Moeaki made the most of his time at WW South

 
 
Updated 10/11/2018 10:30 AM
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  • Tony Moeaki won a state title at WW South and played in a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks.

    Tony Moeaki won a state title at WW South and played in a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. Daily Herald File Photo

  • Wheaton Warrenville South's Keilani Moeaki went on to play basketball at Brigham Young University.

    Wheaton Warrenville South's Keilani Moeaki went on to play basketball at Brigham Young University. Daily Herald File Photo

Tony Moeaki was more thrilled seeing his sister Keilani inducted into the Wheaton Warrenville South Athletic Hall of Fame than he was by his own induction.

"She's my favorite athlete," said the former National Football League tight end.

Tony Moeaki, 31, is now "living the retired life" in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood and helping run the Kid's Dream Big Foundation, an organization to benefit children he started with Kansas City Chiefs teammate Steve Maneri and two other men.

The Moeakis -- former basketball star Keilani is now Keilani Moeaki Unga, a mother of four married to Harvey Unga, whom she met while both were athletes at Brigham Young University -- were among six new inductees to the hall on Friday.

The 10th annual ceremony also honored that long-limbed WW South track star and Notre Dame All-American, Randall Babb; three-year University of Michigan football letter winner Tony Kee; Ken Kilian, a 1994 draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers; and gymnastics specialist Penny Perkins, who coached more than 100 athletic seasons at Wheaton Central and WW South between 1989-2005.

Tony Moeaki graduated the same year Perkins retired. Reaching the Class 8A football semifinals his senior season of 2004, his Tigers teammates included college recruits Chris Arthurs, Grant Nemeth, Dace Richardson (who joined Moeaki at Iowa), Matt Stevens and sophomore Dan Dierking, who helped win the 8A title in 2006.

"I have four older brothers and sisters that were athletes at South, so I grew up around the program. I probably knew coach (Ron) Muhitch since I was in elementary school, and as high school got closer and closer I felt the excitement, and it was almost like I was raised to play football and basketball at South," Moeaki said.

"I made the most of it as I could. I just had a fun career, had a great time, got to play in a lot of big games nationally, got to play with a lot of great players. I played for hall of fame coaches, played with and against future NFL hall of famers. It was a blessing."

The 93rd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Moeaki had his best seasons in 2010 and 2012 with Kansas City, starting 29 of the 30 games he played in and catching 80 passes for 1,009 yards and 4 touchdowns.

He also played for Buffalo, Seattle and Atlanta, and though he signed a contract with the Bears in 2016 he didn't play with them. With Seattle he played in the 2015 Super Bowl, losing 28-24 to New England.

Injuries took their toll. As the veterans had told Moeaki about encroaching retirement, "You know when you know, and literally one morning I woke up and there it was," he said.

And there he was last week, accepting the induction and praising WW South "for what they did for me and my family."

<URL destination="#photo2">Including Keilani.

</URL>"She was just as deserving as any athlete that came through South," Moeaki said. "It was more fun for me to see her get inducted last weekend. I really enjoyed that."

Score!

US Lacrosse has a national all-academic team. The 2018 version includes current Montini senior midfielder Johanna Kingsfield and Hinsdale Central senior midfielder Kristiana Strtak.

It also noted a pair of 2018 graduates, Naperville North midfielder Lauren Platou and Hinsdale Central attack Lally Johnson. Last winter Johnson committed to play for the University of Chicago's inaugural intercollegiate squad in the spring of 2019.

Courting FUN

As a student at Naperville Central, Alyssa Girgis wasn't just a member of the girls tennis team that won the 2008 DuPage Valley Conference title. She also was a peer leader in Adapted physical education her junior and senior years.

Her first year as Redhawks girls tennis coach paired these passions. While leading Naperville Central to third place in the DVC this fall, Girgis set up Friday homecourt sessions in September with the children from Gigi's Playhouse Down syndrome Achievement Center in Aurora.

Naperville Central girls tennis players are joined by members of the school's Friends United at Naperville Central club.
Naperville Central girls tennis players are joined by members of the school's Friends United at Naperville Central club. - Photo courtesy of Alyssa Girgis

As well, the past two Tuesdays the team has welcomed members of the school's FUN (Friends United at Naperville Central) Club to join them on the court.

"That definitely sparked the idea," Girgis said of her background, "but we have the Adapted kids involved in as many things as possible in high school, so I thought it'd be important for them to come out and have our tennis team teach them tennis skills in the afternoon, just give them an avenue to be more social and involved with the kids."

Pat Adamatis, the retiring head of Naperville Central's Adapted P.E. program and FUN Club, was impressed.

"Those interactions come not from us reaching out but from others reaching in," she said.

It's not only high school students who are invited. Adamatis said students who've aged out of the high school Connections program also participated.

"It's helping them stay connected with the community," Adamatis said.

As Naperville Central's No. 1 singles player, entering Saturday's Class 2A Naperville North sectional Redhawks senior Nina Raab could be excused for having bigger things on her mind.

But while Raab doesn't know her singles record, she does know this is important stuff. Precedent-setting, even, for Redhawks tennis players.

"It's gaining awareness for everyone," said Raab, a J. Kyle Braid scholar, Adapted P.E. peer and team captain.

"I think our school does a really good job of doing that. So for incoming freshmen and sophomores it's really important to do that. We have such a great tennis program to share that with kids who may not be able to get involved in the same way."

A fourth-year science teacher at Naperville North and like Raab a JKB scholar when she was in high school, Girgis hopes to continue this "brand new tradition" next year provided Adamatis' successor approves.

"Hopefully someone very passionate takes over for her," Girgis said.

Because doing this work takes a special kind of person. But the rewards are incredible.

"Nothing tangible," Raab said, "can give you that same gratification."

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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