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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Practice Player in the Big City

We have been very fortunate to have some good guys help us out through the years as practice players. Their added size and quickness can challenge the girls to improve their skills. And they can often prepare us for an opponent by simulating things our opponents may do.

Coach Peachey used to be in charge of recruiting our practice players. He would always joke he was doing background checks on the players to make sure we got just the right guys. We always want to make sure we get guys who are reliable showing up when we want them, and who can keep their egos in check. We want them to have fun, get a good workout, but to realize it is not about them- practice is all about the girls getting better.

Two of our first practice players were Coach Allison’s brother and Coach Hickey when they were GHS students. They did a great job for us. Reed Allison definitely was and is a competitive individual. Sara Wood was on the team, and just as competitive as Reed. Reed was a large offensive lineman who had the finesse of an offense lineman. One practice, Reed got a breakaway with only Sara back on defense. Sara mistakenly thought it was a good idea to try to draw a charge. After we picked up the pieces, we cut Reed’s participation back.

Daniel Junk along with brother Luke was a practice player for us the last two years. Daniel fit in being a practice player around his full-time jobs as an offensive lineman for the Streaks, and as weightman for the track team. Daniel was always willing to do whatever we needed in drills and in scrimmages. And he never tried to knock anyone over on a breakaway.

In addition to being our practice player, last summer he was a ref in our summer league. He is in his freshmen year at DePaul University. And now although he is no longer eligible to be a practice player, he has a role with our team as personal coach to younger sister, Emma. And hopefully basketball mentor to youngest sister, Ellen.

Your parents grew up in small towns, you grew up in a small town- how do you end up in Chicago going to school?
I was immediately attracted to DePaul University because of its career opportunities. I want to be a sports reporter someday and DePaul has a respected journalism school with many connections and internship opportunities in Chicago. The big city was also very intriguing with all the diversity of the people and their cultures.

Your orientation program at DePaul for becoming familiar with the city sounded interesting. Could you describe the program?
Every freshman student at DePaul has to take a "Chicago Quarter" class that is designed to get the new students more familiar with Chicago. There are a variety of topics available, including the famous Chicago Cubs class! These classes go on excursions throughout the term as field trips where the city and its resources are used as a backdrop for the special learning experience. In my class I traveled to different ethnic and geographic neighborhoods including Pilsen, Chinatown, Rogers Park, Uptown, Bronzeville, Hyde Park and many other places. As a result I am much more comfortable maneuvering in the city.
I won’t comment on what I think is involved in the “famous Chicago Cubs class.”

You were active in sports in high school and now you are not in sports. What do you miss the most about not being in sports? What do you not miss?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss putting the pads on for a home game on a Friday night in the fall. That Kenny Chesney song cannot be more true!

What is your "sports" outlet now in college?
Well I've taken up jogging as a new hobby since graduation from GHS. I also play pick-up basketball at the gym on campus a couple nights a week to stay active.

What was the best class you had in high school?
This is a tough one. I have to put Mr. Hart's "Dodgeball Friday" P.E. class my junior year up on top because it was a great time. Other finalists would be AP Calc, and World History.

You helped us as a practice player your last two years. How was that?
It was great! Even though my basketball career was over after sophomore year it is still probably my favorite sport. Playing with the girls was a lot of fun and last year, the first year of "the system," it always proved to be a good workout playing the full court games.

Would it have worked for you to have been a practice player and go against sister Emma?
Yes. I've never actually went head to head with Emma in basketball so I think the match up would be fun and interesting.
I can’t wait to ask Emma her thoughts on this.

After you watch Emma play, are you the brother of encouragement or the brother with criticism?
I like to be the brother with encouragement and some constructive criticism. I stopped trying to coach Emma up since she is playing a higher level of basketball than I ever did.

Family horse championship- Mom, Dad, all the siblings- who wins and where do you place?
I have a mean jumper from the left elbow! I say I take top 3 though, since Luke and Emma can exploit my weakness with the 3-ball. If their shots are falling I haven't got a chance since I'm pretty bad from behind the arc.
Not sure but I think Daniel isn’t showing his mom, dad, or Ellen much basketball respect. I have seen Daniel shoot, he may be overconfident!

Daniel is a great guy and it was fun to have him involved in the basketball program. 

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