Athletic Alumni: Remembering 2010 Boy’s Bowling

Jack Leach, Sports Editor

Friday, December 11, 2009.

A day that will never be forgotten throughout South’s history.

“The loss was tough to face,” former Cougar Bryan Tomac said. “High school is already hard enough without tragedy slapping you in face.”

The team, along with Tomac, were told that senior teammate and admired peer, Eric Brander, suddenly passed away.

Early that morning, Brander was involved in a two-car collision on County Line Road, resulting to his death.

“It was as difficult of a day as you could imagine, because Eric was the most selfless kid you’ll ever meet,” former assistant coach Derek Christensen said. “He always put everybody above himself, and all he cared about was how the team was doing from not only from a bowling aspect, but personally.”

Brander’s view on life, and the support for his teammates, motivated the Cougars moving forward.

“We all met in the library, and decided what we wanted to do,” former Cougar Calvin Hendrickson said. “We had a [bowling] tournament scheduled for the next day, which left us very little time to grieve. We decided, as a team, that we’d participate, because we thought that’s what Eric would’ve wanted us to do.”

The following day, the Cougars broke a District 202 record scoring 6,300 total points in six games, along with a second-place finish in the Lincoln-Way East Invite that included some of the best competition in state. The winner, Lockport, gave South the winning plaque in Brander’s honor.

“After that, we all came together with a special bond,” Tomac said. “We needed to make that season something special, because we were capable of doing that.”
According to Tomac, the team realized that they were capable of achieving something special ever since their freshmen year.

“Our former coach, Tony Talley, gave us all sheets of paper and told us to write three goals on them,” Tomac said. “Most of us had written down individual accomplishments; he was irate that none of us mentioned anything about winning a state championship. It was at that moment, he gave us an insight on how important the team aspect of the game was, and from then on, we’ve always had our eyes set on winning a state championship.”

According to Christensen, the way the Cougars finished was nothing short of “unbelievable”.

“That state tournament was the only tournament that we won all season,” Christensen said. “We just got hot at the right time, and finally put it together at the end.”

The boys finally fulfilled Talley’s team goal set in 2006, and won solely from their championship mentalities.

“I’ve coached other teams, and I’ve coached other sports, but those were the most competitive kids I’ve ever been around,” Christensen said. “They hated losing more than they enjoyed winning.”
That 2010 championship marked the first state championship won in District 202 history, and the first (and only) state championship won in South history.

“Everything about coming together made it such an unforgettable experience,” Hendrickson said. “I remember one moment after we won state, we were all lined up on the lanes to receive the trophy and Coach Kontos told us to all take a moment to take in, because we would remember this for the rest of our lives.”