Minooka senior softball player Jackie Lilek has been playing ball for about the last 11 years now. Since she is on board to play four the next four years at the University of North Dakota, that run is still a ways from being complete.
However, Lilek and the Indians — a team loaded with talented seniors — will have their run come to a close in the next couple of months. They are hoping it will be later than sooner.
After a reccent game, Lilek agreed to engage the MDH as this week’s Question & Answer subject and this is how it went.
Q. I know softball is a team game but lets start with your development. When did you start playing the game? Do you remember the team name and who coached?
A. I started in grade school. The coach I remember most was Doug Pirc. He told my parents I needed to find a more competitive program. That’s when I tried out for Stone City Softball, run by Ed Serdar.
Q. What are your earliest memories of competing?
A. When I was around 7 years old, playing coach pitch, our coach would take us out for ice cream after every win.
Q. Have you always been a pitcher/shortstop type?
A. Pitcher and third have always been my main positions. I play short for my travel team now, but I hope to start at third in college.
Q. What about the other girls on the Indians. How long has this current group been playing together now?
A. Over the years all of us have played together at some point on a travel team.
Q. When did you start playing summer travel ball?
A. I started travel ball when I was 9 at Stone City. My coach was Dave Glasscock. I credit him for teaching me not only how to play the game but how to love it.
Q. Let’s turn to this year’s team. How high are the expectations for the Indians this spring?
A. I was very disappointed that we lost regionals last year so my first goal was to make the Elite 8. But, after being with the team for a while we have set the goal to have an undefeated season.
Q. Much has been made about how many girls are electing to play softball at the next level. How neat is that feeling?
A. For a while it looked like I wasn’t going to play college ball because of my injuries, but when I signed to the University of North Dakota it made all of the hard work over the last ten years worth it.
Q. As far as your college selection (UND) goes, can you walk us through how that played out, including visits and things like that. Also, what other schools did you consider?
A. My big school choices were Dayton University and Dartmouth, but they just didn’t pan out. My travel coach, Cray Allen, had recently sent players to UND and thought I might like it there. Within 2 weeks I had sent Coach Oakley a skills video, attended their camp, took an official visit, and signed my letter of intent. Looking back it seems like a quick decision, but it is a great fit for me not only for softball, but more importantly academically.
Q. Finally, if you had one piece of advice for a young girl in the Minooka/Channahon area who wanted to be a good varsity player for the Indians some day, what kind of advice would you offer them?
A. Learn to love the game. Sometimes as we get older we forget why we started playing softball in the first place. Our coaches at Minooka do a great job of keeping things interesting, but it is still on us as players to bring the intensity and excitement every day. Coach Brown is big on having fun no matter what we are doing, so if he sees you giving your all and having a great time with your teammates he will be impressed.