track and was a national champion in Division 3 cross country and three-time all-American in track.
McKay, a 1984 graduate, was a conference champion six times in swimming. He was a four-time sectional champ, state qualifier all four years and state finalist six times.
McKay was all-state two years, winning the state title in 1984 in the 100-yard freestyle and being named Illinois Senior Swimmer of the Year.
He went on to star at Texas and Ohio State and was a 12-time national qualifier and two-time Olympic Trials qualifier and national champion in the 400-meter freestyle.
McKay actually has ties to Daily Herald high school sports editor Aaron Gabriel, a former Wisconsin Big Ten champion swimmer (1,650 and 500-yard freestyles).
In the 1983 IHSA state swim meet, Gabriel (St. Charles High School) and McKay were rivals in the 200-yard free, swimming in the chamionship heat. They finished third and fourth respectively in the event.
Ÿ The 1985 state badminton championship team was first team championship in any sport at Palatine. The team was coached by Kathy Crandall, a four-time IHSA Coach of the Year and member of the IHSA Hall of Fame and Palatine Athletic Hall of Fame.
Longtime Rolling Meadows wrestling coach Dave Froelich, a former East Leyden and Northwestern all-American wrestling standout, will be honored with a retirement party on Saturday, Dec. 28 following the home wrestling meet which begins 5:30 p.m.
The event will be held at Westwood Tavern (1385 N Meacham Road) in Schaumburg.
Froehlich has served as the head wrestling coach for 36 years, 18 years as a track and cross country coach and 14 years as the boy’s athletic director.
Tickets for the party are $32 per person or $52 if you bring a guest. Those prices cover the facility, food and a gift for the coach’s retirement.
For more information contact: Jim Suchecki at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pete Froehlich at Pfroehlich@Wintrustmortgage.com.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, six individuals and one Artman Award winner will be inducted into the 2013 Saint Viator/Sacred Heart of Mary Hall of Fame.
The 2013 individual inductees are Steve Benz (1981), Dave Efken (1978), Lauren Weber Gaeger (2003), Bill Griffin (1969), Michael Howland (1998) and Thomas Nolan (1998).
The Robert C. Artman Award winner is Joe Rooney.
The Hall of Fame Dinner will on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m.
Valparaiso University senior linebacker Patrick Derbak (Schaumburg) was selected to the fourth Annual FCS Senior Scout Bowl in Myrtle Beach South Carolina on Dec. 21.
Derbak has been a starter at linebacker since midway through his freshman year and is a two-time all-conference selection.
The committee recognizes the top four players in each position each year. Many players who have participated in the FCS Senior Bowl have gone on to play in the NFL.
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association has recognized nine members of the Fighting Illini softball program as All-America Scholar Athletes for the 2012-13 academic year.
One of them is former Conant all-area shortstop Allie Bauch, now a sophomore for the Illini.
Illinois is one of five Big Ten programs to garner Scholar Athlete honors, tying with Northwestern for the most honorees, at nine.
The Hersey Girls Feeder Basketball tryouts will be held Sunday November 3rd and 10th at Hersey High School. All girls in grades 8, 7 & 6 that are living in the Hersey attendance area are invited to try out. Times are as follows on both dates: 8th Grade from 4:30 — 5:45 p.m.; 7th Grade from 6:00 — 7:15 p.m.; and 6th Grade from 7:30 — 8:45 p.m. This program does not interfere with middle school basketball teams. Please arrive 15 minutes early to register. Bring your own basketball. For further questions, contact Coach Pihl at email@example.com.
The Buffalo Grove Boys Feeder Basketball Program will hold tryouts for 5th, 6th, 7th,& 8th grade teams on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Buffalo Grove High School. Boys trying out are expected to attend both days. All players trying out must live in the Buffalo Grove attendance area. Parents are required to register their son upon drop-off at 6 p.m. on the 26th and asked to return by 8 p.m. Practice begins the week of Nov. 11 and the season ends mid-March. For additional information, please contact the Buffalo Grove Athletic Department at (847) 718-4020.
Tryouts for the St. Viator feeder basketball team are Sunday, Oct. 20 at St. Viator High School: 5 & 6th grade from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; 7th grade from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 8th grade from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
St. Viator is at 1213 E. Oakton Street in Arlington Heights (use Dryden Ave. entrance, door is marked 20W). All girls interested are encouraged to attend. All girls who believe they may attend St. Viator High are eligible to try out. The season runs until late March, just prior to spring break. Any questions, contact
Tom Hohenadel at firstname.lastname@example.org or John Moynihan (847-477-3919) at email@example.com.
The Wheeling Junior Wildcats boys feeder basketball program will hold team tryouts on Sunday, Nov. 3 in the high school main gym.
Any boy living in the Wheeling High School attendance area is welcome to try out.
Times are 9 a.m.. (8th grade), 10:30 a.m. (7th grade), noon (5th and 6th grade). Please arrive 15 minutes early to check in. Any questions contact Spiro Roberts at WHSBOYSFEEDER@gmail.com.
Registration for the Jr. Cougar Wrestling Club will be held at Conant High School on Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the wrestling room (enter through Door 19). Any student in first through eighth grade can join the team. Registration forms and team information is available online at www.jrcougars.com. The cost for the entire season is $160. Wrestlers will need a copy of their birth certificate and practices will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 6:15 p.m. and will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. For more information, contact Brad Bessemer at (224) 622-7189.
While wearing pink socks to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Arlington Stallions took on the Westfield United Rugby Club from Westfield, Indiana.
In what turned out to be an exciting running contest, the Stallions relied on the strength of two long tries by Colin Farmer and Jack Tuttle to edge Westfield 20-19.
In addition to the Stallions’ running, they were forced to play some stellar defense to protect their own goal line against a sustained Westfield attack in the second half.
“We’ve worked very hard on our fitness this fall,” said coach Paul Bergman. “When they had their numeric advantage late in the game, that work paid off in our defensive intensity. Our players should be proud of the effort.”
The Stallions are proud of three of their alumni who continue their rugby careers at the college level; Eddie McGuire (Elk Grove) at Northern Michigan University; Matt Korff (Hersey) at Indiana University and Jack Carso (Hersey) at nationally-ranked St. Mary’s (California).Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.