CornerKICKS – Joe Trost, columnist
Sixteen months ago, Lee Moore and I stood side by side in his Park Ridge driveway around 9 p.m. on a cold Wednesday night loading Christmas toys into an already packed U-Haul.
He laughed as we tried to rearranged the toys in the truck, which came from countless boys and girls soccer players from all over the Chicagoland area. We needed to create enough room to fit 100s of additional toys his daughter, Angelina, had collected, which filled their front room.
It was a proud moment for the dad of four, knowing that his daughter and family were playing a key role in helping bring joy to children from low-income families during the holiday season.
Two days later, those toys were a part of a surprise delivery by Angelina, her sister Julianna and nearly 100 boys and girls soccer players from different high schools to Chance The Rapper LIVE on the WGN Morning News.
I thought about all of that this past Wednesday night around 9 p.m., realizing that Lee’s family – led by his mother Geraldine and wife PaulaMarie – had just finished hosting a wake for the 58-year-old son, husband and father. He passed last weekend after a long battle with multiple myeloma – also known as cancer.
Just like the game of soccer can be at times, life isn’t always fair. There are memorable moments and tough ones. Lee’s time may have been cut short, but his impact will last for decades to come.
Before sitting down to write this week’s column, I rewatched a clip from ABC featuring Angelina, who starred on the field at Maine South and is now attending DePaul University.
It aired a week after Lee and I stood together, and he told me how proud he was of his daughter’s effort. Take a second to watch and listen to Angelina’s words: Click HERE.
There’s no doubt listening and seeing Angelina made Lee smile the night that aired, feeling very proud of her and his entire family. And there’s no question he’ll continue to smile and feel very proud time and time again looking down from high above.
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT: It’s been an up-and-down season for Downers North, which advanced to the Class 3A Final Four and Elite Eight the past two seasons.
The Trojans, however, made some adjustments midway through the season and started to figure things out over the past 10 days. They’re unbeaten in their last five, with wins over Wheaton South, Hinsdale Central and Wheaton Academy.
But they got a scare when Florida State-bound Mia Marconi took an elbow to the eye against Plainfield North last weekend. The senior spent the Saturday before Easter in the emergency room and feared there could be long-term damage.
“It’s so crazy how this happened,” Marconi said on Tuesday. “This is the first day I have been able to open my eye, so that’s exciting.
“The pain is subsiding as well. It’s all so unfortunate, but the surgeon said I could possibly be back this season. I’ll just keep praying.”
THERE’S NO INSTRUCTION (WINK, WINK): Area girls soccer players will flock to club tryouts next weekend.
And when they do, there’s a debate brewing as to whether this is legal per Illinois High School Association by-laws. Many believe it is, because there is “no instruction” (wink, wink), while others note players are not allowed to take part in any club action until the conclusion of their high school season.
Grab your popcorn and pull up a chair. This could get really interesting over the next week.
CHOO CHOO, ALL ABOARD: Last week you read here that it’s been more than 6,000 days since Brad Guzan played his last game for Providence. (And for the record, the game prior to that last one is still one of the most unbelievable games in IHSA history, when Guzan went from playing midfield the entire game to goalie in the shootout and was an utter brickwall.)
Since his last game at the Class A program at the time, Guzan has gone on to star at the University of South Carolina; in the Premier League; for the U.S. Men’s National Team; and last year he became a MLS Champion goalie for Atlanta United.
But still today – a mere 144,528 hours since his last high school game – Providence has yet to enter the school’s most decorated student athlete and the state’s best soccer player ever into its Hall of Fame. And if I’m correct, he will become the school’s first and only soccer player in the Hall of Fame.
It’s been 16 years since his parents last wrote a tuition check to the New Lenox school, which has had no problem reaching out to the superstar asking for uniform donations from Nike and other items over the years.
So what’s the delay? A few years ago, the school mentioned it had a specific waiting period for Hall of Fame inductees. Then more recently, it was the fact that Guzan was playing during the Hall of Fame induction.
Really? You can’t adjust a high school Hall of Fame event for one of the most successful soccer players in U.S. history?
Luckily for Providence, I have connections and was able to secure their leadership team a group ticket on the common-sense train. It arrives daily, and here’s to hoping they catch a ride on it sooner rather than later.
Adjust the Hall of Fame induction to the soccer offseason, which is the same period EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR now that Guzan is back from Europe and playing in the MLS. These high school Hall of Fame inductions are all about marketing to begin with, so why wouldn’t a school – especially a private school that needs all the marketing in the world – not go out of its way to induct an athletic superstar alum during his or her playing days.
You’ll then be able to attract the attention of current, future and past alum with social media posts, media coverage, etc.
It’s time to do what’s right for Brad, his wife Bre (another Providence alum) and his parents.
STRONG PLAYER, STRONGER PERSON IN GAME OF LIFE: Stagg goalie Sydney Downs, who will play at Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall, received the Cheryl Kaim Courage-Strength-Heart Award during the program’s annual Red Card Cancer Game against Sandburg.
The award is named after former Stagg player and current coach Allison Kaim’s mother, who battled cancer for two years before passing away in Sept. 2011.
“My family attends this game each year and afterwards they discuss which player from both teams displayed the characteristics of courage, strength and heart,” Allison said.
CornerKICKS will appear on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at email@example.com.
Bio on columnist: Joe Trost was an award-winning writer at Star Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com. Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year and founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S.