Random Thoughts

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The hardest working man in high school sports isn’t a coach or a player. Sometimes it’s the team manager.

Watching Aaron Wurtzel (above) work, will make your head spin. He’s a constant ball of energy on the football field, the basketball bench or the lacrosse field. During the football season, Wurtzel is the ball boy, sprinting on and off the field in his borrowed football jersey making sure the officials have the right ball for the right team. Wurtzel is more subdued during basketball season, but is present at every practice and game for Glenbrook North’s boys basketball team. If he’s not on the bench, he’s videotaping games.

When coach David Weber is ready for a new drill, Wurtzel barks out questions to Weber whether he needs the clock set, ball rack or anything else to make his job easier.

There are not many three-sport athletes around. Wurtzel, a junior, is perhaps a dying bread as the three-sport team manager.

“It’s just another way to be around the team. I started in middle school (at Maple). I asked the coach if he needed any help,” said Wurtzel, who actually played basketball for his seventh grade team, but otherwise has been a manager for the rest of his five-year career.

At GBN, he’s been the manager for football two years, basketball three years and will enter his third year as the boys lacrosse manager in the spring.

“When I get free time, I’m usually studying,” Wurtzel said. He catches up with homework during a free period in the school day.

• • •

I asked Glenbrook North senior swimmer Carolyn Bernhardt (left) if she competes in any other sports. Her response?

“I’m bad at everything on land.”

• • •

Glenbrook North’s highly ranked boys basketball team, led by Notre Dame-bound Alex Dragicevich and Austin Weber, is going on the road this season for a pair of important games.

Austin Weber will get to play in the same arena where his uncle Bruce coaches in when the Spartans play in the Deron Williams Shootout Dec. 12 at Assembly Hall in Champaign.

THE SCHEDULE

Champaign Central vs. Rich South, 11 a.m.

Glenbrook North vs. Peoria Notre Dame, 12:45 p.m.

Peoria Manual vs. Bowman (Ind.), 2:30 p.m.

Peoria vs. Mount Carmel, 4:15 p.m.

Rock Island vs. Robinson, 6 p.m.

Champaign Centennial vs. Waukegan, 7:45 p.m.

Brehm vs. Quality Education (N.C.), 9:30 p.m.

Next stop for GBN is Saint Louis University’s new arena for the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout Jan. 16.

THE SCHEDULE

Lindbergh (Mo.) vs. Fox (Mo.), 10 a.m.

MICDS (Mo.) vs Belleville Althoff, 11:30 a.m.

Ramsey (Ala.) vs. Webster Groves (Mo.), 1 p.m.

St. Charles West (Mo.) vs. Edwardsville, 3 p.m.

Glenbrook North vs. SLU High, 4:30 p.m.

Breese Central vs. McCluer (Mo.), 6 p.m.

Hazelwood Central (Mo.) vs. Memphis Melrose, 7:30 p.m.

• • •

Things change. It’s a title to a wonderful David Mamet movie, but it also sums up one’s direction in life. Just when you are headed in one direction — things change.

Former Sun-Times stringer Scott Powers was covering basketball and the usual smattering of spring sports earlier this year when ESPNChicago.com appeared. Powers (right) now covers prep sports for the new Web powerhouse, but one of his pet projects, the email newsletter and Web site known as illhoops.com has been placed on hiatus.

In Powers’ own words:

I recently took a full-time position with ESPN and will be leading ESPNChicago.com’s high school and college sports coverage. After considering the work load needed for the position among a number of other factors, I’ve decided to suspend publishing Ill. Hoops for the time being. I don’t believe right now I can provide the quantity and quality of coverage of the state’s basketball scene my subscribers deserve. My plan is to restart Ill. Hoops sometime in the future, but there is no specific date.

I will be covering basketball throughout the Chicago area and hopefully other parts of the state for ESPNChicago.com. If you ever have any story ideas, please send them to me at this e-mail or at spowers@espnchicago.com.

For anyone who recently subscribed to Ill. Hoops, please contact me for a refund if needed. The Web site will remain running, allowing for past issues and the message board to continue to be accessed.

I would like to thank everyone personally for their support of Ill. Hoops. It was a vision of mine five years ago and became a reality thanks to you. After a 114 issues, I can truthfully say it’s been a memorable time. Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Scott Powers

Ill. Hoops

• • •

Every year every conference across Chicagoland names its all-conference selections and it seems like every year the selections become more and more baffling. In the MSL, politics gets involved every year and it seems like coaches regularly can’t choose between one player or another, so they have co-players of the year all the time.

In the CSL South, coaches named Waukegan’s Katie O’Connor as their player of the year apparently overlooking the two best players in the conference: Glenbrook South’s Ellen Chapman and Evanston’s Ali Gossen. The Wisconsin-bound Chapman, a 6-4 outside hitter, is the best junior in the state and the only junior in the Chicago Sun-Times’ All-Area First-Team selections. Gossen is a right-side hitting senior headed to Western Michigan.

Could that be the factor? That Chapman (left) is a junior and O’Connor is a senior? Then, why not select Gossen. Often, coaches select seniors over more deserving juniors and sophomores. What’s the purpose of selecting all-conference teams if the best players are not selected?

For the record, the all-CSL choices were:

NORTH DIVISION

Glenbrook North: Christine Schultz, Kelly Bedford, Libby Winter, Lexi Assimos, Jenny Huh; Deerfield: Taylor Stanfel (player of the year), Kelly Tedeschi, Melanie Kuczek; Niles North: Angie Walinski, Uzo Ukaegbu; Maine West: Angie Topolewicz; Highland Park: Alice Rhoades.

SOUTH DIVISION

Glenbrook South: Colleen Brennan, Ellen Chapman, Elise Cregg, Emani Sims; Evanston: Ali Gossen, Megan McCareins, Maddie FitzPatrick; Waukegan: Katie O’Connor, Sarah Angelos, Amy Angelos; New Trier: Amy Hart; Niles West: Kelly Kleppin.

• • •

It’s a shame Wheaton North and Glenbard South lost in the quarterfinals of the state football playoffs. Both public high schools from neighboring Wheaton and Glen Ellyn made it the state quarterfinals. Throw in Montini from Lombard and you have three teams alive from central DuPage.

A perfect scenario next week would be a Class 7A state championship between top-seeded Glenbard West and second-seeded Wheaton South. The two teams used to open the season against each other all the time until that rivalry ended a few years ago. Besides, players from each side have played against each other for years. The dominant youth football programs in each town are the Wheaton Rams and the Glen Ellyn Golden Eagles.

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