Disabato: Chicago Christian senior class a cut above031510/Palos Heights, Chicago Christian starting pitcher Trent Overzet in action Monday afternoon against Bloom Township. av031510 TIN_chibloom_P1/sports folder Photo By: Art Vassy/SouthtownStar
Updated: July 27, 2012 6:04AM
Thousands of athletes complete the four-year journey of playing high school sports every year.
Most strive for greatness, few achieve it.
Greatness, however, can be defined in many ways.
Winning a state championship, be it individually or as a team, is the true definition of greatness.
But what about a senior class that walks away from its high school career as the winningest in the program’s history? No state title. Heck, not even a sectional championship.
Can the class still be considered great?
Chicago Christian baseball team’s senior class registered a four-year mark of 104-46, exactly 19 more victories than any other class piled up during its career.
A historic run, for sure. And, yes, greatness.
The Class of 2012 left an undeniable mark, winning at least 20 games four straight seasons, the first time that’s been achieved in the program’s history.
“They’re a very special group of kids,” Chicago Christian coach Eric Brauer said. “We won 30 games last year and lost six starters. But we won 26 games this year. The seniors deserve the bulk of the credit for that.”
The 2012 senior class was composed of just four kids: Michael Kamp, Trent Overzet, Jon Lemmenes and Jon Arvin.
Please resist the temptation to confuse quantity with quality.
Kamp, Overzet and Lemmenes were four-year starters, Arvin a two-year regular.
“It’s a lot different than just trying to replace four starters with this group,” Brauer said. “There’s a lot of varsity experience there. You don’t replace these guys.”
It’s unlikely another athlete the stature of Kamp, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and ridiculously skilled, ever will walk the halls of Chicago Christian.
Brauer has referred to the two-time SouthtownStar All-Area selection as a “freak athlete.” Kamp led the team this season in runs (55) and RBI (45) — as its leadoff hitter.
He also hit .480 and stole 28 bases. He set 21 school records.
Any way you slice it, that’s greatness.
Kamp was no slouch on the basketball court either, finishing as the program’s 10th all-time leading scorer. He’s going to attend Calvin College, a small Christian Liberal Arts school in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“He could have played at a small Division I school,” Brauer said. “Guys like Michael don’t come around very often. He’s a special breed of kid. He’s as good as it gets.”
Overzet was the ace of the staff, winning a school-record 29 games during his career.
“Trent was always good for five or six innings every time out,” Brauer said. “That’s a luxury not many coaches have.”
Lemmenes sat out 20 games this season after an errant pitch broke a bone in his elbow. He drove in 102 RBI during his career, fourth-best in the program’s history.
“We missed his production when he was out,” Brauer said. “He was a career .300 hitter and drove in a lot runs.”
Then there’s Arvin, a catcher who deftly handled the pitching staff and seemingly always found a way to get on base — even if it meant taking one for the team.
“He led our team with 33 walks and was hit by pitch 11 times this season,” Brauer said. “He came though with some clutch hits and really worked hard defensively.”
And while the loss of these seniors will provide a major void in the lineup next spring, I doubt it will be as drastic as some suggest.
It’s more than just luck this senior class’ four-year run coincided with Brauer’s arrival.
Brauer graduated from Grayslake High School in 2000 and played college ball at Valparaiso. He knows the game, and gets the best out of his players.
The program just added a third level, now boasting freshman, sophomore and varsity teams. That’s quite impressive for a school of 365 students.
“I think we have something pretty decent going,” Brauer said. “The kids expect to win now, which is a credit to the senior class. I love the kids and the school. It’s a great fit for my faith and family.”