Lake Park losing a 'legend' in retiring coach Edwards
Greg Edwards is the coach of Lake Park's boys bowling team. That title doesn't really do the man justice.
"I'd like to think I'm a life coach," he said.
Edwards is certainly a lifer on the lanes. Brunswick Zone in Glendale Heights, site of Saturday's IC Catholic sectional, is where Edwards was an already established youth coach when Lake Park recruited him to help found the boys bowling program in fall 2002.
His own son, Jon Pierre Edwards, finished fourth in state for St. Joseph in 2004, Greg Edwards' first season as Lancers coach.
Edwards admits, though, that most of his athletes already know how to bowl. He applies polish -- "helping them train their muscle memory and their mind's eye" -- but Edwards' passion is to motivate students outside the bowling center as well.
"I let them know nothing in the world is promised to you and nothing is easy. You have to go out and ascertain that. Don't be one of those people who waits around for things to come to them. Be one of those who grabs their own brass ring," Edwards said.
"My favorite time," he said, "is when I see a kid smile, when he's enjoying himself regardless of the situation. Whether winning or losing he's trying to do his best and trying to rise to the challenge."
Under Edwards, who is retiring after this season, smiles have been contagious.
The Lancers won the 2009 state championship, runner-up in 2004 and 2010. Edwards' teams have won 12 sectional titles, two regionals, and have advanced to the state tournament 16 times, most of any program. Saturday Lake Park seeks its 13th consecutive state appearance.
"He is not only a boys bowling coaching legend but one of the best coaches I have ever been around when it comes to building relationships with kids," said Lake Park athletic director Pete Schauer.
The Lancers have only a limited time to feel the love. A key factor hastening Edwards' retirement, as he described, is frustration with bowling centers' shifting allegiance to entertainment from competition -- "they'd rather have birthday parties than leagues," he said -- while pricing out more serious young bowlers.
"And I'm getting up there, too," said Edwards, who will turn 67 in April.
With age comes wisdom. Future classes of Lake Park bowlers will miss Edwards' special blend of compassion and truth.
"You cannot grasp anything in life with your hands balled up in the shape of a fist," he said. "If you open your hands, your mind and your heart you can grasp anything. And it's worked for me."
Four of the five members of Naperville North's Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be present Friday to accept the honor. The absence of the fifth guarantees a memorably poignant event.
Program record-setting golfer Becky Fuglestad Roscich (Class of 1988), all-state cross country and track athlete Ted Higgins (1997), all-DuPage Valley Conference football and baseball player Sean Hill (2003) and football and baseball team MVP Steve Sarm (2002) will be inducted as part of Naperville North's 15th Hall of Fame class.
The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in the school library. Inductees also will be recognized at halftime of the boys basketball game against Neuqua Valley, about 7:30 p.m. A reception will follow at the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 in Naperville.
The fifth inductee is the late Steve Mazzarella. A two-time All-America on Western Illinois' swim/dive team, he taught health at Naperville North for 30 years until retiring in 2014. "Mazz" coached Naperville North boys and girls diving for 35 years and served as a judge at the state meet all that time.
He would have continued but, shockingly for a man one colleague described as "the absolute picture of health," he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Mazzarella, who also served students through Operation Snowball, passed away at 62 on Jan. 12, 2019. His impact was such that his passing was recognized in a Senate Resolution at the 101st Illinois General Assembly.
Naperville North teacher Katie Genovesi will present Mazzarella's Hall of Fame award. Accepting will be his wife of more than 34 years, Lesly Mazzarella.