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Trinity standout basketball player Lauren Prochaska (center) is coaching the eighth-grade volleyball team at her alma mater, St. Francis Borgia, in Chicago. | Michael R. Schmidt/For Sun-Times Media
As a student at Trinity and a future Division I basketball player at DePaul, Lauren Prochaska keeps busy with classes and daily workouts at the high school’s fitness center to keep in playing shape.
But the Pioneer Press/The Doings Girls Basketball Player of the Year isn’t content with just being a student-athlete. In the offseason, she added coach to her list of responsibilities and is currently leading the eighth-grade girls volleyball team at her former school, St. Francis Borgia.
Prochaska competed in all sports, even cheerleading, when she attended St. Francis, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school of 215 students in the Belmont Terrace neighborhood of Chicago’s northwest side.
Prochaska coached a combined seventh- and eighth-grade girls basketball team in the fall and now is coaching the girls volleyball team for the first time. Prochaska admits that she doesn’t know nearly as much about volleyball as she does basketball, the only sport she played at Trinity.
Borgia athletic director Rick Kalin asked Prochaska over the summer if she wanted to return to coach. It’s an unpaid, volunteer position that worked around her commitment to playing basketball for the Blazers.
She brought along a friend, Kaitlin Buss, to serve as her assistant coach during the basketball season. Buss was a team manager for the Trinity basketball team and plays soccer this spring.
“It was so much fun working with Lauren and the team was so much fun to be around,” Buss said. “They learned how to be better players and better athletes. Teaching them was great. They wanted to work. I would definitely do it again. I think everybody should do it. It was such a joy.”
Sue Betzolt, the second-year principal at St. Francis, has worked on building her school’s impact in the community. Betzolt said she is encouraged by hearing about graduates such as Prochaska returning to the school.
“It’s awesome that she gives back to the kids,” Betzolt said. “The kids look up to her. She’s such a role model for our students.”
It didn’t matter to Prochaska that her basketball team didn’t win very many games during the season.
“The basketball team in previous years did well, but they told me the [current] girls were not very good. They lost many games,” Prochaska said. “You can tell how much they progressed through the season. Sure, the girls were not very good, but they were cool. Some of them would make a basket and go crazy. You can tell they do not do that very often.”