Here it is a new season and Trinity is again marred by a coaching controversy. Out is Abby Conklin, this coach resigning–not unlike her predecessor Jason Nichols who was let go, and in is Don Sansone, the older brother of the team’s starting guard. A conflict of interest?

Not really. Across town, Fenwick head coach Dave Power is coaching his daughter Erin again this season. Several coaches are fortunate to coach their kids, and without problems. But the sibling pairing at Trinity may not be the conflict. Conklin said one reason she chose not to return to the team was due to Sansone’s “stubbornness” as an assistant coach last season. Now he’s taken over as interim head coach.   

The question remains: Has the coach squabbling caused derision among the players?

Sansone says no. “The transition has been smooth. The players all know me and they know the way I coach,” he said. “They know what to expect. They’ve adjusted well and are moving on.”

So concludes that story. The next question is can the Blazers be as dominant without 6-foot-2-inch Caprice Smith, who graduated after leading her team to a 21-9 season and is now playing at DePaul?

“I think we can,” said Sansone flatly. “Though it’s surely a huge loss, we have the talent to make up for her absence. The advantage is that we won’t be centered around one particular player. There’s enough talent to go around.”

Expected to play more of a pivotal role this season are Trinity’s guards, Alison Sansone and Katie Jarger. Both players are four-year varsity starters that bring different skills to the game. Sansone is quick and keen at spotting the open player. She dished out nine assists per game last season, while averaging nine points. Jarger is tall, 6-foot, and a worthy 3-point specialist. The senior averaged 10 points last season, finishing second in scoring to Smith’s 23 points per game.

Toni Carter will reprise her role again at the forward position. The 6-1 junior was instrumental last year when defenders swarmed to Smith.

Other returners include Tonesha Members, Kelley O’Brien and March Smith, who as a freshman last year started a few games before enduring a leg injury.

The Blazers receive more height from newcomer Lykendra Johnson. The sophomore is 6-1 and Sansone expects her to be an impact player this year. But it will have to wait. Johnson injured her foot during tryouts and isn’t expected back until the end of the month.

“Lykendra is very strong, a good rebounder. She’s going to be a force on the floor once she’s healthy,” said Sansone.

Depth may be a concern for the new head coach. With two freshmen on the team, Amanda Macchione and Erica Cross, experience will lack.

Trinity will battle Loyola and Resurrection for the top spot in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference. But Sansone said he’s “always looking forward to Fenwick.”

The Blazers will host the Friars on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. They opened the season last night at Proviso East (after deadline).

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Key returners: Alison Sansone, Katie Jarger, Toni Carter
Key players lost to graduation: Caprice Smith, Ashley Wright

2003 record (finish):
21-9, regional title

Postseason success: In 2002, Trinity appeared in the IHSA Class AA State tournament for the first time in school history.

Tidbit: Is there any resentment amongst the players over the controversial firing of former coach Jason Nichols, er wait, the leaving of Abby Conklin? Dj vu. Is the chemistry strained?

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...