Judge's legacy includes Glenbard West field hockey excellence

Updated 9/20/2017 9:15 PM
  • Karen Judge

    Karen Judge

  • Glenbard West's field hockey team led by Karen Judge is 13-1 after Tuesday's 5-0 win over Deerfield.

    Glenbard West's field hockey team led by Karen Judge is 13-1 after Tuesday's 5-0 win over Deerfield. Photo courtesy of Glenbard West field hockey

Near a water fountain at Glenbard West's Memorial Field, where the Hilltoppers field hockey team plays and practices, is a plaque honoring the team's head coach, Karen Judge.

The impact of a woman whose athletic career predates Title IX may also be seen in the school buildings on the other side of Crescent Boulevard.

"My hall of fame is walking through the halls of Glenbard West and seeing the pictures of the many girls on the wall. If I can help them reach those goals, whatever level -- sophomore level of basketball, varsity basketball, sending girls downstate in badminton, those things -- those are my hall of fame moments."

Judge, who retired in 2007 as a physical education instructor after 30 years at Glenbard West and five years prior at Pekin, is extending those moments directing a top-flight field hockey program.

Led by three-year starters Kailey Schmidt and Tessa Erickson, 2016 Windy City Field Hockey All-Star sweeper Maddie Schrauth and 2016 coaches first-team all-state center-midfielder Amber Bode, the Hilltoppers are 13-1 after Tuesday's 5-0 win over Deerfield.

Glenbard West's next home game is 5:30 p.m. Friday against Novi (Mich.), followed by a 10 a.m. Saturday game at New Trier, which dealt the Hilltoppers their sole loss, 2-1 in a shootout after two overtimes.

Gateway Classic pool champions in St. Louis on Sept. 2-3, Glenbard West is ranked No. 20 nationally by MAX Field Hockey and No. 2 in the 10-state West/Midwest Region. Though Illinois Field Hockey lists only 22 girls programs, since Glenbard West field hockey went from a club to a school sport in 2008 the Hilltoppers have finished fourth in 2008, third in 2009 and 2016 and in second place in 2015.

The program steadily sends graduates to colleges such as Northwestern, Bucknell, Yale and Miami (Ohio) -- women like St. Louis University freshman midfielder Anna Enright and Ohio Wesleyan sophomore forward Emily Black. On Sept. 11, Kenyon College junior midfielder Hannah Paterakis was named North Coast Athletic Conference player of the week.

"I'm proud of that fact, more than anything, more than wins and losses, that we are able to provide that avenue to girls at our school," Judge said.

That avenue had yet to be paved when Judge, raised in Northlake, attended West Leyden High School. Girls sports in Illinois were then under the auspices of the Girls Athletic Association and interscholastic competition was allowed in only badminton and tennis. Judge played both.

In the fall of 1970 she entered Northern Illinois University, under the NAIA banner. Judge played four years each of varsity field hockey and basketball, and three years of softball. There were no women's athletic scholarships.

"I have seen girls and women's sports come from almost infancy to what it is now," she said.

Judge also is Glenbard West's sophomore girls basketball coach, and over her career has coached various levels in softball, badminton, track and field, and lacrosse not just at Glenbard West and Pekin but also at Addison Trail, Westmont and North Central College. Glenbard West athletic director Joe Kain called her "a mentor to many including myself."

"I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to help the girls today," Judge said. "I want to give back from my experiences to as many young ladies as I can, and hopefully they'll grow up and become coaches themselves."

Here's the kicker

Some football people see kickers as a different breed. This season has bred a few different ones.

Glenbard South junior Spencer Pyle sees it as an honor, a tribute, a handing down of the torch from his late father, Arnie, who passed away from cancer on New Year's Eve 2015. Like his father, Spencer plays soccer and does placekicking duties for the Raiders.

"I think my father would love it," said Spencer, who is 12-of-15 on extra-point attempts and 1 of 2 on field goal tries while having scored a team-high 12 goals with 4 assists in 10 games on the soccer field. He earned all-Metro Suburban Conference honors as a sophomore.

"He loved it whenever I was on the field or court, playing in a sport or in a game," said Spencer, who kicks with his left foot. "I feel like if he were here he'd be really proud of me, what I'm doing."

It's not for the lazy. On Monday and Wednesday Pyle practices with the soccer team then puts in between 30-50 minutes with the football team, mainly on kickoffs. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are devoted to soccer. Friday, of course, he joins the football team.

"It can be overwhelming at times but I know I can handle it," said Pyle, who also plays basketball. "I've been pushed before and I know I can handle it."

Aurelia Carulli handled high emotions last Saturday when sent into action for an extra point in Glenbard North's 35-3 win over McCracken County in Paducah, Kentucky. Zach Gonzalez is the regular kicker, and though Carulli gets junior varsity reps it was her first varsity attempt.

"My Adrenalin was rising, I was super-excited but I knew I had to stay focused," said Carulli, a soccer midfielder who last year captained the Panthers varsity as a junior. "I dropped my head, kept my eyes on the ball and just swung through it."

She became the first girl in Glenbard North history to score a point in a football game.

"Everyone was kind of screaming. Oh my gosh, I was so happy," said Carulli, who then took the kickoff.

For years Carulli watched her younger brother, Antonio, play football. She also was supported by her boyfriend, Panthers offensive guard Jose Vazquez. A club soccer player, she bypassed her last season to kick with the Panthers football team.

"It's something I've always wanted to do and I knew this was my last opportunity to do it," Carulli said.

Willowbrook's Betty-Ann Garrett hopes it's only the beginning.

The senior is an impressive 17-of-17 on extra-points and, like Pyle, has a 22-yard field goal to her credit. (She's also dedicated her season to raising money for pediatric cancer research on the website, kick-it.org.)

Kicking isn't a passing fancy for Garrett, who has played football at Willowbrook all four years.

"My goal is to go and play college football," said Garrett, who attended camps at Montana State, Wyoming and University of Colorado-Boulder, in addition to shocking fellow attendees at Kohl's Kicking events in Chicago last October and this May. The senior gets props from KC Kicking for her "excellent ball striking ability."

She started playing recreational soccer at a young age, but by the time she was old enough to play for the Lombard Falcons football team, she wanted to be like her older brother, Charlie, and suit up. Instead she got signed up for the cheerleading squad, an unhappy one-year deal.

"I did not enjoy that," Garrett said. "I wanted to go compete."

She continued in soccer and, finally, by high school got the football go-ahead from her father, Paul, and -- crucially -- her mother, Darlene.

"It took kind of a lot of coaxing but now she's really proud of me," Betty-Ann said. "Both of them are."

Garrett, who hit a 50-yard field goal over the summer and a 45-yarder in practice, moved up the ladder from Willowbrook's freshman B team to some sophomore action to kicking in junior varsity games.

"We feel we treat everybody equitably and it's been a good fit," said Warriors coach Nick Hildreth.

Nearly 6-foot-3, Garrett deflects comments that she should be playing volleyball, as her parents did. She's steadfast that she's "making the right choices," to the point where she said she'll try to walk on at a college program if necessary.

"But my dream is a scholarship so I can prove that girls can do everything, that we're not just a pretty face to look at," Garrett said.


Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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