With jersey tradition, Thorne honors peer relationship

Updated 9/5/2018 9:34 PM
  • Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne poses with junior Annie Miller.

    Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne poses with junior Annie Miller. Courtesy of Pat Adamatis/Naperville Central Adapted P.E.

Embracing a challenged student, Payton Thorne's character speaks loud and clear.

The Naperville Central football team has a weekly tradition in which Redhawks players lend a game jersey to someone important to them to wear on game day.

Last week, for a second straight season, the Western Michigan University-bound, senior quarterback gave his jersey to junior Annie Miller. Thorne is a peer in her Adapted Physical Education class, part of Naperville Central's multi-needs program.

Annie has an "unknown syndrome," said her mother, Paula, though a recognizable feature is that Annie is nonverbal.

"What's so great is that he could probably have asked any young lady at that school," Paula Miller said, "but he asked one who couldn't say thanks."

Not with words.

"She has different looks, I guess you could say. She does make some types of noises," said Thorne, who since meeting her last school year has learned to understand her feelings. "She'll clap her hands sometimes when she's happy. She'll laugh, and sometimes she'll cry."

Raised the right way, last season Thorne first asked Paula Miller if he could lend her daughter his jersey.

"She's awesome to be around, and we've generated as close a relationship as we could in school," Thorne said.

"It's been a good couple of years, especially getting to know more about Annie and her family and her past. It's been really cool."

Executing the jersey handoff on Thursday, Annie wore Thorne's red home jersey on Friday before the Redhawks traveled to Lincoln-Way East. The game was postponed Friday due to stormy weather, but the next day Thorne passed for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns, albeit in a loss to the defending Class 8A champion.

"Not only does he have a great arm," Paula Miller said, "but he has an awesome heart."

Welch's great news

In Naperville North's 5-0 boys soccer victory Tuesday over Waubonsie Valley, senior goalkeeper Tommy Welch recorded his third straight shutout and 33rd overall, tying the program record shared by 1992 graduate Steve Hipp.

The 6-foot-6 Welch, the 2017-18 Illinois Gatorade Illinois boys soccer player of the year with 19 shutouts for a repeat Class 3A champion, also is a basketball star committed to Loyola.

Welch will go for Naperville North's shutouts record Sept. 11 at Neuqua Valley. Two more shutouts will lift Welch into a tie for 20th place in Illinois High School Association history. The state record by a boys keeper is 67.

Drop everything

Pardon the late notice, but the Wheaton High Schools Alumni Club is hosting its 64th reunion Thursday with golf and dinner at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton.

At this point it may be too late to crash the 11 p.m. tee time, but they may be willing if you fork over the $45 fee. Cost for the 7:30 p.m. Alumni Club dinner, with a 6 p.m. social, is $40 plus $20 for Alumni Club expenses.

The docket for the nighttime affair includes inductions into the Alumni Club's Hall of Fame, which encompasses Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville, Wheaton Warrenville South and its two prior incarnations, Wheaton Central and Wheaton Community.

Hall of Fame (student) inductees are real estate magnate Mary Ludgin, Wheaton Central Class of 1973; and former NFL quarterback Mike Taliaferro, Wheaton Community Class of '59. Honorary inductees (teachers, coaches) are Al Duhm and Lyle Morrow, the great former Wheaton Central coaches of soccer and baseball, respectively.

Break up the Bison

Fenton's two-set win over Proviso East to open the Bison's girls volleyball season made coach Kelly Torres the first Fenton girls volleyball coach to reach 50 victories since Laurie Benhart capped a 96-80 record in 1987.

The Bison beat Proviso West in another two-set match on Aug. 29 to improve to 7-0. In between Fenton captured the title of its own Bison Blast-off for the first time in history.

Among those getting it done are Mackenzie Miller, Isa Lozada, Sydney Minard, Ashley Lira, Julia Kaspari, Vicky Krzyszkowski and Agata Kukielko, who had 7 service aces against Proviso East.

A man, and facility, for all seasons

Montini's refurbished Vince Gavin Stadium Club is a fitting tribute to its namesake. It's a great piece of real estate.

The remodeled stadium club at Montini.
The remodeled stadium club at Montini. - Courtesy of the Montini Catholic Flight Club

Dedicated Aug. 31 before the Broncos' season-opening 52-0 win over Hyde Park, the facility overlooking John Duffy Memorial Field features an outdoor deck three times larger than the old one, modern patio furniture and maroon and gold planters above newly landscaped terrain.

Inside are new tables and chairs, wireless internet, three 65-inch televisions (one dedicated to showing all walks of Montini life), heating and air conditioning, windows looking onto the field. It's large enough and nice enough to host alumni events, faculty meetings, networking functions.

Working with Montini President Jim Segredo, the Gavin family even got a golf cart, plus driver, to shuttle elderly fans to and from restrooms.

The Stadium Club can hold around 100 people. On Friday the most important ones were members of the extended Gavin Family itself.

A 17-year member of Montini's board, the late Vince Gavin sent three sons and a daughter -- Mary Eileen, Vince, John and Paul -- through the school. Each of the boys played football; in 1990, John's 2-point conversion catch helped beat Driscoll.

The last game the elder Vince Gavin attended at Montini was the Broncos' 30-26 win over Mt. Carmel on Oct. 14, 2016. Being South Side Irish and a Brother Rice graduate that meant something, but not as much as seeing one of his grandchildren, Caroline, take her first steps that night on the old clubhouse deck.

"My father was not an emotional guy," John Gavin said, "but there was a tear in his eye."

A few weeks later, on Nov. 9, 2016, Vince Gavin passed away at age 74.

Like Clarence the Angel said in the movies, he had a wonderful life, worthy of inclusion in the Chicago History Museum's "The Chicago Politics Oral History Project."

Gavin started out as a beat cop near Maxwell Street. During a traffic-stalling snowstorm early in his tenure he loaned Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley a pair of his own boots and escorted him down the sidewalk to a meeting. Impressed, Daley soon saw to it that Gavin became his director of executive protection responsible for security for Daley and his family. In that role from 1967-75 and staying on with Mayor Michael Bilandic, Gavin's circle included the likes of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson and Sen. Ted Kennedy.

There's more. Heading the Chicago Liquor Commission, Gavin helped clean up Rush Street. With Arthur Rubloff & Co. he developed and managed properties and grew close enough to the "Magnificent Mile" developer to act as an executor of Rubloff's estate after his death in 1986.

As director of security and governmental operations for Navy Pier, Gavin helped oversee its transformation from dilapidated gangway to the Midwest's top tourist attraction.

Following a unanimous vote by the City Council of Chicago, on Nov. 17, 2017, the northeast corner of LaSalle and Kinzie streets in the city's 42nd Ward was dedicated as Vince Gavin Way.

In Lombard stands a second memorial.

"He loved Montini," John Gavin said, "and we just thought doing something like that, a venue where you bring people together, it just fit."

Warm polyester in water

Evanston swim and dive coach Kevin Auger in late August submitted his annual preseason girls swim rankings. His top three teams are defending champion Rosary, Lyons Twp., and Neuqua Valley.

Metea Valley and the Glenbard West-South co-op each make Auger's top eight teams, with Hinsdale Central and Naperville Central at Nos. 18 and 20, respectively.

Auger noted Glenbard senior Molly Rosenthal and sophomore Kate Morris among the top freestyle swimmers, as well as Metea sophomore McKenna Stone.

His picks in the backstroke and individual medley include Neuqua junior Maxine Parkinson, with Hinsdale Central junior Anna Gruvberger in butterfly. Auger lists Neuqua senior Samantha Carlson among the top divers.

Cold steel on ice

For some people hockey season can't get here fast enough. For them there is Crystal Lake South's Gator Cup tournament, Sept. 7-9. Most games will be played at the Leafs Ice Center in West Dundee with a smattering at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.

Teams from Benet, Naperville Central and defending Cup champion Hinsdale Central will compete in the varsity tournament. Lake Park, Hinsdale Central and a "Glenbard" squad will compete in junior varsity games. Overall 50 teams will be playing including usual suspects Loyola, Lake Forest and Fenwick.

For all the myriad schedules, visit www.crystallakesouthhockeyclub.com.


Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.