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Prep Sports

Goss: Growing Lockport Veterans Night slated Jan. 19

Mike Zaworski will not be handling his accustomed duties as public address announcer for Lockport basketball when the Porters’ girls host Morton and the boys entertain Sandburg the night of Jan. 19 at Lockport East.

Slacking? Hardly.

Zaworski, who teaches the Vietnam class in the social studies department at Lockport, is the Lockport Veterans Night coordinator, and that night will be this season’s Super Bowl for everyone involved. He will be master of ceremonies, and the public address duties during the games will be handled by a Vietnam veteran.

During the course of our conversation Wednesday, he said, “You know, I didn’t even realize how big this has gotten until we started talking about it. There will be a lot going on.”

The Lockport girls will face Morton at 5 p.m., with the Southwest Suburban Blue boys game between Sandburg and the Porters following. The ceremonies are scheduled between games.

“There’s a Lockport Veterans Night during baseball season; this is ours during basketball season,” Zaworski said. “We have invited veterans from Lockport and all over the area.

“This is our fourth year. We have gone from having 22 veterans to 42 the last two years to expecting around 60 to 75 this year. Roughly 57 have signed up so far.”

Veterans who have not yet confirmed their intention to attend can do so by visiting the Lockport Township High School website, by calling Zaworski at 815-588-8591 or by emailing mzaworski@lths.org.

“Remember, you don’t have to be from Lockport,” Zaworski said. “If you’re a veteran from anywhere in the area, we would love to have you.”

Zaworski feels the Porters’ night will attract as many veterans in person as any such night in this area and beyond. He probably is right about that.

“The night is intended for the public to have the opportunity to say thank you to the veterans for what they have done for us,” he said. “The mindset behind it is for the community at large to be able to say thank you.”

Veterans and two family members may enter either entrance at Lockport East. They will be admitted free and directed on where they should go to prepare for the ceremonies. They are being asked to arrive by 5:30 p.m.

“The veterans will be served pizza and pop and will get a Veterans Night T-shirt,” Zaworski said.

A line of ROTC sabers and the Tinley Park Honor Guard will help welcome the veterans. After the boys teams warm up, the huge American flag will be opened on the court for the singing of the national anthem.

How big is it?

If you have traveled Interstate 80 in the New Lenox area, you undoubtedly have seen the large flag at Berland’s House of Tools.

“Berland’s has three of those flags and they are giving us one to use that night,” Zaworski said. “We are very appreciative of that.”

The teams will wear camouflage warmup T-shirts. Zaworski said T-shirts have been selling well for Veterans Night, with money raised going to the Lockport VFW and Lockport American Legion.

“We will be selling those little flags that you hold and wave that night, too, and that money will be donated as well,” he said.

Zaworski had a personal reason for beginning Veterans Night.

“My cousin’s husband was killed in Vietnam when she was pregnant with their only child,” he said. “That was my impetus to get this started.”

From humble beginnings, it has matured into a major annual event on the Lockport basketball calendar.

“It has become a really nice night,” Zaworski said.

SOUTH HALL OF FAME

Years ago, our old friend Larry Simotes, then the Minooka youth baseball coach, called to let me know that two local pitchers, Western Michigan’s Ethan Hollingsworth and Northern Illinois’ Trevor Feeney, would oppose one another in a game in DeKalb. Simotes’ son Grant also was playing at Western Michigan at the time.

So, I took a ride to DeKalb to see the game along with my son Matt, who first knew Hollingsworth from elementary school. Both are 2005 Plainfield South graduates. Hollingsworth was drafted and had a career in professional baseball that lasted several years.

And now, he is a member of the inaugural class of the Plainfield South Hall of Fame. Joining him are Tom Hensel, South’s first principal; Wayne DeSutter, the Cougars’ first athletic director, and Jake Winder (2006), who set school records in the indoor and outdoor pole vault and was the school’s first state champion.

The four Hall of Famers will be inducted at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 in the gym before the Cougars’ boys varsity basketball game against Minooka.

The ceremony is free. Attendees also can buy a dinner ticket for $15. The catered dinner is from 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Dinner reservations are due by Friday. Payment by cash or check is due at the door the day of the ceremony.

Visit the South website at pshs.psd202.org/ and click on “2018 Community Hall of Fame RSVP” to download a dinner reservation form. Call 815-439-555, ext. 5547 or ext. 5587, or email South athletic director Ken Bublitz at kbublitz@psd202.org with questions.

• Dick Goss can be reached at dgoss@shawmedia.com.

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