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Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: XXXXXL love coming Tuesday for Richards swimming coach

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

 

PAGE 1 RICHARDS SWIMMING with JV COL

 

Supplied photo

Richards swim coach Joel Staszewski, who joined a JV team in the pool after a meet last season, has gone through some serious health issues this summer and area swim teams are rallying around to help him and his family.

 

The 2016-17 area high school sports season is in its infancy and already I am writing a column I hate.

And love.

I love the fact that away from the pool, some high school swimmers are doing something special. I hate the reason they have to do it.

Richards’ swimming and water polo coach, Joel Staszewski, fell ill during the summer and according to school officials, the guy nearly died and has been unable to eat normally.

I met the coach once, when Richards’ girls water polo team was playing in the postseason at Lyons Township in May. I talked with him for a few minutes and he was helpful and funny. The people in the Richards community have known him a lot longer and probably have a million great stories about him.

And his popularity extended outside the Richards’ family. Opponents want to see the man most people know as “Coach Stu” back on his feet and onto the deck of a swimming pool near you.

On Tuesday, the Bulldogs swimming team will host a meet with at 5 p.m. in Oak Lawn with Argo and Oak Forest coming to town. It will be a special night to help the Staszewski family. Coach Stu’s wife, Jill, is scheduled to be there as well.

Cora Umecker, who is filling in for coach Stu, said members of her family will sell lemonade at the event with the proceeds going to the family. Shirts that go all the way up to XXXXXL will be sold throughout the season with profits also helping the family.

Umecker said she appreciates what some of the other schools in the South Suburban Conference have done already.

“The Argo program has reached out to ask what they can do to help,” Umecker said. “Their girls swim team donated money to be spent getting a meal together for Stu’s family via the Meal Train link. They have been so supportive. They’ve been great.

“We had a coaches meeting at Evergreen Park with all of the swim coaches in the conference and their athletic directors. The first thing they wanted to talk about was what they could do to help Stu’s family. They decided that at the conference meet, they will run a split the pot fundraiser and give the money to Stu’s family.

“Also, a portion of the proceeds from the conference shirt that they sell at that meet will also be donated to him,’’ she continued. “I could not thank them enough. They asked me to keep all of them informed of anything being done for his benefit. They were all concerned, supportive, very wonderful people to work with. How awesome is it that the swim community is rallying around Stu and his family.’’

So far, coach Stu, the father of young triplets, is in bad shape. Umecker said that he recently started a liquid diet with ice.

“That was huge considering he hadn’t eaten anything since June 6,” she said. “It was looking as though he would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility within the next week or so. Unfortunately, he had to be taken for another procedure because the food he took in was ending up in the drain.

“So they had to replace the feeding tube and adjust the stent. We're hoping this was the last bump and that he will be on his way to rehab soon. I’m hoping he can attend a later meet or even the conference meet.”

If that happens, it will even be a more thrilling and emotional event than what’s going to happen Tuesday at the Oak Lawn school.

That is a column I would love to write.

Supplied photo

Richards swim coach Joel Staszewski, who joined a JV team in the pool after a meet last season, has gone through some serious health issues this summer and area swim teams are rallying around to help him and his family.