Girls Volleyball: Plainfield North’s Kate Federico draws on inspiration
By Phil Brozynski For Sun-Times Media September 24, 2013 8:58PM
Plainfield North's Kate Federico | File photo
Updated: September 24, 2013 9:47PM
Plainfield North’s Kate Federico is a dynamic player, a tenacious competitor, an outspoken leader and, not too unlike other girls who follow their mothers into sports, credits her mom for her success.
“My mom taught me everything I know about volleyball,” Federico said.
Two years after her death at age 44 following a battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a disease that affects the blood and bone marrow, Christine Rehor Federico continues to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for her daughter.
Rehor Federico played at Downers Grove North and Illinois State, where she holds the career record for kills. She’s is the only player in Missouri Valley Conference history to lead conference in kills, digs, aces and hitting percentage in the same season.
An Illinois State Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, Rehor Federico also played pro beach volleyball before returning to coach at Sports Performance, where she was turned away as a player her freshman year in high school.
“She tried out for our program and I cut her, which is shows how stupid I was at the time,” Sports Performance director Rick Butler said. “She took the cut, but came back the next year and made it. A lot of kids wouldn’t do that.
“She was a 5-foot-6, 5-7 outside hitter, but she jumped really well and had great speed,” he added. (Former Illinois State and Wisconsin coach) Pete Waite and I were talking after she passed. If there had been a libero at that time, she would have been a world-class libero.”
Sports Performance named an award after Rehor Federico. The plaque hangs in the club’s weight room.
“Kate picked up a lot of things from her mom,” Butler said. “If you’re at the club on a regular basis like Kate is during the season, she sees her mom’s name almost every day. She’s got a good compass to guide her.”
Federico shares many of the lessons she learned from her mother with her teammates and the younger players in the Plainfield North program.
“Kate’s very caring about her teammates as well as the entire program,” Plainfield North coach Tracey Marshall said. “She’s always working with the younger group. Teaching them skills. She’s taken it upon herself to really make sure she’s leaving a legacy throughout the program.”
Not unlike the legacy her mother left.
“Her mother’s there all the time in the back of her mind,” Marshall said. “She wears her mom’s name every single day. It’s her ultimate goal to make her proud in every capacity that she can, and I know that’s something she carries with her.”
Her mother’s loss still is difficult to bear at times. Butler said for a while Federico was “lost in the wilderness.” But she has found support and strength from those around her.
“I have a real strong support system — my team, my dad and coaches — they have supported me over the past two years,” she said.
Meanwhile, Federico honors her mother by wearing a headband in every match with her mom’s nickname, “C-Fed,” inscribed on it.
“A lot of my mom’s former players say they see the same spark in me on the court that she had,” Federico said. “I feel like I do have that spark and that competitiveness. I always wear the headband to represent her.
“Now it’s just a matter of me making her proud in everything I do.”