If you asked me which stories I have enjoyed writing most over the years, I would undoubtedly babble a bit, mention a few standbys but mostly draw a blank. In recent years, I have even begun writing the occasional story, then thought it felt familiar and found that I had actually written the same lede once before, or an eerily similar one. Scary but true.

So, here is my solution. In time, I will actually collect my favorites. In the meantime, all of the below informed my book in some way. The Tribune column in 2004 was written on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of our state championship, and was actually the catalyst for the project. The column about Jerry Sloan and my teammate Peggy (who, by my own choice, I didn’t name then but was fine with me sharing her story in the book), I hope can still serve as inspiration.

And the Tribune Magazine story about my parents unfortunately remains a universal tale that resonates with more and more people every day. If nothing else, I hope it reassures someone out there that they’re not alone.

Reliving the fun that never was

ESPN, 6/9/14

A small chest in our coat closet held scarves, hats, odd gloves with no partners and the real treasure that only I recognized.

The flannel baseball caps with the “L” for Lincolnwood stitched on were discarded there after each Little League season, in various colors and sizes, nothing my older brothers probably thought a thing about but magnificent to me.

Read the original article here …

Nicholas Mannos: 1921 – 2008

Chicago Tribune, 3/30/08

Nicholas Mannos was our high school principal. That meant two things in the ’70s: We were scared of him. And we knew little more about him than that.

Oh, we saw him on grainy WGN telecasts each spring, one of those guys with the mustard-colored blazers handing out awards to state champions as a member of the IHSA Board of Directors. If we had really stopped to think about it, that might have impressed us.

Read the original article here …

Fade to black: ‘Something’s not right with mom … and now dad.’

Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1/13/08

It is a simple television remote. But it is making our family crazy.

Cable TV has arrived at my parents’ house, and with it has come a more complicated channel selector, which I have painted with red nail polish to designate the key buttons for them to push. But this is obviously not working.

Read more here …

25 years later, title-run thrills remain

Chicago Tribune, 1/30/04

We didn’t know it then, but it was in the corner of a cramped teachers lounge and later in the tiny girls’ gym where our course was plotted and the journey began.

Funny that during those heady first years in which Title IX would give girls the same athletic opportunities as boys, it would take a woman who wasn’t afraid to admit she needed help, and a man who so graciously and quietly gave it, to see our potential realized.

Read the original article here …

It’s no longer the bad old days

Chicago Tribune, 3/17/06

Jenn’e Jackson’s mom is shocked to hear this, but her daughter, a freshman on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, carries around an old laminated newspaper clipping for inspiration.

In the photo, Beatrice Jackson, her long arms outstretched, is soaring over three opponents for a rebound.

“She looked kind of like me,” said Jenn’e, a striking 6-foot-1-inch forward for the fifth-seeded Wildcats, who will play Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday at Allstate Arena. Read the original article here …

‘Jerry saved my life’

Chicago Tribune, 6/8/97

At 15, he taught her to take a charge. Implored her to plant her tall, skinny frame and bony knees in front of oncoming traffic when she barely had the skills to dribble.

She listened, of course. “I would run in front of anybody every chance I got,” she remembers. “And he would pick me off the floor like a rag doll, slap me on the back and I’d go do it again.” Read the original article here …