At Fenwick, nobody leaves without the coach
Dave Power isn't the only Fenwick basketball coach who drives the bus. JV girls coach Dale Heidloff also drives his team to and from games after seeing Power do it. | George M. Wilcox~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 10:17PM
OAK PARK — Fenwick coach Dave Power announced that the team bus would leave Saturday at 12:30 p.m. for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff in Barrington.
But actually, the Friars departed whenever he felt like it.
They don’t have to wait for a bus driver from a local company. The No. 7 bus from the school’s own fleet is already parked along the curb waiting for the players’ departure.
At Fenwick, the bus driver is also the team’s coach. Power not only determines the lineup, barks out orders from the sideline and provides instruction, but the veteran coach with more than 800 career victories also owns the keys to the team bus.
Nearly 10 years ago, Power had a tough time explaining why he should get into the game free when Fenwick traveled to Chicago’s West Side to play at Marshall.
“They made me pay,” Power said. “They said, ‘Too many of your coaches got in for free.’ I said, ‘I’m the coach.’ They said, ‘We saw you: You are the bus driver.’ ”
The 61-year-old native of Glen Ellyn began driving the team bus long before he became the first to assume the reins at Fenwick in 1992. He has coached at Proviso West, Immaculate Heart of Mary and Fenwick since 1977 and ranks second in the state behind Marshall’s Dorothy Gaters for career wins by a girls basketball coach.
It was at IHM, which eventually merged into St. Joseph, where Power began taking the wheel during the 1984-85 season.
“The bus didn’t show (one day),” Power said.
Another incident when IHM had to forfeit a game at Romeoville after the bus did not arrive was the tipping point. He figured why not take over the responsibility of transporting his team as well?
He started out by driving a small yellow bus (he calls it the “breadbox”) for a regional playoff game at Lyons and then moved up to the full-sized bus after getting his license.
Power learned from instructor Joan Biba and passed a road, a written and a general knowledge test. He must attend an eight-hour classroom session each year.
On Sunday, Power took Fenwick’s cheerleading squad to an all-day competition in Huntley. In the fall, he steers the bus for the volleyball team, which includes current basketball players Hannah Sophie and Maggie Reilly.
“It’s been a great experience. He’s not only our coach, but he drives the bus too, which is a more personal connection,” Sophie said. “I put more trust in him because he drives us. I trust him even more as a coach and as a person.”
Two of Fenwick’s freshmen players this season, Deja Cage and Rickeisha Sheard, were surprised to see their coach in the driver’s seat when the season began.
“It’s pretty cool. It isn’t weird; it’s cool,” Sheard said. “My coach gives us a bus ride to the game.”
On Saturday, Power pulled out of the Fenwick parking lot at 12:40 p.m. without two of his players. Their teammates on the bus informed him who was missing, but Power wanted to make a point. He looped around the school parking lot and returned to the back entrance just as Sarah Pezza and Jennifer Mackowiak returned from raiding a snack machine.
The bus remained quiet on the road to Barrington. Team members sat only in the back half of the bus. The other passengers are team managers Robert Schaefer, a sophomore from La Grange, and Kelsey Feldmeier, a junior from Western Springs. They each keep statistics on an iPad for the coaches to study during and after the game.
On the ride, a few players had on headphones. Mackowiak listened to “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem and “Remember the Name,” by Fort Minor. Maya Garland’s selection included “Work It,” by Missy Elliot and “Wild Boy,” by MGK. Jade Owens preferred “Problems,” by ASAP Rocky and “No Worries,” by Lil Wayne.
Fenwick plays in the East Suburban Catholic, a conference that stretches across four counties. Opponents include Carmel in Mundelein, Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights, and Bishop McNamara in Kankakee.
“The East Suburban Catholic is a traveling road show,” Power said.
It’s up to him to ensure that the Friars are a part of it.