Chicago Sun-Times
Crissy a natural for state finals
March 9, 2003


Chicago Sun Times

NORMAL, Ill.--The state finals are a stage that was made for Rachel Crissy .

Naperville Central's 5-8 junior guard is the oldest of five children, Her father, Cris, was a third-team All-America receiver at Princeton in 1980 and was second in the nation in receiving.

Cris played for the Redskins from 1981-83 and was a member of the Super Bowl XVII championship team, but didn't play in the game after suffering a broken jaw and being placed on injured reserve earlier in the season. He was New York's high school player of the year in 1976 at Penn Yan and led his team to a state title.

He attended graduate school at Northwestern, and the family lived in London for 41/2 years before returning to the Chicago area in 1996.

"I just let [Rachel] do her thing,'' Cris said. "She is probably the most independent of my kids. She's the oldest [the others are 16, 10, 8 and 5], and she can be a teacher and a leader out there. [As a parent], I've got to nudge them in the right direction and make sure all the kids want to keep playing sports and having fun. [I tell them] just keep working hard, and good things will come.''

"My dad has seen everything bad and good that can happen to a person in sports,'' Rachel said. "I can honestly say that he is my role model.''

Rachel not only fits basketball and ice hockey into her schedule in the winter, she also excels in track and is a two-time state qualifier in the 400-meter run and two relays.

"I think it's strange that my first two years I made it Downstate in track and field and not basketball,'' said Crissy, who wants to follow her dad to the Ivy League but said her top choice is Dartmouth. "To be honest, I do think that sometimes we get overlooked because we play with Candace [Parker], because she is the best player in the country. But it's an honor to play with her, and she is a team player.''

"The season has been fantastic,'' Cris said. "The girls have learned to play together and just enjoy being around each other. It's not about individuals, it's about working together.''

BATTLING BACK: Morgan Park senior ShaDawn Battle was among the competitors in the Country Insurance 3-point Showdown. She didn't make the finals, hitting 9 of 15 attempts on Thursday. But her appearance alone was a triumph.

Battle, a transfer from Whitney Young following a coaching change in the fall of 2001, is blind in her right eye. On Halloween, she was hit by what her mother said was ''a frozen egg.'' Battle already has undergone one operation to try and restore her vision and will have a second operation in the next few days.

The 5-4 guard made it back for the Mustangs' last two games.

"Just being here and getting to shoot in the contest makes my whole senior year,'' Battle said. "I did the best I could and was just happy to be here.''

DID YOU KNOW? Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum is the only softball coach whose team beat former Thornwood pitcher Tina Zuccolo in a state finals game. In her three-year run of taking the T-Birds to the Elite Eight, Zuccolo was 7-1 with state titles in 1990 and 1991. In the 1989 semifinals, Nussbaum's team upset the T-Birds.

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR: Before the inevitable movement of players, here's a look at 10 area teams that should be in the running for next year's state finals--Na-perville Central, Benet, Neuqua Valley, Stagg, Fremd, Whitney Young, Loyola, New Trier, Trinity and Joliet.

IVY-BOUND? On Wednesday, Naperville Central senior Courtney Peters had a home visit with Brown. She has visited the campus twice, and it could be a match. Peters ranks in the top 5 percent of her class and scored a near-perfect 35 on the ACT.

WHERE WINNERS PLAY: All of the Class AA Final Four--Fenwick, Althoff, Regina and Naperville Central--as well as Elite Eight qualifiers Marian Catholic and Trinity and Class A champion Hope were participants in the McDonald's Shootout in January at Willowbrook.

And Naperville Central, Fenwick and Regina finished 1-2-3 at Dundee-Crown.

TREY CHIC: Buffalo Grove junior Kelly McIntyre made 10 of 15 shots to win the Class AA three-point competition. She advanced to Saturday night's final, where she lost to Class A winner Christi Blackburn of Decatur St. Teresa 7-6.