Egofske set the tone for the Big Dipper

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Egofske set the tone for the Big Dipper

Rich South's George Egofske was a trend-setter, a visionary, a mover-and-shaker, whether he was coaching football or directing all of his school's sports programs or overseeing the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament.

In 1970, while serving as football coach at Rich East, Egofske scheduled his season opener against perennial power Evanston. His players worked hard all summer with one objective in mind: beat Evanston. Egofske was matched against one of the most successful coaches in state history, Murney Lazier, and he was determined to win the moment. He did.

In 1973, Egofske seized another moment. He founded the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament. To steal some glitter from the high celebrated Proviso West Holiday Tournament, he wanted to conduct a community oriented event where teams could enjoy great competition and still be close to home during the holidays.

"It was a great chance to keep the local talent at home and give fans access to it," said Kevin Kelly, a tournament historian who has been involved with the event since 1984.

"When George was involved, it was mostly south suburban schools. Rich South is the only school that has been in the field for every year. Crete-Monee missed only the first tournament."

Egofske, now 81 and retired after serving as Rich South's athletic director from 1973 to the mid-1990s, also was an innovator. In 1983, he introduced the three-point shooting line and the 35-second shot clock to the tournament. And he also introduced a coach's box before the National High School Federation thought of it.

"The Big Dipper is in its 39th year and it has had only three tournament directors -- Egofske, Ron Ray and Mark Hopman," Kelly said. "And each has put his own fingerprints on the tournament."

Egofske brought a Class A team, Watseka, to the tournament. To be more competitive with Proviso West, Ray lured Class A powers Leo and Hales Franciscan and two perennial south suburban powers to join the field. He wooed Bloom away from Pontiac and Thornton away from Centralia. Hopman brought in a major sponsor, McDonald's.

Egofske also brought in Kelly, a Marian Catholic graduate of 1980 who was a sportswriter at the Chicago Heights Star for 15 years before becoming the public relations director and assistant athletic director at Marian Catholic. A figure filbert, Kelly was just what Egofske was looking for in a promoter for the tournament.

Last year was the first year that McDonald's sponsored the event. So it is now called the Rich South Mc-Dipper Tournament. Melvin Buckley, a former Thornwood player who coached at Marian Catholic for two years, owns several McDonald's franchises in the south suburbs, including one directly across the street from the Richton Park school.

This year's opening-round pairings will pit Seton vs. Rich Central, Thornton vs. Leo, Rich East vs. Evanston and Tinley Park vs. Crete-Monee in the upper bracket with Corliss vs. Bloom, Bolingbrook vs. Marian Catholic, Joliet Central vs. Rich South and Lincoln Park vs. Hales Franciscan in the lower bracket.

Kelly recalls many fond memories of past tournaments:

The run that coach Ron Brauer had in the mid-1980s with his Rich Central teams led by Kendall Gill. And their matchups with Phil Henderson and Crete-Monee, which won in 1986 and 1987 with overtime victories over Oak Forest and Tinley Park.

Bloom coming to the Big Dipper in 1993 after a long and successful run at Pontiac. But the Trojans have won only once, in 1995.

Thornton coming to the Big Dipper in 1996 after a long and successful run at Centralia. Thornton has won seven titles, Rich Central nine.

The great St. Laurence teams led by Kevin Boyle and Jim Stack in the late 1970s.

Evanston is returning to the Big Dipper after a long run at Proviso West. The Wildkits, led by Everette Stephens and Mike Cobb, won Big Dipper titles in 1983 and 1984.

The all-time Big Dipper team? How about St. Laurence's Steve Krafcisin, Oak Forest's Phil Collins, Evanston's Everette Stephens, Thornton's Joevan Catron and Shepard's Mike Smith?

That's a pretty good lineup, Kelly agrees, but how about Rich Central's Kendall and Eric Gill, Homewood-Flossmoor's Chris Dillard and Crete-Monee's Phil Henderson and Weldon Williams?

"Now we're getting packed houses on most nights, so much so that we have to bring in more security," Kelly said. "But the tournament is committed to keeping ticket prices at reasonable rates. Sessions are 5 for four games."

That's not to mention the other perks that make the Big Dipper a premier event -- the pre-tournament dinner for coaches and media to announce the pairings and the hospitality room that annually draws raves from coaches, media and officials for its tasty cuisine and specialty items.

Kelly points out all the credit for running a smooth ship in the hospitality room goes to Nancy Adduci, who has served as secretary for all three athletic directors. She is the true MVP of the tournament.

Cubs slug their way to a sweep of Reds in Cincinnati

Cubs slug their way to a sweep of Reds in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (AP) Anthony Rizzo legged out his first inside-the-park homer on Wednesday - another unusual moment in a series full of oddities - and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 for a three-game sweep that got them back on solid footing after a rough week.

The Cubs went 1-6 last week, hurt by an injury-depleted lineup and a balky bullpen. With thousands of Cubs fans in the stands at Great American Ball Park for each game, they pulled off an invigorating sweep.

The NL Central leaders won the opener 11-8 as Kris Bryant became the first major leaguer with three homers and two doubles in a game. They won 7-2 in 15 innings Tuesday night in a game that featured Javier Baez's grand slam and three relievers playing left field alternately.

There was more wackiness in the finale.

Fire cut ties with Gilberto, mutually terminate contract

Fire cut ties with Gilberto, mutually terminate contract

Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said the club would likely be quiet in the summer, but they announced a big move on Wednesday.

The Fire and Gilberto mutually agreed to terminate the Brazilian forward’s contract, cutting him loose in the middle of the season.

The move is significant for a number of ways. First, it marks the end of another failed Designated Player for the Fire. Gilberto scored five goals in 10 matches after joining the team on July 27 last season, but had no goals and two assists in nine matches this season.

The second important thing to note is that Gilberto’s departure means the Fire now have an open DP slot. David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike are the remaining two DPs on the roster. Also, Gilberto is off the books both in terms of salary and in terms of his salary cap hit for the remainder of the season.

“Despite his best efforts, Gilberto was not able to reach his top form in Major League Soccer,” Rodr√≠guez said in a statement. “He is a good person, with a big heart and a passion for the game, and we hope he finds success at his next stop.”

Gilberto’s departure also means the Fire have an open international spot on the roster. Previously all eight international spots were filled up.

Gilberto last played for the Fire on May 21, when he delivered the assist on the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against Houston. Coach Veljko Paunovic said after the following match on May 28, a 1-1 draw with Portland, that Gilberto asked for some time away for personal reasons a couple days before the match.

Gilberto’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season. His contract was the highest on the team at $1,145,000, according to the MLS Players Union.

White Sox draftees one win away from College World Series title

White Sox draftees one win away from College World Series title

The White Sox are going to have to wait a little longer for two members of their 2016 MLB Draft class to join their farm system.

Coastal Carolina closer Mike Morrison (27th round) and third baseman Zach Remillard (10th round) have played a major role in the Chanticleers magical postseason run which has them one win away from a College World Series championship after Tuesday's thrilling 5-4 win against Arizona.

With a depleted pitching staff, Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore turned to his senior closer to make just his third career college start in an effort to even the best-of-three series at 1-1.

Gilmore's decision paid off.

Morrison tossed a career-high 103 pitches on the biggest stage of his career, limiting Arizona to just two runs while matching a College World Series finals record with 10 strikeouts. Morrison was pulled after just 6 2/3 innings. Although he didn't get the victory, Morrison gave Coastal Carolina the quality start they needed.

Before exiting the mound, a teary-eyed Morrison embraced pitching coach Drew Thomas and reliever Bobby Holmes, then walked to the dugout to a standing ovation from the 24,716 in attendance.

“I put my heart and soul into this program for four years, man, and to end it like that, I mean, that was special,” Morrison said via Josh Planos of  KETV.com. “That standing ovation was probably the coolest things that’s ever going to happen in my entire life.”

Morrison presumably finishes his season with a record of 8-1 and a 1.50 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 72 innings.

While Morrison will be watching the winner-take-all Game 3 from the sidelines, Remillard, who scored the game-winning run Tuesday night, will try to ignite the Chanticleers offense batting out of the cleanup spot.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, Remillard has rebounded into one of the nation's premier hitters — he's no slouch with the glove either. The New York native has a slash line of .345/.392/.617 with 19 homers and 72 RBI this season.

As the soon-to-be White Sox aim to bring some hardware back home, their former teammate and current White Sox prospect will be cheering them on from Charlotte.