Farewell, Amen to Mount Assisi

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Updated: 3:55 p.m. 2/21/14

Seeing any school close is a sad affair.

It’s hard to keep from being emotional, which you can easily see with the rash of closings in the Chicago Public Schools. The last suburban Catholic school I can recall closing was Driscoll in Addison.

It looks like Mount Assisi is the next to go based on last month’s headlines in the SouthtownStar and ABC-7 news. Declining enrollment, the probable cause. Other Catholic schools have gone co-ed to survive, such as Fenwick and St. Joseph, but Assisi has remained all-girls. The IHSA.org website’s home page lists its enrollment as 310 girls, 511.5 by the IHSA’s multiplier.

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A Facebook page has been created to drum up support for Mount Assisi. The school’s trophy case is not filled with state titles. The IHSA.org’s website lists only sectional volleyball titles for the school in 1988 for Class AA and 2004-05 in Class A.

After hearing about the school’s planned closing, I reached out to former sportswriting colleague Chris Traczek about his daughters’ experience playing volleyball for Mount Assisi. Erin (pictured right) and Cara Traczek did not complete their careers there. The sisters eventually transferred to Aurora Central.

Chris’ wife, Ann, provided her thoughts on Mount Assisi:

It was with heavy hearts that we learned of the impending closure of Mt. Assist Academy, though we can’t say we were surprised at the news. Our daughters, Erin and Cara, attended Mt. Assisi from 2007-09 before transferring to Aurora Central Catholic, in large part because we could never escape the feeling that the school was about to close its doors for good. The fact that it remained open for another five years after Erin and Cara left is a tribute to the commitment of the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, as well as the entire faculty and staff. During their time at MAA, both girls were involved in the volleyball, basketball and track-and-field programs. Despite traditionally being one of the smallest schools in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC), it always seemed that MAA was competitive in all sports, especially volleyball, where it was annually placed in the GCAC’s top division and more often than not held its own against perennial powers like Mother McAuley. The credit for that goes to longtime Athletic Director June VerSchave, while coaches Mark Murphy, Brad Reynard, Karen VanAssen and Frances Smith were all important parts of our girls’ lives during their time at the school. Erin even went on to play two years of intercollegiate volleyball at Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa. In the end, we will look back on their time at MAA as one that helped form their current personalities and laid a foundation for success that is continuing to blossom in college. For that we will be eternally grateful for The School on the Hill.

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