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Corwins have good year in sports

Caitlyn wins state girls basketball title; Al referees boys basketball final; Pat coaches conference volleyball titles

SHEFFIELD — It’s hard to believe any sports family in Bureau County had a better year than the Corwins of Sheffield.

Daughter Caitlyn won a state basketball championship as a member of the Annawan Bravettes coaching staff.

Father Al received his first IHSA State Boys Basketball officiating assignment.

Mother Pat guided the Bureau Valley South girls to conference championships in basketball and track and a sectional championship in track.

Mom and Dad don’t hesitate saying their daughter had the best year of the three, noting her recent marriage to Adam DeMay of Annawan, which is their proudest moment of them all.

“Neither one of us has been a grand marshal in any hometown parade like the Annawan girls were this year. In addition, Caitlyn was married in June. So, we think her year has been pretty special,” Pat said.

“It’s a great accomplishment for what we’ve done as a family. We’ve always been sports oriented and have a strong family bond between us three,” Caitlyn said.

Caitlyn comes by her interest in sports naturally with a mother who coached and a father who officiated. It brings them a sense of pride to see Caitlyn follow in mom’s footsteps.

“I am proud that Caitlyn has chosen her path of continuing with sports,” said Pat, who will begin her 35th year teaching/coaching combined between BVS and the former Western School District. “At a very young age, Caitlyn was exposed to athletics. Caitlyn would listen to us talk about different sports at the dinner table. As you can imagine, the conversations were sometimes interesting between coach and official. Caitlyn’s competitive edge probably began when she competed in tumbling, three on threes, and summer softball with her friends.”

Having Caitlyn in the teaching field is one more thing they can share as mother and daughter, Pat said. They have even taken in a few graduate classes together, and Caitlyn has taught her mom a few things about technology.

“There is always something new in our field that motivates us. We can bounce ideas off of each other and talk science and sports endlessly,” Pat said.

Al and Pat, who were high school sweethearts, had similar sports backgrounds growing up.

The former Pat Hebel grew up in a competitive household with two younger siblings. Like her husband, Pat’s father was a referee for 20 years, and she remembers sports always being on the family’s TV growing up in Peru. The family moved to Kewanee in November of 1973 where she would meet her future husband. With Title IX just coming to fruition, Pat did not get to play competitive sports until Black Hawk East, where she competed in volleyball and basketball.

Al, who is the chief technologist at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, played in various golf tournaments beginning at age 8. At Wethersfield, he played football four years with some golf, basketball and track. He played both basketball and golf at Black Hawk East, before transferring to Illinois State University where he walked onto the golf team.

He has had a long, successful career in stripes, adding his first state hoops assignment to two in football (2007 and 2011). He’s also officiated volleyball and track.

Caitlyn played volleyball, basketball and ran track at Bureau Valley, graduating in 2005. She landed at Annawan after receiving a bachelor’s of science degree in education from ISU following a volleyball stint at Black Hawk East.

She has one regional championship in volleyball under her belt (2010) and has coached the Annawan F/S girls to three straight undefeated conference championships, laying the foundation for this year’s state championship.

“Growing up with the sports in the family, we talk sports all the time with the officials side and the coach’s side. We always have great respect for the officials and what they call on the floor,” Caitlyn said. “(I appreciate the way) they raised me and gave me a great background. I’m very proud of them and their accomplishments, too.”

The Corwins have been close followers of their daughter’s teams at Annawan, going back to the days when the girls were in junior high.

“Certainly, we are thrilled that she was able to play a part in that dynamic program,” they said.

As a family, the Corwins believe that athletic success is a direct result of the people that surround them, both as an athlete and as a coach.

“The athletes, parents, administrators and colleagues are a vital part of anyone’s success,” Pat said. “Many past and present coaches have influenced our lives in many ways. Caitlyn respects coaches she had at Bureau Valley throughout her school years and at Annawan. She still reaches out to Coach (Vicki) Litherland for some volleyball tips now and then.”

Caitlyn and Pat will soon be getting their volleyball teams ready to play, and Al will put on his stripes for another season officiating football. It’s the way of life for the Corwins, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.

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