From Ball Boy to Ball Player
Highland Park Patch's newest columnist detects a pattern with coach Paul Harris' varsity team.
How do you reward a team that won a conference championship in girls basketball for first time since President Ronald Reagan was in the White House?
"We are leaving for Florida on Dec. 27th,'' said Highland Park girls basketball coach Jolie Bechtel. "We will be going to Disney World and all kinds of fun things."
That Giants team – helped out by the likes of Briana Collier, Lena Munzer, Emily Feldman and Lauren Evans – gets a real basketball vacation. The best part is when they step outside in the sunshine state, they most likely won't be freezing.
It's the inaugural Rock Holiday Classic in Windermere, Fla., where The Giants are guaranteed three games. The tourney notes that the games are held a mere 11 miles from Magic Kingdom.
Of course, there will be no sleeping late for these players. The schedule calls for an early morning game against a club from Mandarin, Fla. It tips off at 9 a.m. Of the 16 teams in town, 10 hail from Florida. It seems the Giants are traveling the furthest to this tourney.
The Giants are 7-4 and unbeaten in four league games so far. The club welcomed back the athletic Collier to the lineup following an injury. She had 9 points in the 55-30 romp over Glenbrook North on Dec. 17. The speedy Feldman led the team with 15 points. Talented sophomore Munzer added 13 points. Finally, defensive whiz Evans tallied 7 points.
Young boys basketball players please take note: If you dream of playing varsity basketball at Highland Park High School, you might first want to take the basketball internship offered by coach Paul Harris. OK, it's not an official program, but it sure seems a number of HP hoops players were first ball boys for the program when they were starting out.
Looking back, Harris observed recently that he had players named Adam Katlin in 2003 and Chase Stern in 2004. During those days, Harris also had a pair of ball boys helping out. They went by the names of Cole Stern and Josh Katlin.
Those two former ball boys learned lessons well from their older brothers; they're both on Harris' team this year.
"It's hard to believe how fast the time has gone,'' Harris said.
But wait, there are more family connections on this year's Giants team. Another 2004 player, Brian Deutsch, left a pair of younger brothers to carry on: Brad Deutsch, who played in 2008, and present player Justin Deutsch.
There is another Deutsch on the HP team, though he's not related to Justin; senior Robbie Deutsch is the son of assistant coach Ross Deutsch. Adding to Harris' memories, and furthering the ball boy/internship program conspiracy, Robbie Deutsch also took a turn as an HP ball boy.
The Giants are 4-5 after running into CSL powerhouse Glenbrook North on Dec. 17. HP still played stellar defense but fell 40-27.