One can tell Chris Cloy retains the passion for water polo he had as an athlete at Sandburg.
"It's a fast-paced, action-packed game. It's a physical, aggressive sport that requires a tremendous amount of skill to be successful at it," said St. Charles North's sixth-year boys water polo coach.
"But from a viewing perspective, when high-quality water polo is being played it's extremely exciting and interesting to watch."
All the sport's intrigue -- like, how are they able to tread water while getting forearmed in the jaw? -- will be on display beginning with pool play at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Charles North, when Cloy and the North Stars host their second annual St. Charles North Varsity Water Polo Tournament. The round-robin field includes Hersey, St. Rita, Vernon Hills and Whitney Young, all ranked among the top 45 teams by the excellent water polo website, Illpolo.com.
"It's just an opportunity for us to get different teams in, good competition, and an opportunity to get water polo in the area," said Cloy, a math teacher at the school.
St. Charles North, ranked 18th with a 16-6 record entering Thursday's match against Hoffman Estates, is the defending champion. The North Stars defeated Whitney Young in the 2013 championship match, which Cloy noted was the school's first tournament championship.
That tourney-winning performance was matched this year by St. Charles North's girls team, which beat Andrew 11-6 in the title match March 22 also in the home pool, as reported by Illpolo.com. Nicole Guyett tied for the scoring lead with 13 goals over the three games, goalie Allyson Foor allowing just 3 goals a game. After Wednesday's 7-6 win over Palatine the 20th ranked North Stars girls are 15-6.
The boys team gets inside-outside scoring from Nick Traxler and John Pretet, the latter a fourth-team preseason all-stater by the water polo website. Second-year goalie Collin Bawolek was an honorable-mention selection to that list. The North Stars are anchored defensively by seniors Tim Steele and Ross Davis.
One can never count his sea turtles before they're hatched, but with 16 victories and seven regular-season games left entering Thursday the North Stars would seem a lock to surpass their 2011 record of 18 wins.
"So far this year we've been having a great year. We're excited about the end of the season here, we've got two weeks left before the postseason starts and we've got some big goals before the end of the season," Cloy said.
One of them might have been the March 27 victory at St. Charles East, but Cloy doesn't quite see it that way. Whether at East or North, he said: "I want the sport to grow in a community that has such a rich history in the swimming and aquatics world."
Knights of honor
Kaneland District 302 has a unique way to welcome individuals and teams inducted into its hall of fame, with eight different categories of recognition.
It also is interesting that this year three members will be introduced in the school auditorium at 7 p.m. May 5, and three more on June 2. The first wave is Gary Nickels, Rick Schairer and Christine Heath.
Ms. Heath is a singer and actress with multiple credits to her name, currently performing in two off-Broadway productions.
A 1964 Kaneland graduate, Nickels was captain of his baseball team at Illinois Wesleyan, but he had bigger fish to fry. Starting in administration with the Philadelphia Phillies in the Don Money days of 1972, he was around to collect a World Series ring after the Mike Schmidt and the Phillies won it all in 1980.
Nickels continued in high-level scouting with the Dodgers, Padres Orioles and Cubs, responsible for drafting such players as Mike Mussina, Clayton Kershaw and Mark Grace. Those who attend this ceremony will be amazed at Nickels' contributions; suffice it to say in 2010 the Professional Scouts Foundation granted him a Legends of Scouting award.
Schairer, a three-sport athlete who graduated from Burlington Central in 1970, taught sixth grade at Meredith Road Middle School for 31 years, the Kane County Distinguished Educator of the Year in 2001.
At Kaneland Schairer was the first girls basketball coach, starting in 1976 (coaching frosh-soph as well as varsity for four seasons), and strung together eight straight Little Seven Conference titles. Two of his teams are inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame including the 1982 Class A championship squad that's also in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall.
As for those to be inducted June 2, more to come ...
Speaking of Kaneland, there remains time to sign up for the fifth annual golf outing to support Kaneland boys basketball. It's June 7 at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove.
The fundraiser provides money for team uniforms, equipment and summer leagues and shootouts. Local businesses and donations have contributed a variety of raffle prizes.
Cost is $400 for a foursome or $40 for the following dinner only. For reservations and info, contact Knights boys basketball coach Brian Johnson at email@example.com.
She stuck the landing
Another nod to individual competition, St. Francis sophomore Shea Mahoney will compete May 7-11 at the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics National Championships in Jackson, Miss. She earned the bid by finishing first in both floor and all-around at regionals April 11-12 in Michigan.
Since she is a member of the Junior Olympic National Team and the Summer Games are in just two short years, we wondered if Mahoney harbored that goal. Evidently not. From Shea's mother, Shannon, St. Francis administrative assistant Megan Jamen relayed the information that last summer Shea decided not to pursue an attempt at the United States team.
Instead, she has decided to accept a full scholarship to Alabama, one of many offers she gained after competing last year at the Junior Nationals.
In other St. Francis news, Spartans wrestler and track athlete Nathan Gartlan received a Sixth Congressional District Excellence Award by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam in an April 24 presentation in West Chicago.
Gartlan joined St. Charles East's Mobeen Chaudhry and St. Charles North's Brooke Reynolds in picking up this honor saluting academics, extracurriculars, community service and school citizenship.
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