Titletown USA? It’s right here

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

The 2014-15 high school sports season officially opens Monday, when boys’ and girls’ golf teams are able to compete.

  The 12 schools in this paper’s coverage area have teams involved in several sports and each of them has dreams of winning a state championship. Based on past performances, at least some of those aren’t necessarily pipe dreams.
  This is a region where the winning of state titles has become a pretty regular occurrence. According to Illinois High School Association records, a total of 61 championships have been captured by local teams, all but six of them collected since the start of the 1980-81 school year.
  From 1980-81 through 1995-96 at least one top prize was brought home by an area program. The streak ended in 1996-97 but only briefly — another six-year run got underway beginning in the fall of 1997.

Payne experiences pleasure

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Evergreen native helps hoops team go unbeaten

  There were hundreds of travel basketball teams playing in several tournaments in Las Vegas during the last weekend of July.
  Precious few went undefeated.
  It was the final live period for summer teams and players to show their skills in front of NCAA Division I coaches. With some of the country’s best high school players going against each other, wins were understandably difficult to collect.
  But Full Package South, a team featuring Evergreen Park native David Payne, finished 8-0 and won the Platinum Division of the Las Vegas Classic after beating Pro Skills 51-44 in the title contest. Payne led the squad with 17 points before enjoying a boisterous celebration with his teammates afterward.
  That success came just a few hours after a five-overtime 73-69 victory over Greenline (California), which followed a 63-46 win over the Utah Chargers.
  Oh, and the Full Package team only had seven players, all of whom were dog tired by the end.
  “It took all seven of us to win the tournament,” Payne said. “One player broke his wrist before the tournament and another had started football, [so] it was hard. We were all sore and stiff after each game.

Community sports news

Chicago Ridge Liberty 14U team takes first

  The Chicago Ridge Liberty 14U softball team took first place at a recent tournament in Flossmoor. Liberty won all five of their games at the event.
  Team members include Melissa Carroll, Allison Wilson, Candace Kostial, Jamie Fields, Urte Barauskas, Ava Vaselakos, Alexa Minervini, Abby Minervini, Isis Rodriguez and Katie Strache. Liberty coaches are Mike Carroll, Tony Minervini and Jeff Kostial.
  The Liberty 12U team also enjoyed a fine summer as it went 27-0.

Oak Lawn Lightning begin evaluation dates
  The Oak Lawn Lightning have begun evaluation dates for their various 2015 baseball teams.
  Remaining sessions will be held today for the 11U and 13U teams and Friday for the 14U squad. Today’s evaluations will run 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Kolb Field (11U) and 8-10 p.m. at SAC2 (13U). Friday’s session for 14U players will go from 7-9 p.m. at SAC2.
  Players should be dressed in proper baseball attire (cap, T-shirt, pants, cleats) and must supply their own glove. They are also advised to bring something to drink.
  For more information, contact Gregg Laurencell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or John Attig at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Lights, camera, action

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Baseball teams can begin using video equipment during game

NFHSLOGO For years television stations have used teasers to promote their local news shows, often promising “film at 11.”
  Soon high school baseball coaches will adopt the same sort of tactic, except their film will actually be a more advanced form of video recording that can — and probably will — be shown anytime and anywhere.
  The National Federation of State High School Associations ruled last month that, beginning in 2015, teams will be permitted to use video monitoring or replay equipment for coaching purposes during games. Previously, Rule 3-3-1 allowed for use of video equipment but not during games for coaching purposes.
  “With advancements in technology, it was extremely difficult for officials to determine if teams were using video replay during games,” Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services, said in a statement. “The committee determined it was the right time to permit teams to use these technological aids if they so choose.”
  How will the rule revision alter the local baseball landscape next spring? Perhaps not as much as one might think.
  Several coaches were already videotaping their players at other times; doing so during games is merely an extension of that. And, in fact, in-game taping wasn’t completely off-limits before —it just couldn’t be done from an on-field vantage point.
  Shepard coach Frank DiFoggio would have his team’s games taped and later put together an instructional package. He watched for “everything — where we were [stationed defensively] when we made an error, what we did [offensively] with runners on base, things like that.”
  Players were free to view anything they wanted, but DiFoggio cited just one instance where an athlete took full advantage of the opportunity.
  “Adam Samad wanted to see every one of the at-bats he had,” DiFoggio said of his former all-area outfielder. “But he was really the only kid that would do that. About two-thirds of the games I taped and I’m [usually] the only one who watched.”
  As for the NFHS revision, few people are surprised it occurred given the proliferation of IPads and other hand-held devices with which scorekeeping and stats updating can be done in rapid fashion.


Winning’s OK, but not at all costs

  First off, let’s be clear about one thing: It’s very easy for us to criticize.
  We sports fans continually berate professional athletes for taking the best possible deal made available to them unless that deal is being offered by a team we really like. Then all insults are off.
  We tend to be less harsh with collegiate athletes because the money they receive under the table pales in comparison to what pro jocks earn and doesn’t cause the price of game tickets to jump too dramatically. If an athlete’s free ride ultimately results in higher tuition for our own kids, though, we get angered.
  Ticking us off the most is the fact that our offspring weren’t blessed with the ability to throw a touchdown pass while getting blitzed or sky over defenders for a slam dunk. Sure, they’re intelligent enough to pass physics and calculus classes, but if they were talented athletes someone else would be sitting in class taking tests for them so they could be freed up to attend practice.