Fahlstrom Hall Was a Big Hit in DePaul Volleyball
CHICAGO - Somehow, nobody figured out Wendy Fahlstrom Hall's painful secret.
The DePaul volleyball standout tore the rotator cuff in her right shoulder halfway through her senior year in 1993---and didn't tell a soul about it.
All of which makes it pretty amazing that Fahlstrom continued to play so well that she led the Blue Demons to the Great Midwest Conference championship and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"I played in pain, and there was a tingling in my arm," Fahlstrom said. "I was a right-side hitter and was always extending that shoulder.
"I didn't tell my coach, Anna Marie Marassa. I didn't tell anyone. I wanted to finish what I had started."
After all the postseason accolades and accomplishments---including the volleyball program's first appearance in the NCAA tournament---Fahlstrom finally confided in her coach.
"Her reaction was: 'I wouldn't have expected anything less of you,'" Fahlstrom said. "She was tough and demanding, but in a good way, and she got the most out of her athletes."
Fahlstrom will be recognized for maximizing her talent on Saturday when she is inducted into the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame.
"When I found out about being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I started to cry," Fahlstrom said. "It's pretty fantastic. It's unbelievable."
Those would be apt descriptions of her career at DePaul.
During all four of her years in Lincoln Park, the Blue Demons finished first or second in the Great Midwest Conference tournament. She was named all-tournament at every event she competed in her senior year.
Fahlstrom was the Preseason and Postseason Player of the Year in the Great Midwest as a senior and was Player of the Week eight times.
Fahlstrom & Co. became the first DePaul team other than basketball to compete in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Demons fell to Florida State in the opening round.
"I didn't think I was the best athlete in the gym, but I would work harder than anyone else in the gym and become the best," Fahlstrom said. "I would find a way to outsmart and outwork more talented athletes.
That work ethic enabled her to persevere during the most demanding time of her life.
Fahlstrom worked as the athletic director and coach at St. Athanasius elementary school in Evanston, across the street from Northwestern's Ryan Field, from 1997-2004.
At the same time, she coached a women's volleyball team at Kendall College in Evanston. Adding to her multi-tasking, Fahlstrom attended graduate school at DePaul working towards her Master's degree in Education.
"When you play a college sport, it prepares you for anything," she said. "I really loved coaching, but financially that wasn't going to be enough. I just didn't want to give up being involved with volleyball.
"Anna Marie and Jeanne (DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto) are the main reasons why I chose DePaul over Syracuse, Washington State, USF, Wichita State, Montana, SIU, Illinois State and UIC.
"Those two were so invested in you, the team, the university. They made it easy to work hard. If you wanted it bad enough, they wanted it for you."
Memories came rushing back as Fahlstrom talked about former teammates such as Hall-of-Famer Sue Fogarty, Dawn Gura, Michelle Vonderheide, Sue Wronski, Terri Kaspar and her closest friend, Sheila Carroll.
She remembered while battling for the NCAA berth, DePaul Director of Marketing Karen Loiacono slipped her a piece of paper as Fahlstrom was boarding the team bus.
The note said: "I know you can do it."
"That was so heartfelt," Fahlstrom said about Loiacono's gesture. "I loved being here, and it felt like the city was mine.
"When people say that DePaul is all about family, that is so true. We all had connections with each other, and still do to this day.
"I'm so excited about coming back to campus for the Hall-of-Fame banquet and seeing everyone again."