The Legacy Begins
When the 2009-2010 boys basketball season arrived at Benet Academy, the Redwings were coming off of a 12-15 season. After being one of the strongest programs in the state in the 70’s and 80’s, the Benet basketball program had won more that 17 games only twice over the previous 20 seasons.
But that season, the Redwings had a 2nd year head coach on the rise in Gene Heidkamp and roster full of experience, and more importantly, talent. It was a roster full of talented juniors like Pat Boyle and Matt Parisi, leading scorer and future Northwestern recruit Dave Sobolewski, and a spindly 6’10 center named Frank Kaminsky manning the middle.
That team ended up going 26-4, going undefeated in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and winning a sectional championship. A heartbreaking double overtime loss to a Simeon team featuring future NBA stars Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn was the only thing keeping the Redwings from their first state trip since 1983.
Benet basketball was on the map and thanks to the groundwork laid by that team and Coach Heidkamp, the Redwings have remained among the state’s elite ever since.
Heidkamp’s teams have won at least 20 games in every season since 2010, including two trips to the state championship game and a revenge win over Simeon in the state semis in 2016, where Dave Sobolweski’s younger brother, Dan made the game winning shot.
Benet Basketball Celebrates 2010 Team
On February 15th, a packed house at Benet Academy honored that 2010 team that started it all as most of the roster returned to reflect on that unforgettable group and celebrate their beloved coach.
Dave Sobolweski gave an emotional speech about how much Coach Heidkamp still meant to the members of that team, followed by the BA student section singing Happy Birthday to their coach who turned 50 the following day.
Five year NBA veteran and current Phoenix Sun, Frank Kaminsky was even able to attend, using the time off for the All Star break to make the trip.
Despite the talent that has come through the Benet program over the past ten years, the returning players and members of the current roster know that Heidkamp is the key to their success on and off the court.
While Coach Heidkamp now has over 300 career victories at Benet and has coached several teams to deeper state runs than the 2010 squad, there will always be something special about that first group where everything clicked into place.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.
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