Ushela continues Lyons’ winning tradition
Updated: June 13, 2011 11:42AM
George Ushela became part of Lyons’ second state championship in the same school year Saturday.
Ushela won his second state title as the coach of Lyons’ baseball team with an 8-3 victory over Providence in the Class 4A title game. On Nov. 13, Ushela was the assistant coach for Joann Pyritz on the state championship girls volleyball team, which defeated Cary-Grove 25-23, 18-25, 25-23 in Normal.
Many members of the championship volleyball team were in attendance for the baseball team’s final game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
“It’s wonderful. A lot of the volleyball team is right there. It was special in the fall,” Ushela said.
Two of the standout players from the volleyball team, Jocelynn Birks and Alexis Viliunas, wanted to be managers this spring for the baseball team, but Ushela turned them down due to their time commitment with their club volleyball teams.
“We would have loved to have been managers,” Viliunas said. “It would be hard with club volleyball. We went to as many games as we could. We wanted to show that we were dedicated fans the whole time. We came [Saturday] for Ushela. We wanted to support him.”
Both the Lyons girls volleyball team and baseball team won their third state titles this school year. The last time Lyons won two state titles in the same school year was last school year, when the boys soccer and girls water polo teams both finished first. In 1953, boys basketball and boys track won championships two months apart.
Ushela spent 15 years as the assistant coach to Terry Sullivan before taking over the baseball program in 2001. He won his first state title in 2003 by beating Rockford Boylan 15-6 in Class AA. Ushela raised his career record to 365-128-3 in 14 years, including three years with Westmont from 1983-1985.
This year’s team won 13 of its last 14 games and its 37 wins topped the 2003 team’s school record of 36 wins.
Sullivan watched Saturday’s state championship trophy presentation from the Lyons dugout and was later given a medal by a member of the coaching staff.
“This is way beyond satisfaction. This is the best season that’s ever been,” said Sullivan, who has been a Boston Red Sox scout for the past nine years since retiring from Lyons. “[Ushela] is a great clinician. His true strength is in value teaching. He had everything to do with [the title]. He got them to believe in themselves and believe in their sacrifices.”
Ushela has already won two state titles, something Sullivan never enjoyed despite making a state quarterfinal appearance in 1987 and a third-place finish in 1996.
“We focus on the positives all the time whether we win or lose,” Ushela said. “We work on what we need to improve on. We do a lot of visualization training.”
Ushela doesn’t have long to enjoy Lyons’ state championship. Lyons opens the summer league season at 3:30 p.m. Monday with a home game against Sandburg.
“I get to enjoy it for 48 hours and then I’m back at it,” Ushela said.