At some point during last season, Jeremy Schoenecker invited Egan Berne and Carly Callans into his office for a talk.
The Loyola girls basketball coach said he needed to let the two varsity rookies know how much he appreciated their hard work and patience. Even though Berne and Callans — then juniors — didn’t play many minutes, Schoenecker said their contributions made the Ramblers a better team. One that went on to finish 26-9 and fourth in Class 4A.
“I wanted them to know what they were doing would pay off,” Schoenecker said of the classmates from Evanston’s St. Athanasius. “Before I could finish, they both told me not to worry about it. They understood the other players deserved the time, and that they were preparing themselves for their senior years.
“That’s not something you find too much from kids these days.”
By the end of this season, Berne and Callans both were regular starters for the GCAC Red co-champion Ramblers, who ended their season with a 42-33 loss to New Trier in the Class 4A regional final at Mather and finished 21-9.
“We knew how good our team was last year, and we were willing to do whatever was best for the team,” said Callans, a three-sport athlete who lives in Wilmette. “We still were part of the team, and it was a ton of fun. We figured good things would come out of it, and they did.
“Our time came this year.”
An undersized forward at 5-foot-9, Berne started from the outset, while Callans, a guard, earned her starting spot Dec. 22 against Waukegan.
“I worked so hard for that opportunity,” Callans said. “It was really rewarding.”
Callans was one of Loyola’s best shooters, a third scoring option from the guard position behind senior Anna Schueler and junior Maggie Nick.
Meanwhile, Berne, who lives in Evanston, was willing to embrace the unheralded tasks. Schoenecker called her the “heart and soul” of the Ramblers.
“She did all that dirty work,” the coach said. “She took charges, guarded the other’s best post player, boxed out. If we didn’t have Egan on the court, we would have been an average team.”
Berne said she recognized her strengths on the court and did her best to exploit them.
“I’m not a great shooter or incredibly fast,” she said. “I just found other things to be really good at to help us win, and that was satisfying enough for me.
“If I could make a hustle play and kick the ball out to someone else for a shot, I was happy with that.”
Now that basketball is over, Callans will join the softball team, while Berne will hook up with the crew club. In fact, Berne will row in college at North Carolina.
“I did a rowing camp the summer before my freshman year at Loyola, and I really fell in love with the sport,” said Berne, who, like Callans, played basketball all four years in high school. “It’s something that was unusual, but it was something that I thought could be singular to my identity, to help me stand out a bit.”