Loyola seniors honing leadership skillsWilmette, Thursday February 17, 2011
Loyola's Michelle Ricolcol gets fouled during their regional final against Glenbrook South on Thursday. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Staff Photographer
It’s not how your start; it’s how you finish.
The Loyola girls basketball team learned that cruel lesson last season. Ranked in the Chicago area most of the winter, the Ramblers exited the state tournament much sooner than expected with a loss in the regional final. That snapped a streak of two consecutive regional championships for Loyola, which ended up 22-9.
For the Ramblers to return to previous levels of success, they will have to do it without standouts Katie Faught and Carrie Schoeneberger.
“It’s a similar team with different people,” said K.C. Stralka, one of five seniors with varsity experience. “Some of the players don’t know the system as well. Last year, we had a lot of people who understood things right away in the summer. It’s been tougher this year.
“I mean, Katie was part of this program forever. It’s tough to lose her, but I think we will be OK.”
Jeremy Schoenecker seems to think so, too. The coach has been happy with what he’s seen this summer. The Ramblers wrap up their summer league at Maine West on July 14.
Along with Stralka, who came off the bench as a junior, other seniors Schoenecker hopes to play bigger roles this season are Michelle Ricolcol, Lauren Kriz, Mary Kate O’Malley and Colleen McShane. Junior Anna Schueler also played significant minutes last season.
McShane is taking over at point guard from Nicole Gleason, while Stralka and Kriz will get more time in the post.
“It’s a lot different for me,” Stralka said. “It’s more a leadership role. Players like Lauren, Michelle and I have been around the longest, so we are trying to pull everyone together.”
Schoenecker and his staff are using this offseason to evaluate the remaining players in summer camp to see who is ready for a promotion. Getting a long look are incoming freshman Sarah Elston and three sophomores.
“We will see how they fit in,” the coach said.
Added Stralka, who played some on varsity as a sophomore, “We hope someone will step up and make some strides by November.”
Later this month, Stralka will embark on her school service project. She is heading to Mission, S.D., to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Ricolcol, Kriz, O’Malley and McShane also were away recently.
“It’s highly recommended and always well-reviewed,” Stralka said. “People sometimes say it’s the highlight of their senior year.”