Some basketball players are born with a hoop and gym shoes in their hands.
Chrissy Heine sure was.
The last of Don and Nancy Heine's three daughters, Hampshire senior Chrissy Heine was born into a basketball family that had its roots with her dad, a 1974 graduate of the school who was a star player on several of former coach Jim Root's best teams.
So it only figured that when Don and Nancy started having children that basketball would be in their blood.
Chrissy's older sisters, Jackie and Missy, both played for the Whip-Purs and Jackie, the Honorary Tri-Captain of the 2003-04 Daily Herald All-Area team, went on to a successful hoops career at Saint Xavier University, where she was a graduate assistant coach this year and the same place Chrissy will maturate to this fall.
"She's a self-made player who truly enjoys playing basketball," says Hampshire coach Sue Ellett of Chrissy. "She has a lot of comfort on the court and she plays hard every night."
This season, Heine averaged 13.7 points and 6 rebounds for a Hampshire team that finished 29-2 and advanced to a Class 3A sectional final. She closes her career as one of Hampshire's all-time leading scorers with 1,279 career points. She also had 741 career rebounds and started in all 113 games she played for the Whip-Purs.
For her efforts this season, Heine has been selected the Honorary Co-Captain of the Daily Herald's All-Area team, an honor she shares with Bartlett junior Jacki Gulczynski. Heine also becomes the sixth Hampshire player to earn the award, following Stephanie Smith, Rachel Markham, Jackie Heine, Nicole Watzlawick and Amanda Walker.
What Heine brought to the Whip-Purs' program is a rare blend of size, quickness and basketball smarts. At 6-foot-1 she was a natural inside force who also learned to take her game outside when necessary. Defensively, her long wing span accounted for many opponents turnovers, as witnessed by her team-leading 85 steals this season and 270 in her career. She also distributed the ball, leading the team with 105 assists this season and dishing out 319 in her career.
In her four years at Hampshire, the Whip-Purs went 89-26 and won three conference championships and two regional titles.
"Her basketball IQ really improved this year," Ellett said. "She noticed where mismatches were and who to get the ball to."
Heine was also a tireless worker, playing all 32 minutes whenever needed.
"Her conditioning really improved," Ellett said. "Early on I didn't know if I could get 32 minutes out of her but she proved I could. She could play all five positions and she was willing to get 10 assists and not score or move inside and score. She's not lightning quick but she still got steals and made kids uncomfortable. She anticipated real well."
Above all, Heine was the consummate teammate.
"I just wanted to make sure we stayed together," said Heine of her leadership role on this year's team. "You can't do it alone. You get so much more done as a team."
Heine, Cassie Dumoulin and Bridget Dumoulin were the only seniors on Hampshire's team this season, but Heine knew they could be a good example to the younger players on the squad.
"Growing up with Cassie and Bridget, we knew each other so well," Heine said. "The sophomores and juniors came up and we bonded. We put a lot of faith in each other. I wanted to be a good leader and be someone who helped keep everyone together. It was nice that everyone was on the same page and that we all worked together."
Heine started playing travel basketball in the fourth grade with the Cyclones, then with a team called the Winning Edge and most recently with Jim Cook's Illinois Team USA. But it was at an even younger age she became a basketball junkie.
"I guess you could say I was born with a basketball," Heine laughed. "Through all of my family, and even on my mom's side the guys played basketball. My dad took me to all the camps when I was young and that made me more fundamentally sound."
Heine, who will compete for the track and field team at Hampshire this spring after being a part of the volleyball team this past fall, says that more than anything this season her defense improved.
"We always were told that defense wins and we did a whole bunch of drills this year that helped me a better defensive player," she said.
Ellett says basketball is Heine's "comfort zone".
"When the ball goes up Chrissy flips a switch," said Ellett. "She's a very shy kid and not one into being the most popular or being around the big social scene. She's very nice and she always brought the younger kids along in a nurturing way. She leads by example."
Heine sends her thanks to her family and coaches.
"My coaches throughout the years and my family both pushed me to be who I am right now," said Heine, who carries a 3.75 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society and German Club and who is interested in studying physical therapy as well as the culinary arts.
"They opened my eyes to everything and always told me to be the best I can be. I also have to thank the fans and the community that have always come to support us."
A school and a community that will have a void without a Heine on the basketball court for the first time in 10 years.
"It will be a strange thing to go to Hampshire basketball next year and not see the Heine name on the scoreboard," said Ellett. "All three have been a pleasure to coach. Don is a very strong-willed man who demanded a lot out of his daughters and all three will be successful with whatever they choose to do."
This last one sure has, and it's a safe bet she will continue to be so.
Captains Honor Roll
1995-96 - Melissa Parker and Leslie Schock (Elgin)
1996-97 - Tina Wenckaitis (Elgin)
1997-98 - Billee Russell (Dundee-Crown)
1998-99 - Rita Castans (Streamwood) and Stephanie Smith (Hampshire)
1999-00 - Stephanie Smith (Hampshire) and Chris Rodriguez (Burlington Central)
2000-01 - Kelly Hopkins (St. Edward) and Melissa Tarrant (Dundee-Crown)
2001-02 - Katie Grens (Elgin) and Rachel Markham (Hampshire)
2002-03 - Jenna Real (Burlington Central) and Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett)
2003-04 - Jackie Heine (Hampshire), Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett), Nicole Watzlawick (Hampshire)
2004-05 - Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett) and Amanda Walker (Hampshire)
2005-06 - Kaci Baird (Bartlett) and Brittney Daum (Dundee-Crown)
2006-07 - Katie Chambers (St. Edward) and Meaghan Staley-Gamble (Huntley)
2007-08 - Katie Yohn (St. Edward) and Danielle Smith (Cary-Grove)
2008-09 - Katie Yohn (St. Edward)
2009-10 - Jacki Gulczynski (Bartlett) and Chrissy Heine (Hampshire)