Jan-Feb 2017 Cub Issue (published)
Headline: N-Zone expectations remain high for next year
Story: Heading into next year, N-Zone plans on revamping their main themes. Past themes included USA, sports jerseys, blackouts, whiteouts and more. Their main objective is to promote school spirit and get students to come to athletic events.
The N-Zone Twitter account is their main source of promotion for sporting events. With the direction of Mark Mirandola, the CTE department chair, N-Zone has become a common sight at football and basketball games over the years.
In 2009, Mirandola and varsity basketball coach Jim Thomas began N-Zone with the goal of an organized student section.
“Over the first few years, Kim Jaros [Special Services teacher] and I were officially the sponsors. So, I have the longest history with this group,” Mirandola said. “I still attend some meetings, help design and order shirts, and help organize and supervise many of the events. And as Assistant Student Activities Director, I have a role in helping oversee the group.”
As of 2017, business teacher Andrew Himes and science teacher Megan Gilbert are the two main sponsors for N-Zone.
“I think N-Zone has had a successful year. The students have had a great experience attending basketball and football games this season. We hope to attend other sporting events that don’t get as much attention in the future,” Gilbert said.
In her first year with N-Zone, junior Evie Brindl enjoyed her experience as an N-Zone leader and wants to see more growth in the group.
“Being a part of N-Zone is awesome because it brings everyone together. No matter what your interests are, everyone can relate to one another to have fun,” Brindl said.
With the help of four to five leaders, N-Zone plans fun-filled themes that encourage students to attend games.
“One of my favorite parts of N-Zone is finding cool themes to use. I like to talk to some of the players on the team we are supporting and get their perspective on what they want their student section to look like! That way no one feels left out and everyone is connected,” Brindl said.
During basketball season, N-Zone implemented a new fan-friendly activity during halftime of home games. Students are given ticket numbers, and if their number is pulled from a pot, the student has an opportunity to attempt a half-court shot. If the student makes it, they win 200 dollars.
“I think the half-court shot challenge was a great idea that was put together by our leaders. It allows the fans to become more engaged during a game and add to the electric atmosphere of the student section,” N-Zone member senior Tyler Wicks said.
Wicks believes that N-Zone is moving in the right direction. With a few changes, he says that the group will become even better.
“We are doing a lot of things well, but there are some things we could definitely improve on. Our Twitter account is only teacher-led at the moment, which makes it more difficult to cover all of the sports at school. If we allowed the account to be student-led, I think the fans would enjoy the tweets and updates even more,” Wicks said.
With N-Zone already established as a prominent group at DGN, it will be interesting to see what new ideas they create in the future. As long as it is within reason, members are willing to take anyone’s advice to make the group better. Students can get involved by following @dgNzone on Twitter, and attending meetings throughout the year.
March issue 2016 (published)
Headline: Boys’ baseball: DGN looking to contend for regional title
In 2016, the Trojans showed promise and that they could compete with the top teams in the state. During the regular season, the Trojans finished 15-19. Including playoffs, they finished with an overall record of 17-19, along with a 10-11 record in conference play. DGN knocked off number-two ranked Hinsdale South in their second round regional playoff game before losing to Plainfield East in the regional championship 7-3.
Heading into the new season, the Trojans hope to build off last year’s playoff appearance and take another step in the right direction towards regional title contention. Some of the returning seniors include: outfielder Dave Guiliano (Cornell College), infielder and pitcher Nick Taviani (Upper Iowa), and third baseman Nolan Young (St. Ambrose) among others.
With senior first baseman and pitcher James Krick (Hillsdale) out for the season with an ACL injury, and senior third baseman Matt King no longer attending DGN, the Trojans hope to rely on new talent to help them stay afloat in an ultra-competitive West Suburban Silver Conference race – which Oak Park River Forest won in 2016. Incoming varsity pitcher junior Nick Bacarella should already add to a deep pitching rotation this season. The Trojans are seeking their first conference championship since 2010.
Assistant coach Andrew Himes believes that former first baseman and catcher, 2016 graduate Ryan Cantlin, will be a big loss for DGN heading into the new season. However, he is confident that he has the talent to fill the primary positions.
“Ryan was a leader, our number one starting pitcher, and was a strong defensive presence at first base. That is a lot of experience on the mound and at first we will be losing. We have guys that have the ability to step up and do the job, but time will tell,” Himes said.
Himes feels that the Trojans have potential this season and is looking forward to the challenge of contending for a regional championship again.
“Last year, we saw in the playoffs we could compete with the top teams in the state. Our expectation every year is to compete with anyone we play,” Himes said.
Junior Jack Carr is looking forward to another season and adapting to varsity baseball with new teammates.
“The seniors are some of the best baseball players I’ve met. As juniors coming up to join the seniors, it’s a lot of learning and the seniors do a great job teaching us. The seniors have shoes to fill, and the juniors and I are doing a great job to fill those shoes,” Carr said.
Despite Oak Park River Forest’s recent run of dominance, Carr believes that the Trojans have a shot to contend for a conference title.
“Oak Park is an excellent program and they have great success every year, but I believe that our team can really push for a conference title,” Carr said.
Senior Connor Dennison loves the game of baseball and wants to leave a legacy at DGN after he graduates for how he played and for his leadership qualities.
“When I graduate, I want to be known as the guy who was a grinder but still had fun. I want to be known as the guy that always came in early to go over film of how I was pitching. In addition, I want to maintain my fun personality with the boys on and off the field,” Dennison said.
Head coach Chad Isaacson is a former DGN alum and has been coaching at the varsity level since 1999. He is looking forward to another season and to help his players become better leaders and people.
“I am excited for each and every year. I enjoy going into the season and working with our players to help them improve both on and off of the field. Our job is to help provide them with the tools to have success to become better players and better people,” Isaacson said.
Isaacson believes Oak Park River Forest and Lyons Township will be near the top of the conference yet again in 2017, and the Trojans are ready for the challenge.
“OPRF and Lyons Township are the two most common opponents on top of our conference standings. These are two of the best public high school teams in the state of Illinois year in and year out. Both of those teams will be in the conversation again this year, but there is a lot of talent throughout the entire conference schedule,” Isaacson said.
The Trojans will open their season with a road contest against Plainfield Central on March 20 with the first pitch beginning at 4:30 p.m.
April-May Issue (not published)
Headline: Bears’ second overall pick leaves fans searching for answers
On April 27 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA, NFL fans gathered to watch the 2017 NFL Draft unfold. For the Chicago Bears, questions loomed all around the NFL as to who the Bears would take with the number-three overall pick. What would happen during the first 30-minutes of television airtime of round one on ESPN was a storyline that NFL fans—Bears’ fans in particular—will be discussing for many years to come.
During the weeks leading up to the draft, sportswriters make predictions about which players will be selected in each round and what team they will go to. According to Mel Kiper, a long-time ESPN draft analyst, his mock draft order of the first five picks of round one went as follows: Cleveland Browns (Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M), San Francisco 49ers (Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford), Chicago Bears (Jamal Adams, S, LSU), Jacksonville Jaguars (Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama), and Tennessee Titans (Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State).
The Bears have not made the playoffs since 2010 when they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship, 21-14. Since then, the Bears have been searching for answers on offense and defense through the draft and free agency. However, former Bears’ players such as WR Sam Hurd, TE Greg Olsen, and RB Chester Taylor have yet to produce a playoff contender. On March 9, SBNation, as well as other prominent sports sources, reported that seven-year quarterback Jay Cutler was released by the team. A day later, according to Bleacher Report, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon was signed by the Bears to replace Cutler as the starting quarterback. Fans unleashed their frustration at Bears’ management through social media regarding their recent acquisition.
With the Bears projected as the number-three pick, fans were hoping that they would make the right pick and select defensive end Solomon Thomas from Stanford University. As 7:25 p.m approached, the draft started to heat up. The Bears made a trade with the 49ers to move up to the number-two pick by trading away their third overall pick and third and fourth-round picks of the 2017 Draft, as well as a third-round pick in the 2018 Draft in an unexpected turn of events. They would select North Carolina quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, with the number-two overall pick.
Trubisky played 13 games for the Tar Heels during the 2016 season and threw 30 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He also completed 68 percent of his passes and averaged 288.3 passing yards per game, ranking number one in college football amongst all FBS quarterbacks according to CBS Sports. With a strong offensive line and mobility in his legs, Trubisky and the Tar Heels met Stanford in the Sun Bowl on Dec 30, 2016. A late rally by the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter would not be enough as they fell to the Cardinal in a two-point loss, 25-23.
Instead of coming back for his senior season, Trubisky decided to forego his eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. The Bears have been searching for the next great quarterback to lead them back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2006. Head coach John Fox and General Manager Ryan Pace have been trying to rebuild since the regime took over in 2015. They believe that drafting Trubisky is the first of many steps in the rebuilding process. Since 2010, the Bears have had four losing seasons.
In a Chicago Tribune opinion editorial written by sportswriter David Haugh on April 27, Pace felt confident that he made the right choice.
“As an organization, we had conviction on this quarterback and we did what we had to do to get him,” Pace said.
According to Pro Football Reference, the last Bears’ quarterback to be drafted number-two overall was in 1939 when they selected future Hall of Famer Sid Luckman. During his career with the Monsters of the Midway, Luckman set a franchise record for passing yards, completions, and touchdowns. Those records were broken by Cutler in 2015. Luckman led the Bears to championships in 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946. Maybe history will repeat itself with Trubisky being picked in the same spot as Luckman.
Even though Pace and Fox are happy with their draft selection, long-time fans of the team are disgusted with the selection because there were other quarterbacks available with better stats and championships on their resume. Deshaun Watson, a Clemson quarterback who was drafted number 12 overall by the Houston Texans, won a National Championship on Jan. 9 in dramatic fashion with a last-second touchdown pass against number-one ranked Alabama. With Watson’s leadership, mobility, and accuracy, Watson would have been an ideal fit in Chicago as a key focal point of the offense. Trubisky is facing many doubts from multiple fans about his ability at the quarterback position and if his junior year stats can live up to the hype.
While Trubisky may have had a solid 2016 season and led his team to a bowl appearance, his lack of college football experience as a starter will ultimately have a negative impact at the pro level.
August 2017 issue (published online)
Headline: Students weigh-in on Mayweather-McGregor
Story: In sports, there is always one game or series that decides who is a champion in a respective league. In the NBA, two teams play a seven-game series. In the NHL, the same applies as well as the MLB. However, in combat sports, two fighters meet in the center of a ring or octagon with the goal of finishing their opponent or winning via the judges’ scorecards.
On August 26, the most unlikely fight in the history of combat sports will occur as “The Notorious” Conor McGregor meets Floyd “Money” Mayweather at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Mayweather is 49-0 in professional boxing whereas McGregor is making his debut. McGregor is the current UFC lightweight and former UFC featherweight champion. Upsets have occurred in the past, but this one has potential to be the biggest one in the history of combat sports.
Longtime McGregor fan, senior Austin Novak, gave his thoughts on the fight and if McGregor has a chance to win.
“McGregor just has to make him look silly. “ If he can make Floyd miss over and over, then I think he’s done enough. McGregor has to have a quick start and bring the fight to Floyd. Floyd is quick though, so Conor has to fight smart and use his angles, as well as his unusual style to beat Mayweather. If he beats him, he can fight anyone,” Novak said
With a massive fight comes the hype aspect. From July 11-14, the UFC and Mayweather Promotions teamed up to deliver a four-city press tour that consisted of Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London. Due to their polarizing personalities, the two superstars engaged in trash talk that consisted of racism, the IRS, and money among other things. While some fans have embraced the build-up, others have not.
Senior Kevin Sachtleben enjoys major sporting events. He feels this fight will live up to the hype and believes anything is possible once the fight actually begins.
“He [McGregor] has been an underdog before in his previous fights. “The money that this fight is generating is astronomical and I cannot wait to see what happens August 26. Floyd is a great fighter, but Conor has this belief that he can beat anyone. I am leaning towards McGregor because of it,” Schatleben said.
At MGM Grand Casinos, 1,600 people have bet on McGregor while only 277 have bet on Mayweather according to the official sportsbook. In addition, the fight is trending at over five million pay-per-view buys, according to Dave Metzler’s Wrestling Observer.
Senior Sarah Jaworski has seen McGregor in action before. On August 20, 2016, McGregor avenged a March loss to fellow welterweight Nate Diaz, a fight that she certainly enjoyed. Although she does not care about the actual fight on August 26, she feels its entertainment value will make her want to tune-in and watch it.
“I am probably cheering for McGregor because he seems like the underdog; It’s always fun to see an underdog come out on top,” Jaworski said.
The fight will be distributed all over the world on numerous platforms. Its price tag is 100 dollars in high-definition and is being built as “The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History”. According to Forbes, McGregor is expected to make 100 million whereas Mayweather is set to make 350 million dollars.
Update: Mayweather defeated McGregor by 10th-round TKO. The win put Mayweather at 50-0, breaking Rocky Marciano’s record.
August 2017 Issue (not published, extra credit)
Headline: 2017 NFL Season Preview: Who can beat New England?
On Feb. 5, the New England Patriots completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Down 28-3 at halftime, all hope seemed lost. However, the QB for the Patriots is Tom Brady, arguably one of the best to ever play the position. What happened in the second half only can be described in one word: masterful. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady and the offense tied the game at 28 on a two-point conversion by WR Julian Edelman. In overtime, the Patriots won the coin toss and drove down the field into Atlanta Falcons territory. As the end zone drew near, RB James White received a handoff from Brady, leading to the game-winning touchdown as they won 34-28. Heading into the 2017 season, one question looms: can the Patriots be beaten?
NFC North: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings
In 2016, the Green Bay Packers stood at 4-6 after the first 10 weeks of the season. With another loss, the Packers would be all but out of playoff contention. That’s when Aaron Rodgers, the Packers long-time starting QB, uttered a single word after a week 11 loss against the Washington Redskins: relax. Following the remark, the Packers won their final six games, guaranteeing themselves an NFC North division title and playoff berth. They would ultimately lose in the NFC Championship at the hands of the Super Bowl runner-up Falcons, 44-21.
Senior Brandon McCartney is a long-time Packers fan and expects nothing more than a great year from his favorite team.
“I think the Packers will finish with a 12-4 record. Look at who Aaron Rodgers has on offense: TE Martellus Bennett, WR Davante Adams, WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb. In addition, they also have a sleeper on offense in second-year WR Trevor Davis who has a chance to have a really good season. “Rodgers also has a solid offensive line even with the loss of G TJ Lang.” I think the defense will be much better this season. They drafted CB Kevin King in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Washington who has a chance to be really good. I think the Packers will upset the Falcons week two,” McCartney said.
McCartney also feels that the Packers can win the Super Bowl this season. In 2010, the Packers made the playoffs as a Wildcard in a week 17 win over the Bears at Lambeau Field. The Packers would upset the Pittsburgh Steelers 25-20 in Super Bowl XLV, capping off an unexpected playoff run that saw the Packers win three consecutive road games en route to a championship. They are listed at 10-1 odds to win the Super Bowl this season.
With the Bears drafting Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick, the Bears hope to build a foundation in 2017. Their odds for the Super Bowl are listed at 100-1.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns
The Steelers are led by 13-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion QB Ben Roethlisberger. On offense, the Steelers will continue to utilize WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell to help them win games. In 2016, the Steelers won the AFC North on Christmas Day in week 16 over the division rival Baltimore Ravens. This win would secure a home playoff game for the Steelers in the Wildcard round, dispatching the Miami Dolphins 30-12. A road victory against the Kansas City Chiefs the following week would set up an AFC Championship clash against the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots, where they would fall, 36-17. They look to defend their conference title once again and make another deep run in the playoffs.
In this year’s draft, they selected QB Joshua Dobbs in the fourth-round out of the University of Tennessee and LB TJ Watt out of the University of Wisconsin in the first-round, which should hopefully add depth on both sides of the ball and set a foundation for future Steelers teams.
The Cincinnati Bengals missed the playoffs in 2016 for the first time in six years. They finished with a 5-10-1 record, leaving many fans unhappy with the direction of the franchise. Senior Nate Cummings gave his thoughts on the Bengals and if they can return to the postseason in 2017.
“The Bengals will make the playoffs this year because WR’s A.J Green and John Ross, as well as TE Tyler Eifert, will all be great options for QB Andy Dalton to throw to. While the defense will be down this year with LB Vontase Burfict suspended, I feel they will be able to make a Wildcard regardless,” Cummings said.
In the AFC, my division winners are the Steelers out of the North, the Tennessee Titans out of the South, the Patriots out of the East and the Oakland Raiders out of the West. In the NFC, the Packers will win the North, the Dallas Cowboys will win the East, the Atlanta Falcons will win the South and the Seattle Seahawks will win the West.
Primarily, the main reason for my predictions is because each division winner has a young team, explosive offense, and playoff experience. In the Super Bowl, the Patriots will be repeat champions, defeating the Dallas Cowboys 24-17.
The NFL season will kickoff on Sept. 7 in Foxborough, MA when the Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football from Gillette Stadium.
August 2017 issue (published)
Headline: Athlete of the Month: Margaret Mahlke
Story: Varsity volleyball player and junior Margaret Mahlke has made a key impact on the girls’ volleyball team as an outside hitter. She is a Saint Louis University commit and plans to study physical therapy as well as play volleyball.
On Aug. 29 and 30, the girls won first two matches of the season over Naperville Central (26-24, 25-22) and Lincoln-Way East (25-22, 20-25, 25-20). In the game against the Redhawks, Mahlke finished with seven kills.
According to IHSA, the Trojans are ranked ninth in the state and are seeking their first WSSC title since 2007.
“It’s a pretty great ranking to have, but I don’t think it’s influenced us too much because no matter what your rank is, everyone still has to put in the work and effort,” Mahlke said.
Her teammates are inspired by her dedication towards the program.
“Margaret brings lots of positivity to the team and is willing to do anything to make her teammates better,” senior Clare Delaplane said.
Mahlke is also heavily involved in Positively North Stars and ELITE.’
October 2017 issue (published)
Headline: Changing of the guard: Briscoe takes over head coaching duties
Story: On Sept. 21, athletic director Denise Kavanaugh announced that sophomore baseball coach and Special Services teacher, Kyle Briscoe, would be named the new varsity coach, replacing 18-year veteran Chad Isaacson.
Isaacson feels spending more time with family is most important, which was the main reason for him stepping down.
“My son has an opportunity to play volleyball in college, so I want to be at his games during all four years,” Isaacson said.
Briscoe has been looking forward to becoming the head coach since Isaacson hinted that he would be stepping down before the 2018 season after the 2015 season had concluded.
“I’m very excited [to be the head coach],” Briscoe said. “Having the interim tag was a great thing. I was able to learn a lot from being a head coach over the summer. With [Coach Isaacson] stepping down, I have been making sure to take notes over the last few years in order to learn how the program runs.”
Briscoe is a 2003 DGN graduate and has been with the baseball program as a coach since 2012. Being a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball) in high school drew him to coaching. When Briscoe was a freshman, Isaacson was in his first year as head coach. After graduating from DePaul University with a degree in Special Education, Briscoe decided to pursue teaching and coaching. With him being at the coaching helm for baseball, he feels his DGN legacy has come full circle.
“Working under [Coach Isaacson] was a great thing and I think he’s done a great job for 17 years with the program,” Briscoe said. “I think I have a great rapport with the kids and can have the difficult conversations with them on and off the field since I am a lot younger.”
Along with Briscoe being an alum, his brother Matt was a part of the 2004 State Championship football team, and his father was the captain of the football team in 1974. It’s safe to say that athletics and the Briscoe family go together.
“I grew up going to football games [at Carstens Field] and other DGN games as a kid,” Briscoe said. “I have taken lessons from John Wander, Pete Ventrelli, Paul Franson, and even Jim Thomas in order to create my own style of coaching.”
Assistant coach Andrew Himes will remain on the varsity staff for the Trojans and has been with the program since 2012. Himes is excited to work with Briscoe again in familiar territory.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work together [with Briscoe],” Himes said. “During our first year coaching together at DGN, Isaacson, myself, and Briscoe all coached together on varsity. Working together over the summer got us back into the swing of things and we are looking forward to the spring.”
Briscoe’s decision to pursue the head coaching position became apparent once Himes was on board.
“I would not have accepted the head coaching job had [Himes] not decided to come back,” Briscoe said. “We have a great relationship and I feel we have a great staff overall for the upcoming season.”
Senior and Lewis University commit 1B/P Nick Bacarella is excited to be coached by Briscoe and will miss Isaacson’s presence every day during practice and games.
“I’m excited for Briscoe [to become the new coach] because he knows all of us really well,” Bacarella said. “He coached us sophomore year, so he knows who to play and everything. I think he will be a good coach.”
Senior 3B Sam Cogger feels he’s learned some important lessons from Isaacson and hopes to carry them with him heading into the 2018 season.
“One of the most important lessons that [Coach Isaacson] taught me was hard work,” Cogger said. Hard work is a huge part of life whether you are playing on the baseball field, in school, or in the business world.”
Isaacson will miss being in the dugout every day but feels Briscoe will continue the foundation he set in 2000.
“Change is always a good thing, different voices is a good thing and I believe the kids are in good hands with Briscoe and he will lead them in the right direction,” Isaacson said.
October 2017 issue (published)
Headline: Athlete of the Month: Jade Mejia Wick
Story: Senior and three-year varsity softball player Jade Mejia Wick is a DePauw University commit. She is excited about the opportunity, as she has been looking forward to playing collegiately since age 12.
Mejia Wick’s experience on her travel team, Nationals, helped her draw exposure from schools, as well as gave her the opportunity to play on the same team as some of her DGN counterparts.
“[Mackenzie Bernhard, Madi Greenberg, and Renae Bielawa] play on Nationals with me, which has been nice since we can make ourselves better,” Mejia Wick said.
Her junior season is his favorite season to date, but she is excited about her senior season as the Trojans look to defend their regional title.
“Our goal is to win a regional championship every year, which we were able to do last year by beating Plainfield East,” Mejia Wick said. “I feel that we can win conference this year since Oak Park River Forest lost their starting pitcher to Auburn.”
She plans to major in pre-law and minor in Spanish at DePauw University.
November-December issue (published)
Headline: Girls’ volleyball bonds over success
Story: At 7:35 p.m on Nov. 3 at Geneva High School, St. Charles North (37-5) stormed the court in jubilation as they advanced to the IHSA state semifinals in three sets (25-15, 16-25, 15-25). For the Trojans (27-13), however, it was the end of a long and memorable season that had many significant triumphs and accomplishments.
After 29 years, the girls’ had won their first sectional championship since 2006 and ended a 10-year drought, winning a WSC title. Despite a trip to Normal being cut short, the team is already looking ahead to next season and wants to focus on the positives of the season as a whole.
Head coach Mark Wasik, who has been with DGN volleyball since 2006, reflected on the loss.
“My initial reaction to the loss to St. Charles North was a disappointment,” Wasik said. “Their sadness was a reflection of their hard work, how strongly they bonded as a team, and the awesome season that we were able to have.”
The team is saying farewell to seniors Kessie Olekanma, Madi Chudzik, Cassidy Baran, Kinzie Geist, and University of Villanova commit Clare Delaplane, all of whom were key pieces that helped shape the team’s success.
On and off the court, the girls continued to grow closer as a team, which, in their opinion, kept the wins coming during the postseason.
“Our team chemistry has improved a lot from August until now,” Olekanma said.“ At first, a lot of the juniors were shy and quiet, but these four months allowed us to warm up to each other. The long tournaments have helped us get to know one another, and we enjoyed linking up at Andy’s Frozen Custard on the weekends.”
Junior Jade Casper feels that her team’s positivity and winning attitude helped her mature and become a better player because of the daily positive vibes that her team brought to each practice and game day, regardless of the outcome.
“Playing side by side to the seniors on my team has really helped me to grow to a different level of maturity in volleyball,” Casper said. “They have helped me to push not only my physical skills as a player but my intellectual skills as well. Without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”
A regional championship victory in front of a home crowd also stuck with junior and Saint Louis University commit Margaret Mahlke, knowing that Lyons Township (18-18) wanted to win a title for their coach who is retiring at the end of the school year.
“Winning a regional title at home means the world to me and my teammates—especially our seniors,” Mahlke said. “It was their last time playing a volleyball game in the Purple Gym, and to go out with a huge win made me super happy for them because I knew it meant as much to them as it did to me. It really was an experience I will never forget.”
Sophomore Beth Dunlap’s favorite memory of the season was upsetting number-one seed Glenbard West (29-10) in the sectional championship with her teammates.
“To be completely honest, it felt amazing [defeating the Hilltoppers]. Before the game, I tried my hardest to not think about it and not psych myself out, but after the game, it was an unreal feeling of bliss knowing my team was able to make history,” Dunlap said.
Olekanma, the starting libero, was named to the Top 20 Uncommitted Athletes list in the state for girls’ volleyball and hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy in college. On Dec. 3, Delaplane and Olekanma competed in the 8th Annual Illinois Volleyball All-Star Game, which took place at College of DuPage.
“When I heard the news, I was super excited because I did not think I would be nominated,” Olekanma said. “I can not wait to play in the showcase game in December because a lot of girls I played club with will be there, and it will be fun to reunite with them as we play our last high school volleyball game.”
Olekanma played tennis, basketball, and soccer, and participated in gymnastics and dance when she was younger. However, she ultimately decided volleyball would be her best outlet.
“My friends in sixth grade all played club volleyball, so I decided to pursue it with them. It was fun being on the same team as them and we traveled to tournaments in Michigan or Arizona,” Olekanma said.
With her DGN volleyball career complete, Olekanma feels she has learned multiple lessons from her coaches and teammates that will help her in the future.
“Being a part of the team this year has made me mature as a player and a person in many ways,” Olekanma said. “I loved working with different age groups throughout the season, all the way from camp up until state playoffs. The underclassman such as Mikayla [Sweeney], Maddie [Degiorgio], and Beth [Dunlap] each gave me a new perspective on ways to view the game.”
As Wasik looks ahead to 2018, he is looking forward to extending their playoff run even further. In his 12 seasons as head coach, this team is one he will always remember. Despite the losses of Delaplane and Olekanma, he is looking forward to the new season.
“Losing [Delaplane] and [Olekanma] is huge as they were huge contributors to our team,” Wasik said. “[Delaplane] led us in many statistical categories such as kills, aces, and was an anchor on defense and in serve receive. [Olekanma] was an outstanding defensive player for us, leading us in serve receive and in digs. That said, we return many of the same pieces from this year, and as most of them continue to train and improve their games, we have the potential to have another great year in 2018.”
November-December issue (published)
Headline: Athlete to Watch: Simone Bailargeon
Story: The name Baillargeon is synonymous with varsity cheer at DGN. Freshman Simone continues to add to the cheerleading tradition as both of her sisters, 2016 graduate Sophie and 2017 graduate Suzanne, participated in cheer during high school. With Baillargeon being the only freshman on the team, the transition for her was tough at first.
“I came from Avery Coonley, and only one other girl from my grade came here,” Baillargeon said. “I started cheer in the summer since tryouts were in the spring, so I was able to meet a lot more people through that and they were all really nice and welcoming.”
Math teacher and head varsity cheer coach Allyson Passarelli is familiar with the Baillargeon family, allowing Simone to find her role on the team from the beginning.
“[Passarelli] realized I was a freshman and did not know anyone on the team. She helped me fit in more and also knew my sisters. I would say our relationship has been pretty good,” Baillargeon said.
She plans to become involved in Positively North Stars after competition and basketball season ends.
January issue (online)
Headline: Wrestling establishes social media presence
Story: New head coach Joe Horeni returns home to Downers Grove for the first time in a decade. He will just be wearing different colors. A DGS Hall of Famer and 2001 football state champion, Horeni is excited for the opportunity to lead the Trojans, and win a WSC title. Previously the head coach at Highland Park, he led the Giants to back-to-back playoff appearances, finishing 15-14.
Horeni replaces social studies teacher John Wander, who was a 1984 DGN graduate, offensive coordinator, and 2004 state championship head coach. He knows that he has big shoes to fill, but has a set vision for the program.. The news was made official at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 26. He becomes only the fifth head coach in DGN history, and the first since 2002.
“Our motto for this season will be “Extreme Ownership,” Horeni said at the players’ only meeting at DGN March 1. Ownership in everything you do, from the classroom to the football field. We want to put a team on the field that the community can be proud of each week.”
DGN qualified for the state playoffs in four out of the last six seasons, but Horeni’s goals remain much higher.
“I grew up in Downers Grove,” Horeni said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach at DGN. When the job was posted, I was so excited to be a part of the community I grew up in.” “[DGN] is a great school in terms of academics and athletics.
Horeni complimented DGN’s athletic success and is excited to begin coaching.
“Obviously, with the [boys’] cross-country team winning a state championship, and the football team having great success, I’m looking forward to competing in the WSC.”
Assistant coach Keith Lichtenberg will remain defensive coordinator for the sixth-straight season, and looks forward to a fresh start.
“It has been great to get to know Coach Horeni over the last few weeks,” Lichtenberg said. “From the interview process to the meetings that we have had, he has been the same person throughout. I have come to know him as a leader of character that has talked about the importance of balancing family, teaching, and football.”
Horeni is looking forward to matching up with new York head coach Mike Fitzgerald Oct. 19. Horeni and Fitzgerald were assistants together during Horeni’s brief stint at Wheaton St. Francis, which makes the game a must-win.
“I view every game as a big challenge, but obviously we are facing a tough schedule. The preparation has already begun with staff meetings and after-school workouts,” Horeni said.
Horeni is inspired by past DGN coaching legends and looks to build his own legacy.
“Coach [Dick] Carstens, Coach [Pete] Ventrelli, and Coach [John] Wander have done a tremendous job of building this program over the years,” Horeni said. “I am honored to hold the same title as them. We need total buy-in from all our stakeholders. Our motto this year will be “Extreme Ownership,” This means taking complete control of everything that you can have an impact on. If we all buy in and live by this motto, we will be successful.”
Story: When I was a sophomore during the 2015-16 school year, the varsity basketball team qualified for the regional playoffs at Lyons Township. I had followed the team periodically throughout the year, because I managed at the sophomore level, and they always played after us. With that being said, I decided to attend their first playoff game.
The crowd was electric, and I was careful not to block anyone’s view. Approaching the end of the stands, an usher stopped me and told me to sit in the corner. When I asked why she was hesitant. I sat in the corner but never forgot that experience.
For people with disabilities, living with a condition they cannot control is a daily struggle, and remains something they need to manage.
Sometimes, disabled people feel they cannot fit in, making it difficult to do the same things as an able-bodied person can do, including attending a basketball game.
In 1991, Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act, stating that any new building or institution built from then on needed to comply with the law. I have to say, the law confuses most people, and it is vague. It specifically states that buildings need to be accessible for all, including people with physical impairments. Unfortunately, there are numerous definitions of the word ‘accessibility’.
Since I became a manager, the security personnel treats me with more respect than they did previously. I enter with the team and sit courtside.
However, there was a time when I was mistreated at a few away games before becoming a social media manager for the varsity football and boys’ basketball teams.
While you may be thinking that I’m happy about my courtside seat, honestly, I’m worried. Every time the ticket takers tell me to scoot past them, I remember that LT game. It leads me to two questions: what if a student with a disability just wants to see a game? What are they supposed to do?
Schools like Naperville Central, Maine South, and Naperville North installed ramps at their football stadiums, and designated seating areas for people in wheelchairs to see a game.
Hopefully, if the Master Facility Plan ballot measure passes (and the ramps are installed and stands are re-done), D99 will consider making the fence-line wider so more handicap seating can be added and not obstruct someone else’s view. At the end of the day, everyone deserves to see their team play, regardless of their ability or disability.
Story: It’s Saturday morning at approximately 9:15 a.m. Former head coach John Wander walks into the Drivers Ed classroom. Gathering his notes from Friday’s game, Bill Kleckner, who enters the room last, will coach on the varsity defensive staff for his 43rd season this upcoming August. Today’s film breakdown theme: fundamentals.
Kleckner began his DGN coaching career in 1975 as a substitute Drivers Ed summer school teacher. Earlier that year, Kleckner tried out and was cut by the Jacksonville Sharks, a World Football League team. Still looking for a job, Kleckner sent in an application, and principal Larry Bowers set up a meeting. After an extensive discussion, Kleckner would receive a teaching position and coaching position on the freshman football staff, before moving up to varsity with the late Dick Carstens in 1977.
“I saw a little bit of a difference in the economics of the school, the size of the school, and some of the benefits that go along with being in the public school system. I thought it was a good fit,” Kleckner said in regards to his decision to teach and coach at DGN.
A 1974 University of Illinois graduate, Kleckner played linebacker in the Big Ten Conference. During the 70s, the Illini football team did not have great success. However, his favorite memories include playing against two-time Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, and being with his teammates.
During Kleckner’s freshman year in college, he played on an all-freshman team, uncommon today. His first year allowed him to get prepared for varsity football, and become a better player. All incoming freshman players are eligible to play, unless they are a redshirt.
“It was a great experience [playing for Illinois],” Bill Kleckner said. “Archie Griffin was a beast. He had tremendous quickness and change of direction [at the running back position]. He left me gasping for air more than once.”
Kleckner has coached numerous DGN football players, including current UConn OLB Vontae Diggs, and Toledo LB Richard Olekanma. Both have lead their teams to bowl wins, respectively.
Kleckner also believes that talent does not make a player. He specifically looks for qualities that include being “coachable”, and having a leadership role on and off the field in school and the community.
2017 graduate Tyler Wicks was a linebacker who Kleckner coached for three seasons at the varsity level. Wicks credits his success to Kleckner, making him a better player and person.
“When I broke my elbow, [Kleckner] told me that this is not the end for me,” Wicks said. “He told me how I would come back even better, but he also challenged me to spread the knowledge I learned from my previous two years on varsity to the younger kids who had never played a game yet.”
2001 graduate and athletic Hall of Famer, Kyle Kleckner, followed in similar footsteps to his father. As captain of the varsity football and basketball teams, he was a highly regarded player, receiving all-WSC honors. This did not come naturally, however, as he praised his dad for his guidance in making him the best person he could be.
Kyle Kleckner would eventually play defensive back for the University of Illinois, and play in the 2008 Rose Bowl against the University of Southern California. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and visits DGN from time to time.
“If you could sum up [Bill Kleckner’s] coaching career in a phrase, it would be:”no job is too small,” Kyle Kleckner said. “He is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better. He understands that everyone has a role on the team and whatever that role is he is going to take pride in doing whatever is asked of him.”
Kyle Kleckner, who is also a husband and father, attributes his positive qualities to his dad.
“My dad brings great energy to life every day,” Kyle Kleckner said. “He always finds the positive in every situation and treats everyone the same regardless of who they are. Ultimately, he is a great person, and as simple as those three things sound, to do that everyday is challenging. He sets the bar high and makes me want to be a better husband, dad, family member, and friend.”
Bill Kleckner has been fortunate enough to work with numerous coaches and mentors over the years, including Wander, Pete Ventrelli, and new head coach, Joe Horeni.
“Coach Kleckner is a great man and coach,” Horeni said. “His energy is something we should all strive to have. His knowledge and dedication to DGN football is unmatched. He is an invaluable resource to me and the rest of the staff. He knows the opponents better than anybody because he knows their history.”
When Bill Kleckner decides to step away from coaching for good, he outlined a clear vision for how he wants DGN to recollect him. He has no regrets.
“I’d like to be remembered as a person that worked hard with his coaches and players, cared about his coaches and players, and had some fun in the process,” Bill Kleckner said.
In the NBA and NCAA, teams are allowed to possess the ball for no more than 30 seconds at a time. This rule speeds the game and makes the offense think more quickly, while the defense looks to steal the ball from its counterpart.
In high school, however, teams on offense can have the ball for an unlimited amount of time, abiding by the rules of the game.
According to MyStateLine.com, a local news source from Rockford, Illinois, the IHSA surveyed various coaches throughout the state on if a shot clock was a necessary rule change back in March. The results were evenly divided, as 222 coaches said a shot clock is not needed, while 221 said it is needed.
Varsity boys’ head coach Jim Thomas feels a shot clock would benefit the game.
“I would be supportive of a shot clock because that is what our student athletes would be playing with at the next level,” Thomas said. “It also gives a flow to the game and would eliminate the games few and far between where a team holds the ball on offense throughout the game as a tactic to ‘grind’ the other team out.”
Varsity girls’ basketball head coach Stephan Bolt, who played for the Trojans in the early 2000’s, has never coached with a shot clock. However, Bolt enjoys new challenges, and believes his players will adapt when needed if the clock is approved.
“I think it is good for the development of the game,” Bolt said. “Players will have to make quicker decisions and be more skilled and better offensively to execute and score. With a shot clock, I believe that more often, the ‘better’ team will win.”
While Bolt and Thomas agree on the shot clock’s importance to the game, Bolt feels private schools may have an unfair advantage.
“‘Cheater’ schools that are allowed to recruit their players will benefit the most as they will now have the most talented teams,” Bolt said. “The opposing team, like us, will not be able to possess the ball until we find a great shot. It creates a different mindset on defense when you know that you only have to play perfect defense for a limited amount of time.”
Thomas, who pays attention to detail before every contest, will make slight adjustments if needed when the clock is approved.
“Anyone’s coaching style would have to change or adjust to the change of having a shot clock,” Thomas said. “Being that you have a limited time in a possession to score, you would have to design and implement late shot clock situations.”
Illinois would join California, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Washington, North Dakota, and South Dakota to add a shot clock.
May 2018 issue (published)
Headline: Athlete of the Month: Sandy Greco
Story: Senior soccer goalkeeper Sandy Greco is a jack of all trades who ultimately found her niche in soccer, a game she started playing 13 years ago.
“Soccer has impacted my life in more ways than one. It has always been a great way to make friends and stay active,” Greco said. “The game has become something that I could not imagine my life without.”
Greco joined the varsity team her junior year, a year in which the Trojans finished 4th in State, a feat she hopes her team can repeat later this month. According to IHSA, the team is ranked 37th in state as of May 9.
“Last year, we were dubbed the underdogs, and it was the best feeling in the world to be able to defy all of those expectations and labels that were placed on us,” Greco said.
Off the field, Greco shares a love for girls’ basketball and wanted to stay involved by managing the girls’ team after switching to high school soccer full-time.
Greco will attend Lake Forest University, where she will study biochemistry and play soccer.
May Senior Issue 2018 (published)
Headline: From cars to the gridiron: my journey with social media
Story: During my early years, cars were at the center of my life. Attending car shows and learning about cars was all I did, until a shift took place. After watching a Bears-Packers game in 2008, I knew that all I wanted to do was become a sports fan.
No one told me to become a fan, I just did. I wanted to learn more, and become a part of a team, even if I could not play. Hours upon hours of research of teams, statistics, games, announcers, and everything in-between took over my life.
With my disability, it has taken years for me to find my inner self. Sometimes, I get lost in knowing what I am capable of because of my condition’s limitations. With that said, though, I always remember where I came from, and who my biggest supporters were.
During freshman year, it took me half a year to adapt to high school life. Sports were an area that I wanted to pursue, but I just did not know how I could be part of a team.
Around this time, broadcasting was easily my number-one forte. I took it upon myself to become the unofficial play-by-play announcer of the freshman A football team. Parents and community members loved hearing me call games, especially the ones who could not attend. The coaches took notice and invited me to join them for pregame ceremonies as an honorary captain.
Even though football was my favorite sport to cover, I wanted to have a deeper role in the program. My desire to achieve this goal led me to take initiative my junior year to take on a new position: social media.
Therefore, in order to make an impact, I had to reach out. Through conversations with coaches and collaborations about ideas, @DGNFBLive was created. Everything from a behind-the-scenes access of practice, to in-game content, was there for anyone to see.
I also took upon a winter sport: basketball. I kept the same concept but wanted to stay busy in the winter time. This position allowed me to prefect my craft, and strive to become better.
I am excited to take on new opportunities in college. Media will continue to grow, and my generation will be at the forefront of it. Oh, and cars are still cool, too.