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Making quite an impression Pitch-perfect Phillips serves as a vocal leader — and reliable defender — for LA soccer team BY BILL MCLEAN, SPORTS@NORTHSHOREWEEKEND.COM


he Rambler with a thousand voices — a slight exaggeration — used the one he was born with after a soccer match earlier this month. Senior left back Luke Phillips and his Loyola Academy teammates had lost 4-0 to visiting New Trier on Sept.

cousin, Daniel [a Hersey High School graduate and a sophomore at the University of Illinois],” said Phillips, the play-by-play voice of Rambler Radio for LA football and basketball games. “Close your eyes and listen to him, and you’d swear you’re in the same room as the person he’s imitating. It all started with the two of us mimicking movie lines. Daniel is quite a char[Luke’s] mentality acter — and one of my role models. He’s like a brother to I’m in touch with him at from the end of last me. least once a week.” showed deft touch year to now … he’s a in Phillips the match against New trapping a zippy sechungrier kid, always Trier, ond-half pass near midfield and quickly distributing the wanting to improve. ball to junior midfielder Collin Leider. Later, back on That kind of familiar ground in front of his goalkeeper, Phillips’ speed and willingness makes his high soccer IQ combined to disrupt attacks by NT forteammates better.” wards. The sun and muggy conditions should have sapped Phil— Loyola Academy lips, an FC United club player and an 80-minute-per-match boys soccer coach booter in 80-minute matches. Baer Fisher They failed to do so. An elite Ironman athlete 16. would happily trade his or her “ We took it on the chin first-string bike for Phillips’ today,” said the 5-foot-9, 130- stamina. pound Phillips, a tri-captain “Luke is an important piece (with senior defender Jonas of our team,” Ramblers boys Madison an junior midfielder soccer coach Baer Fisher said Christian Jimenez) for a 9-3 of the former midfielder who team (through Sept. 25). “But shifted to defense as a firstwe’re good, very good; I like year varsity member last fall. the makeup of our team. “Real steady, a leader and a “I’m very lucky to be able great captain. His mentality to play with a group of guys f rom the end of last year to like we have.” now … he’s a hungrier kid, Consider yourself fortunate always wanting to improve. if you’ve ever heard Phillips That kind of willingness do a vocal impression of makes his teammates better.” President Donald Trump. Teammate Roger Akela, a Or King Julien f rom the senior forward, admires PhilMadagascar movies. lips, the soccer player; PhilOr Cubs radio broadcaster lips, the leader; and Phillips, Pat Hughes. a younger version of Frank Or TV and radio sports an- Caliendo, the comic known nouncer Kevin Harlan. for his spot-on impersonation The young man has a good of former NFL coach and ear and plenty of talent. Put NFL TV color commentator Phillips on a stage at a Zanies John Madden. “Luke is a funny and intelComedy Club, and you wouldn’t want his gig to end. ligent guy, with a great per“I am not as good as my sonality,” Akela said. “When

COOL HEAD LUKE: Loyola Academy’s Luke Phillips heads the ball during earlier action this season. PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK GORSKI

he plays soccer he’s focused, ambitious and hardworking, and he talks when we need him to talk.” A Wilmette resident with four younger siblings (Madeline, Meredith, John and James), Phillips played mostly soccer and basketball and ran for cross country teams before enrolling at LA in the fall of 2014. His love for soccer made him drop cross countr y, another fall sport, but it didn’t stop him f rom hustling as a middle distance runner on LA track and field teams. Phillips helped the varsity’s 1600-meter relay team capture a Catholic League title last spring with a personal-best 400-meter time of 52.4. He took runner-up honors in the 800 (1.59.4) at the same meet and later missed qualifying for

state in the 800 by two seconds at a sectional. The two major influences in Phillips’ life? Jim and Laura Phillips — Luke’s father and mother. Jim became director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation at Northwestern University in 2008 and was named NU’s vice president for athletics & recreation four years later. A former athletic director at Northern Illinois University, Jim is in his 10th year at the Big Ten school in Evanston. “Pur ple tie and white starchy shirt, plus a full-on navy blue suit,” Luke said of his father’s uniform at NU athletic events. “My mentor, my biggest hero. My dad is an incredible leader at home and at work, and he’s incredibly

his team’s sideline, continued to bark encouraging words to his teammates. The score at the time: New Trier 4, LA 0. “You’re not going to find a player with more intensity or with a better work ethic than Jonas’,” LA senior tri-captain Luke Phillips said. … Phillips is considering Northwestern, Duke and Notre Dame for the next stop along his educaNotable: Loyola Academy’s tional path. … Phillips atboys soccer team defeated host tended Northwestern’s home St. Joseph 3-0 on Sept. 19 and football game against Bowling blanked visiting Brother Rice Green on Sept. 16, hours after 1-0 two days later. The Ram- the NT-LA boys soccer match blers had won five straight at the Munz Campus in Glenmatches f rom Aug. 31-Sept. view. NU won 49-7. “I’ve 12, outscoring their opponents always enjoyed going to those 16-2. … With only 1:20 left games and taking in a collegein Loyola Academy’s match football atmosphere f rom a with visiting New Trier on seat in the stands,” Phillips Sept. 16, Ramblers senior tri- said. captain Jonas Madison, f rom loyal. I admire his work ethic and the way he shows respect for people where ver he happens to be. “And my mom,” he added, “what an angel, with all she has done for our family.” The voice Luke Phillips used to express such sincere thoughts? His own.

The North Shore Weekend East, Issue 260  
The North Shore Weekend East, Issue 260  

The North Shore Weekend East is published weekly and features the news and personalities of Wilmette, Kenilworth., Winnetka, Northfield, Gle...