Friar fanatic lends Fenwick his support
Fenwick's Ian Murdoch (13) and Joseph Scorpio (15) celebrate Murdoch's goal during the third period of Friday's Blackhawk Cup game against Naperville North. Naperville North won the game, 3-2. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 10:10AM
Whenever the Fenwick hockey club needs an extra prayer, it knows it can count on the Rev. Michael Winkels.
That’s not all he provides for the Friars.
“I can knock a few heads in the penalty box,” Winkels joked.
Winkels is a longtime follower of the hockey club. He keeps score at home games and has missed just a couple games all season, including trips with the squad to New York, Indianapolis and Milwaukee as a chaperon.
He either sits on the bench or in the penalty box during games.
“If somebody on our team takes a bad penalty, he’s not afraid to let you know,” Fenwick senior team manager Justin Kraft said. “If someone is talking back to a ref, he’s not afraid to tell you to shut your mouth.”
Winkels serves as the team’s moderator, communicating between the school and the hockey club, since hockey is not an official Illinois High School Association sport.
“I started going to games with another Dominican brother, who was involved with Fenwick hockey when I moved to Fenwick 11 or 12 years ago,” Winkels said. “He moved to Albuquerque, and I just continued working with the hockey club. I act as an unofficial connection to the school for the hockey team.”
The players have embraced Winkels’ involvement with the program.
Sophomore backup goalie Pino Barker got to know the team’s “biggest fan” this season.
“We love having him there,” Barker said. “He’s always cheering us on. He teaches us that we have to skate hard and still keep our composure. He definitely gets into the game. He’s always tries to keep our heads up and tell us what we should be doing. He’s a really kind, caring person. He’s down to earth, is funny and very competitive.”
Winkels has enjoyed the strong season Fenwick (39-12-5) has had this year. The Friars defeated Providence in the semifinals of the best-of-three Kennedy Cup and advanced to face Benet in the finals.
Winkels’ passion for hockey goes back to his youth in Minnesota.
“I lived in southern Minnesota and surprisingly there were no hockey rinks where I lived,” Winkels said. “I skated outdoors, but that’s about it. I love hockey.”
Winkels, who leads the team in praying a Hail Mary before every game, teaches technology and art at Fenwick.
“He’s a great guy,” Kraft said. “I’ve had the privilege of having him as a teacher for art class for two years. That was a lot of fun. He cares about his students.”
His most treasured moments are the back-to-back state championships Fenwick won in 2002-03 at the United Center.
“They have fine young men playing for Fenwick. It’s just a treat to go and support them and meet their families,” Winkels said. “I enjoy it. I think the kids enjoy having a faculty member take an interest in an extracurricular activity and say a few prayers here and there. I also have several kids in my class, so I keep an eye on their grades and remind them that they’re primarily here to learn.”