DuPage County Male Athlete of the Year: Willowbrook's Sam Tumilty
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is presenting our 2019-20 high school athletes of the year. We continue today with the DuPage County Male Athlete of the Year, Willowbrook's Sam Tumilty.
Of all the regrets about not coaching Willowbrook's baseball team this spring, one stands out for Vic Wisner.
"I just wish I could have coached Sam one more time," he said.
You can't blame him.
Coach after coach refers to Warriors senior Sam Tumilty as a once-in-a-generation prep athlete. Supreme talent in three sports is an obvious reason, but so is the top-five class ranking academically and character that shines through in multiple ways.
How many teenagers, for example, write thank-you notes?
Not just to coaches and teammates but to coaches' spouses, ball boys ... dozens of personalized cards appreciative of the role each recipient played in helping him garner the many accolades he collected the last three years as a varsity football, basketball and baseball player.
On top of all of it, Tumilty is the Daily Herald DuPage County Male Athlete of the Year for 2019-2020.
"I just tried to make the most of my time at Willowbrook," Tumilty said. "It definitely goes by fast. You look forward to every day playing on those teams. I'll miss it."
Tumilty was the Daily Herald DuPage County Red Grange Football Captain in the fall after capping a varsity run that started with a call-up as a freshman. This season he was equally stunning at quarterback and in the secondary, to the point where he could have been an all-state selection on either side of the ball.
Behind center he threw for 2,525 yards and rushed for 1,551 while accounting for 42 total touchdowns. Tumilty led the defense with 107 tackles and snared 3 interceptions.
The combination carried the Warriors to the Class 7A state semifinals, their first final four appearance since 1975. In Tumilty's three years as a starter the Warriors went 32-5 with three straight West Suburban Gold Conference titles and seven playoff wins as he amassed 5,100 passing yards and 2,859 rushing yards.
"You don't even begin trying to replace someone like him," said Willowbrook football coach Nick Hildreth. "What he brings as one affecting the other 10 on the field, you just don't see that. I'm just honored that I got to be a part of it."
Tumilty didn't skip a beat in basketball despite missing the entire preseason while he wrapped up football, In what might be his third-best sport, he earned all-Gold honors in the winter by averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and knocking down 45 3-pointers.
This spring's baseball campaign was supposed to be Tumilty's ninth full varsity season but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled his finale.
An outfielder his first two varsity seasons, Tumilty was ready to fill a team need by playing catcher this year. When that wasn't necessary, he was poised to step in at either shortstop or third base.
The versatility he showed in football was about to be displayed on the baseball diamond.
"Not being able to have a baseball season is tough but I'm ready to move on to the next step," he said. "It's just something you can't control."
The next step is a family tradition as Tumilty heads to Augustana College to play football and baseball with his older brother Scott. Their dad, Scott, is in the athletic hall of fame at Augustana and their mother, Katie, ran cross country there.
As much as Willowbrook became a second home for Sam Tumilty, Augustana isn't far behind in terms of familiarity.
"I'm happy with what I was able to accomplish at Willowbrook but it's time to move on," he said. "Augustana is a great fit."