Joliet West signing ceremony features mix of serious, fun

SHARE Joliet West signing ceremony features mix of serious, fun

Most area high schools these days stage college National Letter of Intent signing ceremonies to honor their senior athletes who have decided where they will continue their athletic careers.

Seldom will you see any more fun, however, than the bash Joliet West athletic director Steve Millsaps directed Tuesday night in the school auditorium.

Millsaps, the master of ceremonies, donned his gold sport coat for the occasion. Baseball coach John Karczewski joked it looked like Millsaps was ready to host a game show.

While parents, siblings, grandparents, teammates and other friends got the opportunity to hear the accomplishments of the 15 athletes stretched across the stage, there was plenty of room for fun to go with the serious.

Those honored included:

Boys basketball: Brandon McCullum (Marian University), Morris Dunnigan (Vincennes); cross country: Jake Godlweski (St. Ambrose); football: Kameron Hargrove (St. Ambrose), Diondrey Hood (North Central), Justin Jackson (Lindenwood), Korey Rogers (Robert Morris); bowling: Angela Palomar (Robert Morris); tennis: Caitlin Shea (Carlton); golf: Devyn Boswell (Robert Morris); softball: Katie McKay (Benedictine); baseball: Quinn Ahern (Northern Iowa Area CC), Jake Herron (John A. Logan), Steve Kotrba (Aurora); Alex Wesner (Aurora).

Veteran tennis coach Kit Gillman was in a zone. The more he talked about Shea, the more he worked himself into a fervor. She was his No. 1 singles player for four years, and he said everyone who did not come out to see her play missed out.

The best part, though, may have been her parents. “They always brought food,” Gillman said. “My team was the best-fed team for four years.”

Dunnigan was thinking food as well. He said he chose Vincennes because of the basketball team and because “they have a good cafeteria.”

Basketball coach Luke Yaklich emphasized how Dunnigan and McCullum matured in multiple areas during high school, not the least of which was in the classroom. Kids often need four years to reach their potential.

Godlewski learned well. He said he chose St. Ambrose, in part, “because my sister goes there already. So there’s someone I can count on if I need something — like money.”

Hargrove, whom Aubry said has untapped potential, cited his appearance. “That bow tie really looks nice,” Aubry said.

“When coaches get calls from colleges, they want it to be easy. You don’t want to have to make up stuff. With Kameron, it was easy to talk about his untapped potential.”

Hood, the master of discipline from his outside linebacker slot, was an Academic All-State selection. “That’s a phenomenal thing,” Aubry said.

When the Lindenwood coach called and said he was looking for a defensive end, Aubry responded, “Have I got the guy for you.”

He was referring to Jackson, whom he said, “will be great at the next level.”

Aubry said Jackson had an amazing game against Lincoln-Way East and All-State quarterback Tom Fuessel.

Aubry’s final subject, Rogers, likes to talk.

“As a freshman, he would not shut up,” Aubry said. “Now he is even more high-strung. I knew who Korey Rogers was, and he never let me forget it.”

Softball coach Heather Suca detailed McKay’s accomplishments as a pitcher and first baseman and added, “What impressed me most was her leadership.”

What impressed McKay? “I never had a friend of teammate that did not call my mom, ‘mom.’ ”

Karczewski said Ahern, a pitcher, is interesting in the way he shows no emotion regardless.

Herron, the staff ace, “is the three-sport athlete in the school (even though he doesn’t play three),” Karczewski said. “If you don’t think so, just ask him.”

Kotrba, who the coach said is the Tigers’ glue, burned a nonproductive bat and put the ashes on Wesner’s seat on the team bus. Wesner hit homers his first two at-bats the next game, then laid down a bunt single.

“The bunt was my favorite part,” Karczewski said.

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