Baseball: St. Charles North's DeMarco wins Illinois Gatorade player of the year
Nick DeMarco already is in South Bend, Ind., making the transition to college baseball at Notre Dame.
But the high school awards are still rolling in.
DeMarco, who just graduated from St. Charles North, recently was named the 2020-21 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year. He's up for the national award that will be announced in July.
The award recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and character. DeMarco maintained a 4.64 GPA on a 5-point scale, and has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics, Feed My Starving Children and as a youth baseball coach for children with special needs.
DeMarco joins past state winners including Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo High School, Mich.), Jon Lester (2001-02, Bellarmine Preparatory School, Wash.), David Price (2003-04, Blackman High School, Tenn.), Clayton Kershaw (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas), and Kris Bryant (2009-10, Bonanza High School, Nev.).
"It was definitely an honor to be able to win that award and look at the history of that award," DeMarco said from Notre Dame where he is taking summer classes and working out with the Fighting Irish baseball team. "You see some of those names at the national scale but even the guys from the previous years from the state of Illinois and guys who have won before, it's kind of cool to put yourself on a level with those guys."
Those local Illinois winners include Chicago Cubs first-round pick Ed Howard (2019-20, Mount Carmel) and Quinn Priester (2018-19, Cary Grove), both of whom DeMarco has played with or against.
DeMarco, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior infielder and right-handed pitcher, posted a .423 batting average with 11 home runs, 55 runs scored and 37 RBI this past season, leading the North Stars to a 28-4 record. The state's No. 4 draft prospect as ranked by PrepBaseballReport and the 2021 DuKane Conference Player of the Year, DeMarco also compiled a 5-1 record on the mound with a 1.47 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 38 innings.
As a sophomore, DeMarco helped the North Stars finish second in the Class 4A state tournament. He missed his junior season because of the pandemic but was glad to have his senior year and is looking forward to playing for a Notre Dame team that just missed the College World Series by a game this spring and has several fifth-year players back.
"Obviously it was a strange (high school) career for anybody that ended up losing that year," DeMarco said. "I was lucky enough to get pulled up at a young age and get some experience. As a kid I'd go to the games and see the big high school baseball players playing and I'd look up to them. Now I see the little kids in the stands and I hope in their eyes I was a role model to them like those older guys were role models for me."
As part of the award, DeMarco was able to donate $1,000 to a charity of his choice. He picked Challenger Baseball, a local organization for special needs players that the St. Charles North program volunteers at.
"We got to experience that as a team and help those guys out," DeMarco said. "We would play little games with them. I'm sure it made their day to see all the other local guys out there but for our guys it gives us a lot of perspective. And at least for me, it was cool to see all the smiles on their faces. For me that's pretty much what it's all about."