For Burlington Central softball coach Wade Maisto, family comes before sports.
Maisto was not in attendance Saturday as Central (23-9) won a thriller against Kaneland, 6-5, in the IHSA Class 3A Burlington Central Regional championship game. Instead, he was at daughter Jordan's graduation from Elmhurst College. Jordan graduated with an exercise science degree.
While Wade Maisto was away, another daughter, Erica, expanded her assistant coaching duties for the Rockets, along with fellow Central assistant Lowell Oranger.
Wade Maisto recognized the potential conflict with a regional championship game for the Rockets weeks ago but hoped bad weather or some other conflict might cause the game to be rescheduled. He wasn't about to ask the game be rescheduled on his account, though.
“You can't reschedule a game for one person, so I didn't even ask [athletic director Steve Diversey] about it,” Wade Maisto said.
The 22-year coaching veteran at the varsity level had not missed a game until Saturday. However, he said he and his staff try to coach their athletes so they can function, even without their leader present. He cited the widely known quote, “Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime."
“I told the kids [they] don't need to be great, just be who they are. If they do that, they'll win,” he said.
Wade Maisto had discussed a game plan with the assistant coaches but ultimately told them to go with what they knew. At the graduation ceremony, he didn't want to know what was going on in the game.
“It was easier for me not to know. … I had total confidence in them,” he said.
With the win, Central is set to face Sterling (27-8) in a Marengo Sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. today. Sterling has won three consecutive regional titles for the first time in program history after defeating Rock Falls on Saturday.
“[We] feel good about Sterling," Wade Maisto said. "We played them two weeks ago, and lost in extras. …Both teams are really good softball teams, and it's just a matter of who plays better [today]."
St. Charles showdown in the offing?: No. 3 seed St. Charles East and fourth-seeded St. Charles North could meet in Saturday's 4A Bartlett Sectional championship game, though both teams have serious obstacles in their paths this week.
North will face top-seeded Glenbard North in today's sectional semifinal while East must get past No. 2 seed Conant in the other semifinal Wednesday.
East and North won by identical 5-2 scores in their respective regional finals on Saturday despite both teams facing early deficits. The North Stars knocked off Bartlett, while the Saints eliminated Elk Grove.
Saints coach Kelly Horan said a high degree of difficulty is to be expected in the postseason.
"Yeah, it's difficult, but you have to show up every, single day," Horan said. "Whether we're going to play a team that has 16 wins or has 30, which is probably who we'd be matched up with here the rest of the way, you've got to play your great, best, wonderful game. We did [on Saturday], and I'm pretty happy with the kids about that."
East and North split their two regular season meetings, with the Saints edging the North Stars for the Upstate Eight Conference River title.
Third time the charm?: St. Francis faces Montini in today's 3A Glenbard South Sectional semifinal in hopes of turning the tables on the Broncos. Montini beat St. Francis twice this season en route to winning the Suburban Christian Conference Blue title.
Montini had a much less stressful path to today's game. The Broncos rolled to a five-inning, 10-0 win against Riverside-Brookfield at Saturday's Aurora Central Catholic Regional final, while host St. Francis survived a wild, 11-10 slugfest against Evergreen Park.