The reason for me becoming a freelance sports reporter for Wednesday Journal back in 2017 was my deep passion for high school athletics. I’m a huge sports fan in general; I root for the Chicago pro teams and my college alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
But there has always been something magical about high school sports. For most student-athletes, high school is likely the final time they’ll be in organized competition, so they’re bound to always give it their best.
Plus, the way local communities support their schools — whether it’s a Friday night football game, a wrestling match, a track meet or a softball game — is unparalleled.
This has long fueled my passion. However, I must admit that in recent weeks, I’ve felt it waning a bit. Balancing the demands of my full-time job and my freelance writing can be somewhat challenging.
However, a couple of girls basketball games I covered last week served as reminders of why I write and, frankly, they were much-needed.
On Feb. 8, I went to Trinity High School for the Blazers’ game against St. Laurence, one I wasn’t initially planning to cover. But something just told me to go, so I did.
And am I ever glad I went. It was Trinity’s Senior Night and one of its seniors, Maeve Lundt, has an injury that will keep her out the rest of the season. Blazers coach Kim Coleman, in what I felt was a wonderful gesture, had Lundt suit up and placed in the starting lineup.
Lundt left her crutches on the bench and went on the court for the opening tip. St. Laurence agreed with Coleman’s plan for Trinity to win it so that the Blazers could pass the ball to Lundt, standing all alone beneath the basket.
Ciarra Richardson got the ball to Lundt, who missed her first two layup attempts, but then got the third to go in. The crowd went wild, and Lundt had tears in her eyes — but also a huge smile.
It was one of the best moments that I have ever seen since I started writing. And it happened again the following night at Fenwick’s game with Proviso West. Friars coach Lenae Fergerson placed senior Melissa Moduca in the starting lineup for Senior Night.
Moduca, who like Lundt is done for the year with an injury, went on the court in her walking boot. Proviso West let Fenwick win the tip and pass the ball to Moduca, standing alone by the basket. She laid it in, and three was a lot of emotion in the fieldhouse gym.
These events have refueled my passion for sports writing, and as March Madness is upon us, I am ready to get busy. Thank you, coaches Coleman and Fergerson, for getting me back on track and reminding why I do what I do.
Let’s roll. Let’s ride.