It’s not often someone trades in their black and white Fenwick uniform for that of the burnt orange and blue variety of OPRF High School, but it does happen. Two high-profile wrestlers, Chris and Nick Dardanes, left Fenwick last year for Huskieland. Years ago, longtime OPRF head football coach Jim Nudera coached at the private Catholic school down the street.

Now Lori Heidloff has joined the select group of those with Fenwick ties ending up at OPRF. As athletic coordinator, Heidloff and her bright smile graced Fenwick’s halls for the last five years. Long before that, she could be found in Fenwick’s field house cheering on her daughter, Kristin, a four-year varsity starter for the girls basketball team. You may remember Kristin Heidloff, the 5-foot-5, three-point specialist who helped lead the Friars to a state title during the 2000-01 season and into the state finals three out of the four years she was at the school.

While Kristin, and the bright smile she inherited from her mom, went on to star at Georgetown, Lori remained a fixture at Fenwick until, that is, last spring when unfortunate budget cuts at the high school opened new opportunities for the Oak Park resident.

“I didn’t know for sure where or what I was going to be doing, but I did know I would land on my feet,” says Heidloff, who has no ill-regard toward Fenwick for letting her go. “The opportunity at OPRF presented itself and I think it’s a really good fit.”

Heidloff is now using her skills and extensive knowledge of high school athletics in a secretary position in the OPRF Athletic Department.

“I’m happy to be here,” she says. “It’s a great school with a great athletic program.”

OPRF Athletics Director John Stelzer’s happy to have her on board.

“Lori’s a wonderful addition to our athletic department. She brings a wealth of experience from her days at Fenwick, and that’s why we felt she was a good fit.”

With the rivalry between OPRF and Fenwick being what it is – healthy but not heated – Stelzer is quick to point out that he didn’t steal or recruit Heidloff away from the private school.

“It all happened by coincidence. She happened to be let go and we were looking for a replacement for Lyn LeFevre, who had recently retired,” he said. “Lori went through the same extensive interview process as everyone else. We just felt she had the perfect qualities and background for the job.”

What did Lori’s daughter, the notable Fenwick alum, think about the move?

“She was a little shocked at first,” admits Lori. “I think everyone is used to seeing me wearing the Fenwick colors, so it’s a bit of a departure, but as I said, it’s a good fit here. I’m excited about the challenges and the possibilities.”

And hey, she doesn’t have to wear black anymore. Bright colors go well with a bright smile.


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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...