It was an exciting and productive year in area sports in 2014.
Take Trinity Christian College for instance. The Trolls’ volleyball team won a national championship. In most years, that could be good enough to be the top sports story of the year.
Not this year.
The year was so strong, that a national championship had to take a back seat to two other stories.
The top 10 list of sports stories in the Reporter and Regional feature Olympians, NFL draftees, state champions, huge events coming into our area and even a guy who had a couple of holes-in-one in less than a week.
So before new sports memories are made in 2015, here are the top sports stories of 2014:
$11. Silver Coyne
Sandburg graduate and Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne earned a spot on the Olympic women’s hockey team, competed in Sochi, Russia in February and came home with a silver medal.
In the first five games, Coyne racked up three goals and six assist to get to the gold medal game.
Once she came home, she and her medal toured several area schools and she made countless speeches to students and civic groups.
2. Feeling the draft
Former Sandburg and University of Michigan standout Michael Schofield was a third-round pick – and 95th pick overall – in the 2014 NFL Draft on May 9.
He received a call from Broncos’ General Manager John Elway and a text from quarterback Payton Manning that night. Through 15 games, he has yet to see action for the Broncos.
$13. Trinity Christian wins national championship
Trinity Christian College’s volleyball team claimed the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship in early December.
The Trolls beat Colorado Christian University 23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-15 to win the tournament. Rachel Verhage had 18 kills, 11 digs and four blocks in the triumph.
$14. Hosting a Final Four
St. Xavier’s football team made it to the NAIA national semifinals for the fifth time in school history but unlike the first four times, the Cougars played this game at home.
The result, however, was not to their liking. After grabbing a 17-10 lead after the first quarter, the Cougars gave up 31 straight and lost a wild one, 62-37 to Southern Oregon on Dec. 6 Southern Oregon went on to win the national championship with a 55-31 victory over Marian (Ind.) on Dec. 20.
$15. Four great coaches retire
In the spring, four veteran coaches announced their retirements and they enjoyed highly successful careers.
Denise Bromberek, who was Marist’s softball coach in the first 12 years of the program and won a state title in 2012, John Chappetto, who won a state title in 2008 as the head boys basketball boss, Janet Meyers, who won 256 games at Oak Lawn’s girls basketball coach, and Brother Rice boys volleyball coach Paul Ickes, the first coach in the state to win 500 matches, all called it a career.
$16. ESPN2 comes to town
Moraine Valley Community College’s new gym hosted a huge high school basketball game on Dec. 19 and St. Rita knocked off nationally-ranked Simeon, 51-46. The game was broadcast all over the world on ESPN2.
Moraine Athletic Director Bill Finn said the game drew 2,600 fans to the Palos Hills campus and there was a guest appearance by Kentucky Coach John Calipari, who was watching recruit Charles Matthews of St. Rita.
$17. A Screeching halt
Mt. Assisi High School closed its doors and in late May, the Screeching Eagles softball team played the last athletic event in school history.
The team made it to the regional championship before bowing out to Chicago Christian, 11-7, May 24 in Palos Heights. Terri Dearth’s grand slam pulled the Eagles to within one run at one point but the Knights rallied to put an end to the Eagles athletic program.
$18. Coaching merry-go-round at EP
Evergreen Park football coach Dan Hartman took a job at Hinsdale Central and school officials hired Phillips coach Troy McAllister. But on June 8, McAllister was let go because of a lack of teaching credentials and Ray Mankowski took over.
Evergreen Park qualified for the playoffs under Mankowski. Hartman opened his first week with a bang as his Red Devils ousted Bolingbrook, a preseason No. 1 team in both Chicago daily newspapers. As for McAllister? He returned to Phillips as an assistant but was soon promoted back to his old job and his team became the second Chicago Public League school in Illinois High School Association history to make it to a state championship game.
$19. Orland athletes win state titles
Providence Catholic’s baseball team win the Class 4A state championship in the heat of June and its football team won the Class 7A state title in the cold of November.
Some Orland Park standouts helped the New Lenox private school bring home the top trophies including Ben Salvador in baseball and Jake Rost and Richie Warfield in football.
$110. Aces wild
Palos Heights resident Bob Murphy recorded to holes-in-one in a six-day span at two different courses in June.
He had an ace at the Bolingbrook Golf Club on a 152-yard, 13th hole on June 17, six days after he aced the 109-yard seventh hole at the Zigfield Troy Gold Club in Woodridge. It brought up his career hole-in-one total to four.