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Grams, Grens recognized for state achievement
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Columnist

Elk Grove softball coach Ken Grams stands with his team after earning his 700th win against Maine West last May. Grams and the Grens were honored for their third-place effort in the softball state tournament during halftime of a varsity football game Sept. 24.


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/4/2010 11:08 PM

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You would probably be hard-pressed to find anyone in the state who has duplicated what Ken Grams has done for the past 45 years.

Since the summer of 1966 when Elk Grove High School opened its doors, Grams has been the announcer for every home football game.

Grams is also a Hall of Fame softball coach, who took over the Grenadiers program in 1982 when his team took second place in the Class AA states finals.

This spring, Gram's Grens were in the state finals for the first time since that first season.

Because of inclement weather in East Peoria, his team never went through the trophy and medallion ceremony as an acknowledgement of their performance in the state series (they were awarded the third-place trophy).

The Elk Grove administration determined that the girls should be acknowledged in some manner when school started in the fall. On Sept. 24, the school honored the softball accomplishment at halftime of the Grenadiers' football game against Buffalo Grove.

Shortly after the pompon squad and marching band were introduced, Grams went down to the field (on the track at the 50-yard line) and joined his players from the 2009 softball team and their parents along with the principal Nancy Holman and associate principals Rick Mirro and Kate Glarner.

Mirro talked to the people in the stands about the team's accomplishments throughout the season and the trip downstate.

In the same fashion as IHSA awards ceremonies, Mirro introduced each of the Grenadiers softball coaches as they walked across a stage set up on the track.

Holman and Glarner hung medallions around each of their necks as they reached the stage.

Mirro then handed the microphone to Grams, who introduced each softball player to step forward and receive a medallion.

Fourteen of the 15 players from last year's 34-4 team attended the presentation. Four girls (Amanda Gattone, Caitlin Kronforst, Stephanie Maday, Olivia Roback) of the fifteen are now in college and three were able to make it that night.

Only all-area pitcher Stephanie Maday was unable to be there because her Eastern Illinois University softball team had games in Charleston that weekend.

After the player medallions were awarded, Mirro took the microphone and asked the girls to present the third-place trophy to the school and hand it to Dr. Holman.

It was quite fitting that Grams' team would be honored for the Grens' brilliant 2009 campaign on the football field, where he has announced more than 200 football games.

Women's volleyball

Michigan senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (Barrington) became the school's assists leader when the No. 22-ranked Wolvernines got past Iowa, 25-11, 28-26, 25-11, in their Big Ten opener at the Cliff Keen Arena.

With 36 assists, Zimmerman has 5,084 career assists. She broke the mark of 5,072 held since 1997 by Linnea Mendoza (1994-97).

Mendoza and Zimmerman are the only Wolverines to eclipse 5,000 in a career.

Zimmerman snapped the record on Molly Toon's kill to tie the second set at 24-24. In that match, Zimmerman recorded the 50th double-double of her career. She had 11 digs.

• Altrese Hawkins (Hoffman Estates) hit .529 with 21 kills as Memphis withstood a determined effort by East Carolina to come away with a 3-1 victory at ECU's Minges Coliseum. The Tigers (11-5, 2-2 Conference USA)hit a robust .336 for the match.

Women's softball

Washington University (St. Louis) has been recognized by the National Fast-Pitch Coaches Association (NFCA) for having the highest grade-point average among all NCAA Division III teams for the 2009-10 academic year.

The team posted a cumulative GPA of 3.549 last year, to take the top spot among Division III programs.

Former all-area pitcher Claire Voris (Barrington) was one of eight student-athletes from Washington who earned the Girls Got Game/NFCA Scholar-Athlete Award.

Washington was 37-11 in the 2010 season, placing third at the 2010 NCAA Division III central regional. The 37 wins tie for the second most in school history.

"What a tremendous honor," said Washington coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté. "These young ladies have demonstrated the uncanny ability to achieve academic excellence while navigating the rigorous academic demands placed on students here at Washington University.

"Whether they are in the classroom or on the softball diamond, their work ethic is tremendous. I am very proud of all the young ladies that have been a part of this softball program and their commitment to academic excellence while here at Washington University. This award is a true testament to the level of excellence that these young ladies have set for themselves."


After suffering a loss to three time national champion Penn State in last season's national finals, Army opened this season with a 25-15 victory over No. 5-ranked Navy.

The Black Knights return 12 starters from last season's semifinalist, including fly half Cadet Sergeant Kaitlyn Kelly (St. Viator) who helped lead the charge.

Navy jumped to a 5-point lead in the first half and the lead changed hands several times until the second half when Kelly, breaking three tackles, scored from 25 yards out to give Army the lead for good.

Men's cross country

North Central College maintained its No. 1 ranking in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division III national coaches poll.

The Cardinals amassed 280 points in the Week 3 rankings, securing all 8 first-place votes as the top five remained unchanged from a week ago.

Five North Central runners placed in the top 20 at the Illinois Intercollegiates championship, including Michael Spain (Schaumburg), who captured the individual title after finishing the 8,000-meter race in 24:23.

Feeder basketball

Tryouts for the Prospect Girls Lady Knights feeder program (fourth through eighth grade) will be Wednesday, Nov 3, at St. Mark Lutheran Church; Saturday, Nov 6, at Prospect High School; and Sunday, Nov. 7, at Prospect. Forms can be found at For more information, contact Kevin Crawford at