Hail the Barrington home run queen

In a softball preview for the Daily Herald, freelance writer John Leusch noted the record-setting exploits of Barrington catcher Emma Kavanagh.

For those who missed it, the Arizona-bound senior set Barrington’s home run record this season. She cracked No. 46 in a March 13 home game against Taft to establish the Fillies’ record. Entering Wednesday, Kavanagh had increased it to 48.

That is 11th all-time in Illinois, according to Illinois High School Association records. The leader is St. Joseph-Ogden’s Bailey Dowling with 65.

Kavanagh broke Allie Goodwin’s team mark of 45 set just last season before Goodwin headed to Princeton. Before that the record was 42 by 2013 graduate Loren Krzysko, who played at Arkansas, Fillies coach Perry Peterson pointed out.

The coach added that Kavanagh owns Barrington’s record for runs scored, 183, and holds the program mark for batting average at .486.

No one-trick Fillie, in 2023 Kavanagh set Barrington’s single-season record for throwing out potential base stealers 77% of the time. Meanwhile, Peterson said this season she’s been a team leader and mentor like never before.

MaxPreps calls Kavanagh the No. 9 player nationally, the No. 2 catcher, and the top softball player in Illinois in the Class of 2024. She’s a two-time first-team all-state selection by the Illinois Coaches Association and a two-time second-team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Peterson said Kavanagh is the first Mid-Suburban League player to receive a full softball scholarship from a Pac-12 school.

“Emma had other full rides to UCLA, LSU and Northwestern but knew that the opportunity with the Arizona Wildcats fit her best,” he said.

It’s official

The rise of girls flag football to an IHSA sport created a sensation. Now come the chores critical to carry it out.

On March 15, Grayslake North athletic director Tina Woolard sent notice that the Northern Lake County Conference is seeking an assignment chair for officials.

Woolard is president of the NLCC, which has Grayslake Central, Grayslake North, Round Lake and North Chicago playing flag football, with other schools awaiting board approval to join.

The assignment chair will be an independent contractor of the conference upon recommendation by a majority of NLCC athletic directors.

Woolard can explain the nitty-gritty, but the assigner’s responsibilities include hiring IHSA-licensed flag football officials. The assignor will tell each school the officials they’ll get for the entire season before it starts, and communicate any changes or substitutes along the way.

The chair will need to implement a rating or review system for officials and attend NLCC monthly athletic directors meetings — plus pre- and postseason coaches meetings if asked. The assignment chair also must provide schools with the bill for the officials.

Information on the assignment chairperson position is available through Woolard at or (847) 986-3171.

Lifetime of learning

Following is the basketball coaching staff at Weber High School for the 1982-83 season.

Jim Harrington was the head coach with Mike Bailey his assistant. On the lower levels were Al Biancalana and John Bonk.

All are members of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

They led the Red Horde to a tie for the Chicago Catholic League championship for the first time in decades, since Senior and Junior divisions were determined by height, a maximum of 5-foot-8 for the juniors.

“Obviously, just a ton of basketball knowledge,” said Darren Howard, who played on Weber’s senior squad that season and tops that height restriction by about a foot.

“I learned so much from them that I didn’t even know I was learning,” said Howard, who in 2012 paused his own successful boys basketball coaching career at what is now IC Catholic to become athletic director at Oswego High School.

He’s continued to learn throughout the years, and as the Daily Herald reported Monday, Howard will take his experience — and honors like 2023 Illinois Coaches Association and National High School Athletic Coaching Association national athletic director of the year — to St. Charles East starting July 1.

With eight years before retirement, he liked the financial package, and it was closer to family and to the Bloomingdale home he shares with Joan, his wife of 37 years.

“Life opens up opportunities and you move with those opportunities,” Howard said.

As he was mentored at Weber, and also at Fenton High School under another IBCA hall of famer, Dennis Cromer, Howard takes pride in his ability to mentor coaches. He’ll bring that to St. Charles East along with a guiding principle.

“One sign I have in my office I look at every day. It says: ‘Do not be afraid of change, be afraid of not changing.’

“Every day I challenge myself to do that and to get better at something even if it’s just one degree better. And I learned that at Weber High School,” Howard said.

Last July at the University of Nebraska, Darren Howard received the National High School Athletic Coaching Association award for 2023 national athletic director of the year. He's joined by the Illinois Coaches Association's Drew Potthoff, from left, retired Father McGivney athletic director Henry Johnson, and Rock Falls athletic director Rich Montgomery. Courtesy of Darren Howard
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