While the Oak Park and River Forest High School softball team earned a lot of attention this spring with 27 wins, two other OPRF students put softball front and center, albeit under the radar.
Though Maddy and Caroline Halperin (senior and sophomore sisters) have never played for the Huskies, they might just be developing future players for head coach Mel Kolbusz. The Halperin sisters coach together in the River Forest Youth Baseball & Softball League. In fact, the duo guided the Purple Powers to a third-place finish in the Girls Senior Division this season. More importantly, they served as mentors for the impressionable middle-school-age players.
“My favorite part about coaching is not so much the softball part but just getting to know the girls,” Caroline said. “When they started out, a lot of them hadn’t even picked up a bat, but I remember when one of the girls got her first hit at the end of the season. It was a really special moment. Some of the girls were complete strangers to each other at first, but they became really close by the end.”
Ever since they could swing a bat, the Halperin sisters have been passionate about playing softball. Their love for the game was cultivated in the same league they’re now coaching, thanks to positive influences like Jeff Leef, who helped them first as players, then recruited them as coaches.
“[Leef] was the one who approached us to coach and helped us out a lot through the years,” Maddy said. “His daughter, May, was also a huge help.”
En route to their third place showing, the Purple Powers notched a particularly impressive 3-0 win in their postseason opener against a previously unbeaten team. The team scored three runs in the seventh to secure the dramatic victory.
“The girls were really excited,” Maddy said. “They hardly made any mistakes and they were really into the game.”
While neither sister has played softball at OPRF, Maddy is on the golf team, while Caroline enjoys art and fashion design. They hope to coach another youth softball squad next summer.
“I’m not very competitive as far as playing goes,” said Caroline, “but I am definitely going to continue to coach. I definitely want to coach until I get to college.”
As close-knit sisters, Maddy cherishes the opportunity to coach with her sibling and form bonds with their players.
“The greatest thing about softball is the feeling of being a team,” Maddy said. “In a lot of sports, you’re kind of on your own and don’t depend on other people while you’re playing. In softball you really get a sense of being a team and having other people there with you, and I think that’s a really important thing to have.”

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