Girls Basketball: Hinsdale South’s Toni Romiti learns to flyMegan Geldernick (right) of Metea Valley slams on the brakes while guarded tightly by Toni Romiti (21) of Hinsdale South. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Toni Romiti isn’t nervous about playing in Las Vegas this week. The senior guard from Hinsdale South was nervous about getting to Las Vegas.
Romiti took her first plane flight early Sunday morning as her new AAU team, River Forest-based Chicago Hoops Express, departed Midway for a Southwest Airlines flight to the Blue Star Nationals.
The U.S. Junior Nationals-sponsored tournament started Monday and ends Wednesday at Las Vegas-area high schools. It’s the only major trip of the AAU season for Romiti, who has traveled by car previously in her life. Hoops Express will play in the Nike Midwest Showcase July 21-23 in Indianapolis, but the team will travel by car.
“I’ll try to fall asleep,” Romiti said about her first flight.
Romiti’s longest road trip was to Texas years ago. Many of her previous trips have been limited to the Midwest.
Romiti’s first tournament appearance with Hoops Express was Friday in the one-day Adidas Jamboree at Hidden Cove Sportsplex in Bourbonnais. Romiti did not play with her usual AAU tournament team.
The Jamboree featured random teams from Hoops Express playing three games in a single day. Among college recruiters in attendance was DePaul women’s coach Doug Bruno and assistant coaches from schools such as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Marquette, along with dozens of representatives from Division III schools and junior colleges.
Hinsdale South lost four starters to graduation last season, leaving Romiti as the only returnee.
“It’s weird. We could have a hard season,” Romiti said about the Hornets. “We could use a few of those seniors back.”
Since she would like to play in college, the elite AAU circuit is new to Romiti, who didn’t even play last summer. She is coming off her first season with Hinsdale South’s badminton team in the spring.
Romiti last played AAU basketball two years ago for the Lady Dribblers.
She tried out and made Hoops Express’ I team, which features three players from Trinity (Mikayla Leyden, Shannon McGinnis and Lauren Prochaska) and two players from outside the Chicago area: Harlem’s Serina Cortinez and Aaliyah Covington from Downstate Edwardsville.
Romiti heard about the team from the father of former teammate Andrea McNally. In March, Romiti called Hoops Express director Jerald Davis for information on tryouts.
“That was the first team on my list,” Romiti said. “When I called Jerald, I didn’t know what to say.”
Romiti said Davis had never heard of her, but helped her with information on the club. Romiti is the only player from a West Suburban Gold school with Hoops Express this AAU season.
“It’s fun. This will be a hard week, but I’m excited,” Romiti said. “There are a lot of girls from different teams and schools, but I’m getting to know them better.”
After returning from Las Vegas, Romiti and Hoops Express will play Saturday and Sunday in the Midwest Summer Challenge at Bartlett Community Center.