Feature sponsored by: Hawk Chevrolet of Joliet, 2001 W. Jefferson St., Joliet. 815-214-9907. Looking to sponsor a great local student athlete? Email Brian Gallagher for details! 

By Bob Narang

Bailey Pubentz started her soccer career with a little push from a person who had never even played the sport.

At the time, unbeknownst to Pubentz, her dad signed her up for soccer at the local park district.

“It’s funny because no one in my family played soccer,” said Pubentz, a senior at Joliet West. “My dad came home one day when I was four or five years old and told me, ‘I signed you up for soccer.’”

And the rest is history for the 5-foot-5 defender, who is set to start her fourth season on the varsity this spring.

“We only lost four seniors from last season, so we will have a lot of the same team back this year,” Pubentz said. “The other captains and I have done a good job keeping the team together as a family to ensure we’re ready for the season. I want to have a good senior season.”

Joining Pubentz as a four-year letterman are seniors Katie Meagher and Miate Bernal. During their careers, the program has improved its win total little by little while also increasing its strength of schedule.

“I remember when all three of us were on the varsity as freshmen,” Pubentz said. “I was terrified, and they would probably say the same.

“But it’s cool to see how we’ve all grown through the years and gained confidence. Our last two years were pretty successful, especially compared to my freshman season when we only won five games. One of our goals this spring is to make this season super memorable.”

With only a handful of games remaining in her high school career, the two-year captain said one of her fondest memories will be the friendships created.

“Being able to create a bond with the other captains on my team is special,” Pubentz said. “We’ve grown together and those bonds are going to last a lifetime.”

Michael O’Shea, who coached Pubentz her first three seasons before resigning at the end of the 2019 campaign, will always remember Pubentz as an aggressive player on the pitch with an team-first attitude.

“Bailey is an exceptional outside back, who also will get involved in attacking overlap runs to the outside,” O’Shea said. “She never worries about taking on the opposing team’s best players.

“Bailey fights for her teammates and refuses to give in. She’s an amazing leader and an even better person.”

Bio on reporter: Bob Narang has been covering prep recruiting and sports for the past 24 years. His work also appears in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Athlon Sports and the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.