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On Campus

Jacobs: Elmhurst’s McMahon learns to love basketball

As a high school sophomore, Fiona McMahon of St. Charles wasn’t sure she even wanted to play basketball. As a college sophomore, she can’t imagine not playing the sport.

McMahon didn’t play basketball at St. Francis High School in Wheaton as a freshman. With some encouragement from friends, she went out for the sport as a sophomore, but admits she didn’t take it all that seriously at first.

“I would have never thought I would play college basketball,” she says.

By the time she graduated, she had developed a commitment to the sport. As a senior, the 6-1 forward averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game and was named first-team all-conference by the Suburban Christian Conference. Her play drew the attention of coaches from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

“I was looking at a couple different schools in the conference,” McMahon recalls, including North Park and Carthage, but a visit to Elmhurst convinced her to become a Bluejay. 

“My brother [Brian] also played soccer here,” she notes. “He was a senior when I was a freshman.”

McMahon says she’s happy with the choice she made.

“I love it so far,” she says. “I love the team and the coaches.”

The coaches have loved McMahon’s play and improvement. As a freshman, she averaged six points and six rebounds a game coming off the bench. This year, she has moved into the starting lineup, and is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds a contest.

“I think it’s progressing pretty well,” she said. “I have things I need to work on, obviously. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to grow as a player and help my team. … I’m just working on being a strong all-around player.”

McMahon scored 22 points in just 16 minutes of action in a lopsided season-opening victory against Dominican. After winning their first two games, the Bluejays have dropped a pair.

“I definitely think we could be 4-0 right now,” McMahon says. “The past two games were [against] pretty good teams that were ranked. We just didn’t do the little things that we needed to walk away with the win.”

Elmhurst was 16-9 overall last season, including 7-7 in league play. The Bluejays were picked to finish fourth in a preseason poll of conference coaches this season.

“We definitely want to make it to the CCIW tournament and keep going from there,” McMahon says.

The coaches tabbed defending NCAA Division III national champions Illinois Wesleyan as the league favorite. McMahon scored a season-high 17 points and grabbed eight boards in a game against the Titans last season.

Still standing: Led by 23 kills from junior Lauren Wicinski of Geneva and 26 assists from St. Francis grad Kristen Kelsay, Michigan State advanced to the sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball national championship tournament by upsetting defending national champion UCLA on Saturday, 3-1. The Spartans face in-state rival Michigan on Friday night. They lost to the Wolverines in three sets in their last meeting, Nov. 21. 

• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To submit information on area athletes participating in college sports, email him at

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