The highlight of my weekend was a trip to Home Depot and a rather vicious pick-up mini-basketball game in the carport with my 4-year-old twin daughters, Abigail and Sarah, and two older neighborhood boys, Sam and James. The girls and I stunned the boys with a 10-9 victory, only after I perspired 20 pounds away and prevented the boys from scoring by placing them in headlocks-which reminds me, when I finish this column I need to look into whether or not DCFS investigates such incidents of abuse if they’re not your children.

Anyhoot, my point is I had nowhere near the weekend the OPRF girls track and field team and its coaches had. The Huskies placed 22nd overall at the Class AA State Meet, held at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. And they had to do it without their long-time sprint coach Lorenzo Jackson, who was laid up in a hospital with a severe ulcer. The team kept in constant contact with the assistant coach throughout the meet.

That’s not the entire highlight though. For some of the athletes, most notably the seniors, it was the “best weekend” of their lives-thus far. Alison Rack uttered those words jubilantly to head coach Sarah McCabe.

Actually, McCabe said Rack sounded more like this, “THIS IS THE BEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE!”

Rack competed at the state meet for the final time in her high school career. The senior took 13th in the 3200-meter run with a time of 11:19.62 on Saturday afternoon. That evening she attended her senior prom in Chicago.

It was no small feat-the 13th-place finish or the prom. Charleston is over three hours from Chicago. That means that these girls had to compete, celebrate, wash up, get their hair and makeup done, put on their dresses, take an additional hour to primp, and then be jettisoned to Chicago for the big dance.

Can you imagine what it must have been like before they left for the state meet? Let’s see, got my track shoes, socks, uniform, oh and my three-inch open-toed high heels. All set, let’s go!

And the A-N-X-I-E-T-Y. One minute you’re at the biggest competition of your high school athletic career, then you’re at the biggest celebration of your high school career.

You go from a garbage tub full of ice to cool your stems between races to a dance floor where you try to start a fire with those same stems.

And how do you get 185 miles in such a short time? Well, you have your head coach chauffeur you, of course.

“They worked so hard for so many years for me, the least I could do was drive them to the prom,” said McCabe, herself a former OPRF student-athlete (if I told you the year, you wouldn’t believe me anyway).

While others pulled up to the Chicago Hyatt in fancy stretch limos, a few members of the OPRF girls track and field team arrived in style-in the school’s activity bus.

A proud head coach at the wheel.


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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...