Black and gold are not Rosary’s colors, but expect plenty of the school’s supporters to shift wardrobe color schemes in the months to come.
The new look is in tribute to Rosary graduate Kylie Schalz, now a college softball player at black-and-gold clad Oakland University (Mich.).
Schalz was released in late August from Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she spent more than two months making dramatic headway after losing movement and most feeling in her legs when a surgery intended to correct her scoliosis went awry.
Kylie still has a busy slate of outpatient therapy on her docket, which is why she was not able to attend a ceremony on Tuesday before Rosary’s first swimming meet of the season.
Her dad, Bill Schalz, is coach of Rosary’s elite swimming program, and he was witness to quite a season-opening display.
The Beads are dedicating their season to Kylie – a former multisport standout at Rosary – and set the tone by coming out for their first meet parading around the pool deck in special T-shirts that are for sale to help the family with ongoing medical costs.
Rosary athletic director Mary Lou Kunold said the front of the black and gold shirt displays Kylie’s softball No. 23 with a message “Kylie, this one’s for you.” On the back, the shirt reads, “Beads 2011.”
“It was kind of emotional to see the kids looking like that in support for their coach,” Kunold said. “It was very cool.”
Kunold said the shirt will be for sale on the Rosary website for $20, with the funds going toward the Kylie Schalz Foundation. The fundraiser was somewhat complicated by Kylie’s status as a student-athlete.
“She can’t accept money because of NCAA rules so that’s why a trust or a scholarship is being created for this,” Kunold said.
According to the most recent journal entry from Bill Schalz at caringbridge.org, Kylie is wearing orthotics on her lower legs for stability, and with the aid of a walker or forearm crutches, her walking distances are on the rise.
That she’s walking at all is a sensational development considering the initial uncertainty after her June 8 surgery.
A ramp and a few other new touches at the Schalz home were installed to allow Kylie to make a successful transition home, with plans for an eventual return to college.
Naturally, the swimming program has taken the lead, but other arms of the school also will show their support. Kunold said Rosary’s volleyball program will switch gears from its usual breast cancer fundraiser night to a “Kills for Kylie” fundraiser at its Oct. 3 home match against Montini.
Kunold said she anticipates Bill Schalz will be able to handle his coaching duties this fall and Kylie’s mom, Robin, is back to work as Kunold’s assistant at the school.
“Anything that comes up they need to take care of, everyone steps up, and we have things covered,” Kunold said.
Plenty of people around Rosary are prepared to show their true colors. For now, black and gold are in vogue.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.