Girls soccer: Two more MSL coaching icons stepping down
When Hall-of-Fame head coach Willie Filian retired last spring, it instantly pushed Greg Charvat and Tom Froats in as the deans of coaching in the MSL.
In that position for just one year, these two fine and highly respected gentlemen of the sport of soccer will follow their former counterpart into the world of retirement when they step down at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
Charvat, who has been in charge of the girls program since 1994, lists his 1998 club that won the MSL title and 2011 team that lost in its sectional championship to rival Conant as his two most memorable of his storied career.
"Honestly, the highlight of my career has been coaching over 1,200 soccer players, and watching them mature, and to go on to be successful in their own careers," says Chavrat, who played soccer and graduated from Schaumburg in 1984, before returning to teach and coach in 1994.
Charvat was MSL Coach of the Year in 1998 when the Saxons went 18-4-1, falling short in the supersectional final to eventual state champion St. Charles.
Charvat, who teaches AP Spanish, Spanish 4 (a dual-credit Harper College course), says he will cherish all of the wonderful memories his players have provided, naming perhaps his favorite of all in Tracy Gleixner (Serafini) who has been his longtime assistant.
"Tracy is the all-time leading goals scorer (72) and assists (42). She went on to have a successful collegiate career at Bowling Green, then came to her roots to become a wonderful teacher and coach for the past 20 years," says a proud Chavrat.
Charvat says he and his wife Tammy have already planned a trip to the east coast, and later to Australia, South America and perhaps to Europe, in between spending plenty of time in the garden.
True to the class of Chavrat, he made sure that Froats was to be included in this weeks soccer notebook when asked to respond to questions in advance of this story.
Froats started his wonderful coaching career at Prospect as the boys coach in the fall of 1994. He led the Knights to their first MSL Soccer Cup appearance, where they lost to eventual state champion Palatine, 1-0.
Froats, now in his 21st year as the girls head coach, has taught freshmen biology and oceanography to upperclassmen all throughout his 33 years. He has also been in the front of the room teaching chemistry, physics and environmental science during his early years.
"What I will miss most of all are the amazing young women that year-in and year-out pass through our program, and make an impact on our team, program, community and in the classroom. I will miss the community service programs, food drives, and the team and program building events as well," says Froats, who last spring led his club to its first MSL Soccer Cup appearance since 2003, and third overall in program history.
"Last year certainly is right up there for all of the success we had, on, and off the field, but it's the overnight trips to Moline, and Springfield over the years, and the nights we honor our senior players with the understanding that it (is) more than just soccer that we want our program to be about," adds Froats.
When asked to choose 3-4 of his top players over his superb career, Froats admits it was too tough of a task, before mentioning Megan McCabe, Ashley Welk and Rachel Lenke, as well as Andrea Sherva and Katie Klostermeyer, who each were terrific student-athletes.
Froats plans on spending more time with his wife Kimberly who he says has done all of the heavy lifting for his family of six, while planning several trips to Nashville where his first grandchild (Emerson 'Emmie' Anne) recently came into this world on March 10, 2023.
"We'll want to enjoy more time with our adult children, and pursue a new career as a flight attendant with a major airline, then travel extensively to the places I have taught in my oceanography classes: Fiji, Iceland, Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef."
Lake Zurich looking good:
The big three in the North Suburban Conference of Libertyville, Stevenson and Warren have had a stranglehold of the league trophy in recent years -- with Lake Zurich coming close in 2016 and 2018.
However, things appear to be looking up for the Bears, who have a talented group of players who are off to a strong start -- with an eye on catching, and eventually overtaking the aforementioned trio of league rivals.
"We are very excited about the potential this team has show thus far. We have a hard working team (still) young with just three seniors. And if we continue to improve, and play 80 minutes of complete soccer, we'll be able to compete in a really tough soccer conference, and in the two tournaments we'll be at," says Bears coach Mike Castronova.
"While Libertyville, Stevenson and Warren are really good teams, all of them lost a lot of great players through graduation. So we feel we can be right there with them this year," says junior Lauren Bailey, who leads her club with 5 goals, after bagging 14 a year ago for a team that went 13-7-2 and 3-3-1 in league play.
"Our young players have come in and have stepped into their roles and are already playing really well," adds Bailey, who in the Bears' 4-3-3 lines up as the center-forward alongside sophomore Cammy Niempomnik (4 assists) and senior Sam Keating to form a lethal partnership up top.
Bailey -- who plays on the high profile Libertyville '74 club team which features Carmel scoring star Anna Hartman, Mia Gloria and Reese Mertens from Warren, as well as teammate Mallory Collins -- is quick, crafty, superb in her movement, and able to pry open opponents for herself or teammates, as witnessed by the four assists she has recorded thus far.
"Our offense led by Lauren, Cammy, Sam and freshman Sydney Arendarczuk have really come together of late, and with our back line, led by senior Maggie Miller, (has) really helped start our offense from out of the back." adds Castronova.
The Bears will play three games after spring break, ending with state-ranked Glenbrook North, while reigning league champion Stevenson readies itself for the prestigious Malnati's Deep Dish Invite, which begins on April 6.
The Patriots open with CPS power Lane Tech, followed by host New Trier, then Grayslake Central, while Libertyville, also a participant in this fifth annual event, takes on St. Francis and Naperville North, before finishing up pool play with Evanston.
Warren comes out of the break with a pair of nonconference games with Glenbrook South and McHenry.
Aforementioned Grayslake Central will begin play in the Northern Lake County Conference (NLCC) in earnest when it travels crosstown to play Grayslake North on April 6 in advance of its appearance at the Malnati's Classic.