The following contrived headlines hovered at the top of a blank computer screen when I sat down to write today’s column:

The death of professional hockey: Does anyone give a puck?

University of Illinois basketball’s unique unity when it comes to thievery and then getting out of theft charges.

The start of spring blaming: Barry Bonds claims media out to get him.

Where have you gone Michael Jordan? The NBA turns its lonely eyes to you.

Serena Williams: The body of a war horse, the fashion sense of a streetwalker.

You’re so vain, I bet you think this column is about you Sammy Sosa, Shaquille O’Neal and Jose Canseco.

Nothing, if you can believe it, jumped out at me. But then I stumbled upon a column I wrote last year in March after the Fenwick girls’ basketball team finished third at the IHSA State Finals. What relevance it now has in that the Friars are returning to the State tournament beginning this Friday. But more importantly, how brilliant I look in my prediction. Here it is for your enjoyment and my basking. I know, it’s vain.

Originally published March 10, 2004

Fenwick bound for stratospheric future

I realize it’s only been four days since Fenwick finished third at the 2003-2004 IHSA Class AA Girls Basketball State Finals and yes the Friars have traveled downstate more times than Governor Blagojevich, but let’s not gloat too long on this recent accomplishment. After all, it may be 365 days or so until Fenwick plays in the State Finals?#34;more likely the State Championship, again.

They made it to State again this year with five freshmen and without a towering and intimidating presence, although Kristin Heidloff, despite her 5-foot-6-inch vertically challenged height, horrified opponents every time she received the ball beyond the three-point arc. Even when Heidloff struggled to find her timing in the three games downstate last weekend, she remained a viable threat. She showed poise during pressure situations and her leadership on the court despite her shooting woes no doubt educated Fenwick’s young squad.

Fenwick’s young squad is the real story now. Heidloff and Traci Pawlak, thanks for the memories. You’re moving on and so are we. Don’t be too disappointed if in the next few seasons your names and the third-place trophy you both helped obtain in 2003-2004 don’t slip into forgottenland. It’s just that the Fenwick Dynasty (third at State in 2000, first in 2001, second in 2003, and now third again) looks to be nowhere near dissolving. Not with Samantha Woods. Not with Alison Jackson. Not with Devereaux Peters. Not with Maggie Kloak. Not with Brittany Johnson. We’re not taking anything away from your achievements, it’s just that we can’t help but be anxious to look to the future.

Nor can your coach.

“The future looks bright for Fenwick, so we’re happy,” said head coach Dave Power directly following Saturday’s 69-50 victory over East Suburban Catholic Conference rival Marian Catholic for third place at Redbird Arena in Normal. “You always want to win your last game of the season and we did that this year. If it has to be the third place game, then so be it. We’ll take it. I have a feeling we’ll be back here.”

Power, who, if he hasn’t already, should look into purchasing a second home in Normal. The young talent on this season’s team would make the investment worthwhile. The 6-foot-3-inch Woods, the 6-2 Peters and the 5-11 Jackson, all freshmen this season, are going to make opponents wish their NIKES were equipped with springs. Woods hauled down 173 rebounds during the regular season, Peters 141, Jackson 186. The rookies owned the glass.

“I just see unlimited potential with those players,” said Power of the three freshmen.

Without Heidloff, who takes her near perfect free-throw shooting, mesmerizing ballhandling and Cheshire smile to Georgetown in the fall, the young Friars still growing into their sneakers next season, have Johnson to lead them back to State. The 5-8 guard, who was forced to watch from the sideline last season while her torn ACL healed, came back this year and averaged nine points per game. By next season, I’m betting she forgets about that Robocop brace on her left leg and steps in where Heidloff left off.

Fenwick isn’t going away. In its 12-year history, the program is 283-90. Not too shabby, but what goes up is suppose to, at some point, come down. The thing is, the Friars have only left earth’s atmosphere. They’ve got the entire universe to travel before they begin their descent, which in all likelihood isn’t going to be anytime soon. They also have time on their side. The team has finished in the top three at State in four out of the last five years. I think it’s safe to say this dynasty is going to stretch a decade.

Maybe more.


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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...