Trekking overseas for a rugby trip inspired Wes Pasholk to sprout a beard.
He was prohibited from growing one during St. Charles North’s wrestling season, and the whiskers seemed like something fit for football.
When Pasholk returned from the United Kingdom with a team of all-state Illinois rugby players, he recalls North defensive line coach Chip McPheeters joking about the wisdom of people with beards. While Pasholk doesn’t know about any of that yet, he’ll at least take the look as a window into the best part of his summer vacation.
“I kind of missed the football and all that,” said Pasholk, a senior, “but it was the time of my life.”
Pasholk missed the North Stars’ Aug. 24 season opener because he had not logged enough practice time. St. Charles East lineman Ian Crawford experienced the same fate after joining Pasholk and recent North graduate Dan Miller as the St. Charles-based Predator Rugby Club’s contingent in Europe.
The Illinois team traveled through England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, playing six games in August.
Players absorbed what they could of the countryside and tourist attractions, and were especially glad to head through London amid the Summer Olympics hoopla.
Turned out their own results weren’t a sight for sore eyes, either. Pasholk and Co. couldn’t be sure how they’d fare against rugby’s native sons.
“It’s definitely a whole step above,” Pasholk said. “We’re lucky the team that I played on, all the kids are pretty good. So we played some good rugby out there.”
Shortly after coming home, Pasholk was optimistic about saying the same about his North Stars teammates. He didn’t dress for the team’s opener at Hinsdale Central – he doesn’t count jersey top and jeans – but thought the North Stars gave more effort than their 30-0 loss would indicate.
A 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive lineman, Pasholk also has had practice reps at left guard. He wrestled 10 pounds lighter as a junior, and traditionally puts on more weight for football season before cutting in the winter.
Like a well-rounded European, Pasholk realizes he should have options for competing in college. For now, he’s content to stroke his whiskers over the possibilities.
“Still kind of early on in the game,” he said. “I’m hoping to get a scholarship if I can. Any real chance they’d give me at anything, I’d do it.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.