Loras College won only one football game last season. But that fact didn’t deter Liam Kirwan when he was looking for a new college home.
“I see a bright future,” said Kirwan, a Marian Central graduate who spent a redshirt season a year ago at NCAA Division II St. Cloud (Minn.) State. “You have the opportunity to make a big impact. I want to help put that first brick on the building.”
Kirwan, a defensive tackle who considered five Division III schools, said he was encouraged by plenty of spirit on the school’s Dubuque, Iowa, campus, impressive facilities and especially the attitude of first-year head coach Steve Helminiak.
“He’s a grade-A guy,” Kirwan said. “You hear the term, ‘player’s coach,’ and we have a whole staff of them.”
Kirwan and his new teammates, which include 56 freshmen, opened fall camp Thursday in preparation for Loras’ season-opening home game Sept. 6 against Elmhurst College.
For Kirwan, driving 2 ½ hours from Woodstock to Loras was a welcome change to the seven-hour, one-way journey to St. Cloud.
While redshirting last season, Kirwan played on the scout team last season during St. Cloud’s 12-2 season, which ended in the national quarterfinals.
“I made a lot of great friends there that I hated to leave, but it wasn’t the right fit for me,” Kirwan said.
He said like many college students, he struggled with homesickness during the first semester.
“I never got rid of that homesick feeling in the second semester either,” he said.
The 6-foot, 270-pound Kirwan also considered Aurora University, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin-Platteville and North Central College.
At Loras, Kirwan will be around two people who will make Dubuque feeling like McHenry County – his girlfriend Tara Blake, a Loras volleyball player, and his former Marian football teammate J.P. Awe, a junior linebacker for the Duhawks.
When he had questions about the school, he asked Blake. Kirwan’s resource for football questions was Awe.
“To have two trustworthy people who care about you (to lean on), I couldn’t ask for more than that,” he said.
Posey helps Steamers: Cary-Grove grad Alex Posey helped the Edenton (N.C) Steamers baseball team of the Coastal Plain League win the first-half East Division title this summer and qualify for the playoffs.
A right-handed pitcher from UIC, Posey was 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 18 appearances out of the Edenton bullpen. He struck out 18 batters in 15 2/3 innings, while opposing hitters batted .220 against Posey.
Edenton started the season 19-4 on its way to the first-half division title. The team lost a first-round playoff series, 2-0, to Wilson by dropping a pair of one-run games in the best-of-three series.
Golf scholar Hyland: Prairie Ridge grad Brad Hyland was selected in July as a 2014 Golf Coaches Association of America All-America Scholar. Hyland, who was a senior last season at Carthage College, was one of 46 NCAA Division III players recognized by the GCAA.
Hyland had a team-best scoring average of 74.7 last season while placing fifth in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament, earning all-conference honors.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.