17 cousins leave their mark on Glenbrook South athletics

  • Jon Cohn

    Jon Cohn

Updated 5/6/2021 7:36 AM

Let's get the hard part out of the way first, with apologies in advance for misspellings, nicknames, or any other punctuation snafus:

There's Jay, Corinne, Kilby, Charley, Honore, Daly, Kathryn, Michael, Luke, Grace Ann, Max, Madeline, Beau, EJ, Will, Mary Grace ... oh, and then there's Doug. Doug is the last of the bunch.


The final chapter.

Doug Reynolds, currently senior team captain and leading scorer for the Titans lacrosse team. When he graduates this May, it will bring to an end a long tradition of Titan athletes all connected by blood and location.

Seventeen cousins from six families, all living in the same East Glenview neighborhood, and have all competed proudly for the blue and gold of Glenbrook South High School.

"Pretty amazing," says Jim Cantwell, father of 5 of the 17, and whose wife Paula is the oldest of the 6 Donnellans in Glenview.

"We all live within a 9-iron of each other, and the cousins have grown up together and have watched and supported each other over the years. I can't even begin to tell you how many Glenbrook South sporting events we have all attended."

This well-connected Titan story has deep roots. It starts with parents/grandparents Edward and Grace Donnellan. They had eight kids, and six of them somehow migrated to the same Glenview neighborhood over the years.

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Five of the six were daughters, so upon marriage names were changed, so here is where the story can get a little tricky to follow. You might want to get a pencil and scorecard out to keep track of this along the way. The Donnellan name is only attached to two of the 17.

First came the Cantwells from older sister Paula, featuring her kids Corinne (swimming, basketball), Jay (football, basketball, track), Kilby (lacrosse, swimming), Charley (track, football) and Honore (swimming and lacrosse). Team Cantwell kind of set the tone and the rest of the cousins came piling after.

The only boy of the six in Glenview was Joe, helping to keep the Donnellan name alive and well at Glenbrook South. A star basketball player at New Trier back in the day, Joe and then-wife Debbie had two daughters who were athletes: Daly (figure skating) and Kathryn (basketball).

Joe and Paula's sister Andrea was next and had one son, Beau (lacrosse, golf). Beau gets family bragging rights as the only one of the 17 to bring home a state championship trophy -- he played on the GBS state champion lacrosse team.


Next up, meet the Martinsens. Another sister, Grace, married and brought three more kids to the Titans sports programs. The Martinsens featured Michael (lacrosse), Luke (lacrosse) and Grace Ann (lacrosse).

Batting next in the lineup was the Salehs, brought to you by yet another sister, Sloan. Sloan was responsible for two of the 17 at the Titan table with Max (basketball) and Madeline (lacrosse, field hockey).

Finally, there is the Reynolds family bringing up the rear, with the youngest of Edward and Grace's children, daughter Maggie, offering four more athletes into the Titan picture: EJ (lacrosse), Will (lacrosse) Mary Grace (tennis and lacrosse), and here we go again -- "then there's Doug." The last of the bunch, and as mentioned, currently a captain and star lacrosse player.

"We kind of brought up the caboose," says Maggie Reynolds. "Our kids were pretty young when some of the other cousins started playing, but they still went to many games and definitely found their love for sports and competition.

"Some families are gifted in music, or theater or other areas; somehow our group all just seemed to migrate to sports."

The oldest of the 17 cousins, Corinne Cantwell Heggie, who, as a by-the-way, is an attorney and writes a monthly column for our paper called "Estates Made Easy," put things in perspective from the other end of the family spectrum.

"Sports and going to each other's games really became part of the family fabric," Corinne says. "Sometimes I would be working in the city, and we would drive back early and bring my own kids to watch one of the cousins' games. Competing in athletics at Glenbrook South has given all of us such a sense of pride and so many wonderful lifetime skills."

"It has really been special to watch over the years," adds her dad, Jim Cantwell. "The experiences they have got from sports have been so positive. There have been awards, team captains, all-conference selections, and scholarships along the way, but more importantly, the kids have all learned about giving back to the community and leadership and the importance of team. Glenbrook South athletics has been tremendous for all of them."

It certainly has brought the families close together. There have even been times when older cousins have coached the younger ones. Jay was a football coach with the Junior Titan program when EJ and Will played, and Grace Ann (Gracie) was a J.V coach at South when Mary Grace was in the program.

Just to put things in full perspective and appreciate the long span, the age gap between oldest cousin Corinne and the youngest, Doug, is 26 years.

Yup. And then there's Doug. The last of the 17.

"I kind of look at Doug finishing his last year, and being the last of the cousins, as not really the end of an era, but more a passing of the torch," Corinne says.

"It's actually been an advantage being the youngest," says Doug. "A lot of good role models and a lot of older cousins I have been able to look up to. No pressure, really, being the last, and I have enjoyed representing the family."

So, with Doug finishing his lacrosse season next month, comes the end of quite an era. That 17-year Titan itch has been fully scratched, and we will finally bid adieu to the last of Edward and Grace's grandchildren.

But, not to worry. The next generation is coming up quickly.

Great-grandchildren Jack, Paul and Teddy Heggie all are playing for Junior Titan Football, and all look forward to suiting up for the beloved blue and gold in a few years.

The next implosion of Donnellan connected athletes are on the way.

To be continued.

• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email jcsportsandtees@aol.com.

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