With a walk to remember, Fremd graduate an Olympic rock star for a day

A two-time Daily Herald All-Area basketball point guard at Fremd, Danny Bruno likely enjoyed many memorable moments in sports.

None like this one.

Bruno, a regional sales manager for a company providing competition infrastructure for the Paris Olympics (the International Olympic Committee forbids identifying vendors, he said), carried the Olympic flame June 2 in the French town of Saint-Maixent L’ Ecole.

Among a worldwide cast of 25 torch bearers participating that day in the Olympic torch relay, over about five hours they each covered about 200 meters, traveling from a military base in Saint-Maixent L’ Ecole to the town square.

“Just carrying the Olympic torch and understanding what it represents, and representing the USA over there, it was a huge honor for me to be there,” said Bruno, a 2009 Fremd graduate now living in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It represents community, peace and sport, and that’s who we are as a company and that’s who I am as a person.”

That Sunday he felt a little bit more.

“One of the best parts of the entire day was kind of becoming a rock star for the day,” Bruno said.

Danny Bruno felt like a rock star during his 200-meter stretch of the Olympic torch relay in France. Courtesy of Tony Bruno

“Several people — kids, adults — came up asking to take a picture with the flame. Seeing kids’ smiles when I would either wave to them or high-fiving or taking a picture with them was something I will remember the rest of my life.”

Bruno drew the golden ticket in a company raffle to participate in the relay. Abroad from May 29-June 7, he spent a week in France, including two days in Paris, and also visited Switzerland for kicks.

He tried escargot for the first time (“actually really good”) and enjoyed the French doughnuts, but certainly carrying the Olympic flame topped Bruno’s itinerary.

“It was way too quick, and I am so happy that my parents (Tony and Julie) were there to not only cheer me on but to take some pictures as well because I would not remember the majority of that walk with the flame, because it went so quickly,” Bruno said.

To jog his memory in the future, he returned home with the track suit he wore while carrying the torch and was given a gold ring taken from the center of a torch.

It may have been a bit of a blur and passed too fast, but Bruno could not be mistaken for a race walker as he attempted to savor the moment.

“I walked as slow as I could,” he said.

As a keepsake for participating in the Olympic torch relay, Danny Bruno was given a gold ring that is built into the torch. A torch has top, bottom and center pieces, Bruno said, “signifying bringing everything and everyone together.” Courtesy of Danny Bruno

Dave Yates remembered

Community support was strong for the family of beloved Fremd girls basketball coach Dave Yates, who died of brain cancer June 11.

A GoFundMe site organized to aid the Yates family’s final expenses, “Dave Yates memorial,” had raised more than $35,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

Visitation was held Wednesday evening at Our Lady of the Wayside in Arlington Heights, with a further visitation followed by the funeral at the same church starting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Fremd High School girls basketball coach Dave Yates and his players are honored for their third-place finish at state this year at last week's Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board of education meeting. Courtesy of District 211

Yates had requested attendees dress casually in Fremd gear or Vikings green-colored attire.

The site also noted that a celebration of life is planned for 4-8 p.m. June 29 at the high school. Again, Vikings green was Yates’ choice for the celebration.

Silver power

On June 14 at the Nike Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, boys from the Downers North Track Club — essentially Downers Grove North, but they can’t say that out of season — won the championship-level 3200-meter relay.

Still on fire from their Class 3A relay title at the boys track and field state finals on May 25 in Charleston, Will Surratt, Grant Schroder, Philip Cupial and Ryan Eddington topped the field in 7 minutes, 40.71 seconds. The Downers boys beat national power American Fork by more than three seconds.

It was the third straight year a team from the West Suburban Silver won the NON Championship 3200 relay. Hinsdale Central won it in 2022 and 2023.

Agent of change

After Denise Kavanaugh became athletic director at Downers Grove North High School in 2005, she’d get emails addressed to: “Gentleman.”

She’d be at a Trojans home contest, waiting for the officials to show up. When they did they’d ask her where they could find the athletic director.

“We had some good laughs. And today, that doesn’t happen at all,” Kavanaugh said.

A generous attitude, and that evolution is partly because of her.

Only for a bit longer, though, because after 19 years Kavanaugh will retire June 30 as Downers North athletic director.

She’s showing the Trojans ropes to incoming athletic director David Rose, who until July 1 officially holds that position at Woodstock North.

A 1982 graduate of Downers Grove South, starting at her alma mater Kavanaugh has worked in Community High School District 99 for 34 years, the past 21 at Downers North.

Arriving at Downers North in 2003 as athletic director Duane Buturusis’ assistant, she tabled an outstanding career coaching girls volleyball at Downers South.

A member of the West Suburban Conference “WSC-100 Honor Roll” assembled for the league’s 100th anniversary in 2024, from 1994-2002 Kavanaugh’s Mustangs went 362-56. She led them to seven state trophies in nine seasons with state titles in 1996, 1999 and in her final season.

Volleyball Magazine named her its 1999 national coach of the year, and in 2017 Kavanaugh was inducted into the Downers Grove South Athletic Hall of Fame.

Retiring Downers Grove North athletic director Denise Kavanaugh joins her predecessor in that position with the Trojans, Duane Buturusis, during a retirement celebration for Kavanaugh. Courtesy of Denise Kavanaugh

As athletic director she has since seen 18 Downers North teams win state trophies. She took pleasure in working with every strata at the school, principal on down.

“You are involved with so many people and I love that, that was so special to me,” said Kavanaugh, who hopes to remain involved in athletics.

“Really the thing I remember most is when you have kids come back and doing something because of you. They’re coaching or they’re teaching or they’re leading in some way. I always am most proud of that,” Kavanaugh said.

At the start, if she had questions she’d ask former female athletic directors such as Neuqua Valley’s Barb Barrows or Oak Park’s Sandy Abbinante.

Kavanaugh retires as a mentor herself, long past the stage of people looking for this new athletic director, “Dennis.”

“It takes time sometimes for things to evolve,” she said. “And that doesn’t happen now.”

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