This is one fine-ite family

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

In math, there is a term called a finite number.

This is a number that is real, although impossible to calculate.

For instance, there is a finite number of every blade of grass in Illinois, but good luck finding it.

What we have here in the area sporting world is something similar.

Oak Lawn’s Pat Niego has eight children and 30 grandchildren. Some have made their marks in sports. Some are making their marks in athletics right now. A few are too young.

Many have starred on the grade school and high school level and some did well on the college level. Most played basketball

So, the big question is: how many sporting events has Pat Niego seen over the years?

Good luck finding THAT answer.

“I have no idea,” she said. “I can’t even think about it. That’s just way, way, way too many. The boys played in grammar school in two or three different leagues. It was like three or four games a week sometime. Thousands, at least. I don’t know. I can’t count them.’’

She’s seen a variety of sports from the pee-wee level to college level. She couldn’t come up with what the biggest game she ever attended.

“All of the games are exciting and important,” she said diplomatically.

Pat and her husband Ron, who died 28 years ago, raised eight kids –Charlie, Tom, Mary, Terri, Joe, Mark, Nancy and Quinn.

Charlie, Tom, Joe and Mark played at De La Salle and were starters on Lewis University’s basketball team that was ranked in the top 10 in Division II in 1985-86 and Sports Illustrated did a story on them that appeared Jan. 20, 1986. By the way, the cover story was of Jim McMahon and the Bears going to the Super Bowl.

Mary, Terri and Nancy also played hoops at Lewis after prepping at Maria.

Quinn, who was 13 at the time of the SI story, told the magazine he was not interested in the sport. “I eat popcorn.’’ he said.

Now those eight are grown up and have kids of their own.

Thirty to be exact.

So far.

Some are making their mark in basketball and other sports.

Joe’s son, Harrison, was a top player for Lyons Township and is a preferred walk-on freshman at Indiana University.

Charlie’s son, Quinn, is playing basketball for St. Xavier University after a stint at Brother Rice.

Mary’s son, Willie McNamara plays football at Dartmouth. She had another son, Tom McNamara, played football at Northwood University in Michigan.

A host of volleyball stars figure to come from this clan with Charlie’s daughter, Charley, a sophomore at Mother McAuley who is making an impact on one of the best programs in the state, leading the way.

This new generation of Niegos figures to be around for a while. But think about this -- when these 30 have kids and those kids have kids…

Ron and Pat Niego started a dynasty and how many years Niegos will be starring in sports will be a big-time finite number.

niego tree