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Druley: Career change reconnects Whildin with former coaches

Shane Whildin.
Shane Whildin.

A career change spurred Shane Whildin’s reconnection with former swim coaches Joe Cabel and Rob Rooney.

Now Whildin is hoping an endeavor both men have embraced can help shift a development at Speedo.

A former state champion swimmer at St. Charles High, Whildin now works as a sports marketing and team sales rep for Speedo’s midwest territory. It was his idea to donate a selection of the company’s Breaststroke 4 Hope breast cancer awareness apparel when St. Charles East visits St. Charles North in a Thursday dual. It was Cabel and Rooney’s pleasure to oblige him.

“It’s always a fun thing with the crosstown element, but yet the fact that it’s St. Charles and St. Charles, it would kind of unite toward [National Breast Cancer Awareness Month],” Whildin said. “They were on board, so we just kind of took it from there and we’ll see how it goes.”

While Cabel (East) and Rooney (North) are set to wear gray polos with the Breaststroke 4 Hope insignia, their swimmers will be outfitted with pink T-shirts and white caps, also with the cause’s logo.

Breaststroke 4 Hope, in its infant stages after a September 2012 launch, offers pink swimsuits, caps, goggles, bags and T-shirts.

In the same vein, Whildin said Thursday marks the first time the apparel will be used in a high school meet. He viewed it as a good opportunity to help frequent business partners – Cabel and Rooney also are active in the St. Charles Swim Team club scene – while benefiting breast cancer research.

Online discount coupons for Breaststroke 4 Hope merchandise will be distributed at the meet.

“We’re going to see how it goes,” Whildin said. “It’s something, I think, that has been overlooked in the past in swimming, and I think we can do more of it. Not just with St. Charles, but I think this is a good starting block to see if it takes off and be a good fundraiser for the awareness program.”

Whildin competed for four years at Missouri, and was a Tigers team captain during his junior season. He enjoyed a successful career as an assistant coach after that, moving on from the Stanford women’s program to the Wisconsin men.

Stanford never finished lower than fifth at nationals during Whildin’s six seasons there.

Now based in Madison, Wis., Whildin switched to “the business side” of swimming in 2012 to spend more time with his family. He has kept his alma mater close at hand, as well, and presented Cabel, his high school coach, to the state swimming and diving coaches assocation Hall of Fame in March.

Both Cabel and Rooney hope Thursday’s event can bring equal luster.

“We wanted to make it more about the community rather than East versus North,” Rooney said.

Nice nights on tap for Kaneland v’ball: The Kaneland girls volleyball program invites “breast cancer survivors and fighters from all over the area” to tonight’s Dig Pink breast cancer awareness night.

Those fans with breast cancer history will be admitted free and receive a gift bag and VIP badge while being announced, escorted and honored during the night. The varsity is set to face DeKalb at 6 p.m.

Thursday’s 6 p.m. match against Sycamore is Kindness Night, in which fans are asked to wear lime green to salute a kindness movement in the community. Knights sophomore McKenzie McMullen, who doubles as a guitarist, is set to perform Miranda Lambert’s “All Kinds of Kinds” as part of the festivities.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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