With practices in football, girls volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming and diving, girls tennis, boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls golf, and field hockey having begun on Aug. 7, the 2023-24 Illinois High School Association calendar year is officially underway.

As student-athletes and coaches prepare for fall competition, Wednesday Journal checked in with the athletic directors at Oak Park and River Forest, Fenwick and Trinity high schools for a general outlook of the coming year, as well as a brief look back at the past year.


Last year was solid for the Huskies, with 78 student-athletes qualifying for state in their respective sports and two teams (softball and boys volleyball) finishing third downstate. In addition, 37 students from the Class of 2023 are continuing their careers collegiately.

Entering her third season as athletic director, Nicole Ebsen is eager to showcase the new multipurpose fields that have been under construction since the spring.

“We held tryouts on the new Lake Street baseball/multipurpose field Aug. 7,” she said. “It looks amazing, and we are excited to use it.”

She added that work on the new track and field complex will not be completed until late fall and should be open in time for next spring’s season.

Ebsen is also excited about the football team’s opener Aug. 26 at Triton College against host Fenwick. Last year, the Huskies defeated the Friars 35-7 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview in the first meeting between the two teams on the gridiron since 1989.

“Because last year was so well-received, I think we’re going to try and keep it going as long as we can,” Ebsen said. “It was a great event for the community.”

OPRF will also celebrate its 150th anniversary, and Ebsen indicated there are plans to honor the Huskies’ rich athletic legacy.

“We hope to invite our past Huskies back home and welcome our future Huskies to campus,” she said. “We’re looking forward to many amazing events that will help us remember our past while preparing for our exciting future.”


The 2022-23 season produced many terrific performances for the Friars. The girls tennis team won the IHSA Class 1A championship, the first ever for the program and the school’s 32nd state title overall. Rising junior Lily Brecknock played a key role in the success, winning the singles title.

Baseball, girls basketball, girls soccer, and boys and girls swimming and diving all won sectional titles. Thirty student-athletes signed collegiate letters of intent to continue their careers.

“We’re really excited for the new school year,” said Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies, entering his 13th season. “We’re implementing a student-led Friar Nation leadership team will help market and promote our sporting events with themes and activities. We also have a new principal, Mark Rasar, who is a big advocate of high school sports with a lot of great ideas. Finally, we have awesome student-athletes, coaches and families that are looking forward to competing and representing Fenwick.”

Like Ebsen, Thies is hopeful the football game with OPRF becomes an annual event. With the game at Triton this year, he said the plan is to have it at Oak Park Stadium for 2024.


The Blazers turned in a solid 2022-23 sports year. Highlights for the all-girls school in River Forest included the basketball team being named top seed in its IHSA Class 3A sectional and reaching the final for the second consecutive season.

There were also good improvements from the lacrosse, soccer and swimming teams and more solid seasons for cross country, track and field and softball teams.

“I am ready for another year of high school sports to get underway,” said Trinity Athletic Director Ken Trendel, who’s entering his fourth season. “I look forward to continuing to have a front-row seat to the growth of our student-athletes both individually and collectively. I truly believe we have the most amazing staff of coaches working with our students; there isn’t anything we cannot accomplish.”

Trendel feels his student-athletes have represented the school well during his time, and he wants the Blazers to keep things going in the right direction.

“I’m a strong believer in the life lessons and values learned through sports and want to to see our students mature and grow as the years progress,” he said. “More than wins and losses, I want us to continue to be a shining contribution to the school in the classrooms, hallways, and in the community, as well as on the courts and fields.”

Join the discussion on social media!