Sometimes doing the nice thing isn’t always the right thing.
It sounds good.
It’s done for positive reasons.
But it’s not right.
The wrong was righted, however and all is well.
There are some who would question why so much time, energy and media space to an issue about who the all-time girls basketball scoring leader at Oak Lawn Community High School is spent when there is so much else going on in the world.
That’s true. But even issues that seem small and frivolous to the rest of the world are worth fighting for to the people closest to the situation.
Deerfield’s Drew Levin says he is not a troublemaker or the type who sends meals back to the kitchen at restaurants. But last February when he started reading newspaper reports that Oak Lawn’s LaTondra Brooks became the all-time scoring leader, he was upset and got involved.
His wife, known in these parts back in the late 1990s as Kathy Krzak, was the scoring leader with 1,235 points. Brooks scored 1,132 points in a Spartans uniform. Coaches and officials at the school, however, added 316 points that she scored on a varsity squad in Missouri when she was a freshman before moving to the Oak Lawn district.
Kathy and Drew Levin weren’t happy and Drew decided to write letters to get things changed. Drew pointed out that basketball great Kevin Garnett, who played just one year at Farragut High School in Chicago, didn’t have all of his previous career points transfer with him.
For the past year, Drew tried to get things changed and recently showed up to District 229 meetings to argue his case. That picked up some media attention and D229 Superintendent and Oak Lawn Principal Michael Riordan did some research on how other schools and teams did things.
On Jan. 26, he let the Levins know that Kathy was indeed the all-time scoring leader and her name was going to be put back on the board in the Spartans gym recognizing that accomplishment.
“It was a tough issue – LaTondra is one of the best female athletes we ever had,” Riordan said. “In time she will be [immortalized in a display with some of the other Spartan greats]. The coach and athletic director felt it was the right thing to do to include her points. At the time, I agreed and supported that decision.
“When Drew started raising the questions, I didn’t disagree with them but I felt our position wasn’t wrong, either. It’s not a right or wrong, it’s how you define career points. I give Mr. Levin credit for his persistence and I started doing more homework. While the decision we made wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t common practice. It’s not what the norm was. Keeping career points scored [solely] for the school made sense. Ultimately we did what we thought was best.’’
Three days later, senior Brianna Markusic hit a steal and layup in the first half of a game against Shepard and broke Kathy’s record.
The Levins were on hand to watch the record fall. It was the first time Kathy was back in the gym for the first time since she graduated in 1999.
Drew, Kathy and their three children, Jake, Lexi and Lucas made the trip from Deerfield to watch the record fall. It was not a sad time. Kathy was able to show her kids her name on the board and at halftime, she congratulated the new scoring leader and received some flowers in return.
“It’s exciting and it’s exciting for my kids,” Kathy said. “We just wanted it done the right way. This is great. It was done fairly and it was exciting to see her break the record. It’s quite an accomplishment.’’
Her husband insists that this was done to show his kids to stand up for what you believe is right.
“This was really about principles more than Kathy holding the record,” Drew said. “We knew the record would be broken. Last year we read articles about the record and I was upset. It wasn’t right. At first I got a lot of resistance. But now they are doing the right thing and it’s a good example.’’
As for Brooks?
Last year’s Reporter-Regional Player of the Year is a freshman at Western Michigan Unversity, which recently took over first place in the Mid-American Conference West division for the first time since 2008.
Riordan said Brooks’ accomplishments and contributions to the school will not be forgotten.
“Some people will look at is as shedding negative light on LaTondra,” Riordon said. “No way. She did nothing wrong here. She still has her name up there [on the board] six times for six other records. It will be a long time before anyone breaks those, probably. We don’t want to be disrespectful to LaTondra and her family.’’
It wasn’t an easy issue to deal with, but Oak Lawn got it right.