The O’Laughlin family has enjoyed success in athletics at Fenwick High School over the past few years.
Oldest brother Casey starred on the baseball diamond for coach Dave Hogan’s Friars and later had a solid career at Northwestern University. Casey’s younger brother, Michael, was one of Illinois’ top high school football wide receivers in the Class of 2018 and currently is at West Virginia. He was named to the preseason watch for the John Mackey Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate tight end.
Now their sister Shannon — who is a Fenwick junior — is following in their footsteps, emerging as one of the girls volleyball team’s top players this fall. She has amassed 117 kills, 14 aces and a team-high 212 digs for the Friars, who are 16-11 following a two-set victory Oct. 14 over visiting St. Ignatius (26-24, 25-21).
“It was a big win,” said O’Laughlin. “We know [St. Ignatius] is a good team, so we wanted to get our best people out there and swing hard.”
Fenwick, which has won seven of its last nine matches, has gotten better as the season progressed, and it’s something O’Laughlin likes to see.
“We’ve had our ups and downs; we had kind of a rough start,” she said. “We had to click with new members of the team, but now we’re rolling, and we’re ready to go [into the playoffs].”
What makes this season more special for Shannon O’Laughlin is that her head coach is her mother, Kathleen, who was a good collegiate player at Illinois and then California State-Northridge. Shannon says it’s fun being coached by her.
“You would think it’d be a lot worse than it is,” Shannon said with a laugh. “But she’s a great coach and I’ve never met someone more talented in my life. She’s a good influence and role model for me.”
For her part, Kathleen is thrilled with the opportunity to coach her daughter.
“It’s so fun to coach Shannon,” she said. “She’s been around the program a long time and watched Casey and Michael participate in athletics. She’s a level-headed kid and great to coach. I think of her the same as the other players.”
Fenwick will take part in the Lake Park Tournament Oct. 22-23, then turn its attention to the IHSA Class 3A state volleyball tournament. The Friars are seeded fourth at the Nazareth Academy Sectional, which has a strong field with teams such as top-seed St. Ignatius, Trinity, Payton Prep and the host Roadrunners.
“That’s a loaded sectional. That’s going to be some fun volleyball in the first part of November for everybody,” Kathleen O’Laughlin said.
A win over the top-seeded Wolfpack last week can only help instill more confidence for Fenwick, and Shannon O’Laughlin believes that the Friars can have a substantial postseason run thanks to good floor leadership.
“It’s going to be a fast tempo,” she said. “We have a lot of big games ahead of us, but when we work together, we’re a good team. Senior captain Elise Heneghan is one of our best leaders on the court, and she always keeps us together.”