St. Charles East senior Paige Jordan's strength on the golf course is a long drive. Relatively speaking, she won't require much more than a 5-wood to reach her next destination, Bradley University in Peoria.
In April the three-time Class AA state golf qualifier signed to the Braves, under Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year Mary Swanson. Jordan chose between Bradley, Valparaiso and Carthage. Swanson sought Jordan out through an online service.
"I loved it," Jordan said of Bradley. "The team's so nice and they're all great golfers so it'll be competitive -- and everyone's really driven and supporting of each other, which was really nice to see. And the coach has amazing credentials."
Golf buddy Renee Solberg of Wheaton Warrenville South mentioned she was considering Bradley. Jordan, also a three-year Saints varsity basketball player, had played hoops there and liked what she saw. She's thrilled to join a college program that this year traveled twice to Florida, once to Texas and once to Arizona.
Jordan, who swings Mizuno clubs, finished 23rd in Class AA last fall. She took seventh at the Burlington Central sectional and won the Crystal Lake Central regional.
St. Charles East's two-time golf MVP started her senior season fast, carding a 71 at the Barrington Invitational. Like most golfers she said her short game needs improvement, but everything clicked that day.
"I think winning my first tournament right off the bat my senior year was extremely memorable because I played with extremely strong players," said Jordan, who'll tune up for Bradley with a couple stops on this summer's Illinois Junior Golf Association circuit.
"When I won that tournament it was very exciting. I scored my first par round, a lot of my teammates were there and they all played well, too."
McAuley to Waubonsee
Ace Daily Herald correspondent Kevin McGavin reported that Thursday West Aurora senior basketball player Josh McAuley, captain of the 2012-13 TriCities All-Area Boys Basketball Team, officially committed to play at Waubonsee Community College.
The 6-foot-7 center helped lead the Blackhawks to the Class 4A Hinsdale Central supersectional, where in a 62-52 loss to Proviso East he scored 22 points with 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. McAuley, first-team at Pontiac, averaged more than 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds and nearly 4 blocked shots.
Baseball for a cause
Kaneland baseball's "Pack the Park" is an annual event that doubles as a charity.
Friday the Knights will play Batavia in a sophomore/varsity doubleheader at the Kane County Cougars' Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva with proceeds directed to the Caitlyn Phillips Memorial.
Each year Kaneland's seniors choose a charity, family or organization to donate game proceeds. A couple years ago the beneficiary was the David Helm, a leukemia patient and the kid brother of former Knight (now Tennessee Volunteers tight end commit) Daniel Helm. This year's effort goes to the memorial for Harter Middle School seventh-grade student and Elburn resident Caitlyn Phillips.
Action gets under way with the sophomore game at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Kaneland and Batavia seniors will then be honored, followed by a memorial ceremony for Caitlyn Phillips. The varsity game starts at around 7 p.m.
Crosstown Classic redux
Terrible weather knocked out the Crosstown Classic lacrosse game between St. Charles North and St. Charles East a couple weeks ago. The game is back on Friday at the East Side Sports Complex (a change from the initial site at St. Charles East).
The junior varsity game starts at 5 p.m. followed by a senior recognition ceremony with the varsity at 7 p.m. Of course, scattered thunderstorms are in the area forecast.
Coaching for fun and PRs
You can go home again. Matt Sinnott's coaching career proves it.
A 1998 West Aurora graduate, he returned to his alma mater in the fall of 2003 to teach physics and coach boys cross country and the track team's distance squad.
These last two weeks -- track sectionals and the state meet -- will be his last at West Aurora. Sinnott has decided to return to his second alma mater, North Central College in Naperville.
Another local coach guided by the terminally optimistic influence of legendary North Central coach Al Carius, the 2003 Cardinals graduate will join the staff there. Another North Central graduate and West Aurora assistant Tony Rizzo, will succeed Sinnott.
A 33-year-old Downers Grove resident, Sinnott said college coaching has long been a goal. After directing West Aurora's distance program to success unseen since he wore the Blackhawks uniform, Sinnott figured now was as good a time as any to join a North Central program that while competing in 39 Division III cross country championships has won the title 15 times and finished second 14.
"I learned a lot under (Carius), but what's influenced me the most right now is, to be successful you want to surround yourself with what you want to become," Sinnott said. "And what I want to be right now is a college coach, and I can't think of anything better than to surround myself with the best in the nation."
He will be missed at West.
"He is a better person than he is a coach ... and he is an outstanding coach," said Blackhawks head boys track coach Cortney Lamb. "He brought a program -- both cross country and track distance -- that was struggling to score consistently in a very tough DuPage Valley Conference to one of the best in the conference year in and year out."
Blackhawks jumps coach Chuck Hilby, who informed us of Sinnott's plan, pulled no punches in describing Sinnott's impact: "When Matt took over the distance program around 10 years ago, he took what was without a doubt the biggest weakness on the track team and turned it into what has been without a doubt our greatest strength the last few years, not to mention leading his cross country teams to multiple state meets, something that hasn't been done at West Aurora for many years."
We'd have to add recent sprinters Josh Zinzer and Leon Spears, but you get the point.
Humorously, Sinnott assessed Blackhawks distance like this: "I hate to say weak only because I came from that program."
On the track, Sinnott said he was the last distance runner to qualify for the state meet, 1997, until he returned as coach. In cross country, West Aurora advanced downstate as a team in 1976 and not again until 2010, then repeating in 2011.
"Matt has created an atmosphere where kids want to run cross country and track, they want to attend summer camps, they want to part of the Blackhawk distance program," Lamb said. "His dedication and the amount of time and energy he puts in to the kids and the program is amazing."
West Aurora's 3,200-meter relay has qualified downstate each of the prior three seasons and in the 800-meter run once, Ryan Bartell doing it. A sophomore at North Central College, Bartell said Carius and Sinnott are cut from similar cloth, interested for people to "develop more as a person than as a number."
As numbers go, under Sinnott Bartell went from 23 minutes in his first cross country race to 14 minutes, 50 seconds.
"He's very focused on developing the character of athletes, he's never going to do anything that's going to frustrate you," Bartell said. "But you'll see him at practice getting very emotional. He'll say, 'I'm not mad, I'm passionate.' He's a very laid-back guy but he's definitely got that edge that a coach needs at times."
Sinnott admits he doesn't have a catchy slogan like Carius' "Run for fun and personal-bests." But he lives it.
"The biggest thing I ever learned is if you want something you have to work hard to go get it," Sinnott said. "As an athlete, student, employee on the job, even a citizen of the country you have to work hard if you want to achieve something. And distance running is no exclusion to that. In a lot of ways I use my coaching as another classroom to teach life lessons, instead of a physics lesson."
Heading into the straightaway of his West Aurora coaching career, he said: "There've been a lot of highs and lows and challenges and successes, but I'm so blessed to have spent 10 years there."
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