Mundelein super-fan legacy to live on
George Chresanthakes and his daughters Catherine (left) and Georgia. George, a Mundelein High School super-fan, always wore a red MHS alumni hat. George died Sept. 10. | For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:22AM
MUNDELEIN — When the Mundelein High School girls basketball team takes the floor Nov. 29, it will be the first home opener without legendary fan George Chresanthakes since before any of the players were born.
Chresanthakes was a constant presence during the 15 years his daughters played sports, and continued to cheer for the Mustangs for nine years after they graduated.
Known for wearing either a red “MHS Alumni” hat or a blue Chicago Cubs hat, Chresanthakes died on Sept. 10 at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer.
Christine Palmer, now married, was the eldest daughter and graduated from MHS in 1989. Though she did not play basketball, her father attended every tennis match she played.
“He seriously had no clue about tennis,” Palmer said. “There was one particular Saturday where we had snow, and mom and dad were there for the whole time.”
Once exposed to MHS athletics, Mavericks passion consumed him.
“The thing about dad, in terms of Mundelein sports, is that he went to everything as long as he knew someone on the team,” Palmer said. “I can remember him going to football practices and games for Larry Maddock, for Pam Weisner’s brothers, and I believe, for my senior year’s class, just because it was my senior year.”
Georgia Chresanthakes graduated in 1992 after being a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball and softball). Her father’s enthusiasm continued to blossom.
“I remember during a freshman softball game I was up to bat and I hit a ball that looked like it would be a home run,” Georgia said. “Dad jumped out of his chair and ran the length of the foul line pointing his finger toward the field as if trying to guide the ball to stay fair. It barely curved foul and he turned around and said ‘well hit another one but that way this time.’”
By the time Catherine Case, now married, was at MHS, Chresanthakes was more than a regular at the games.
“I first started coaching girls basketball in 1998-99,” girls varsity basketball coach Brian Evans said. “I came to my first practice and this older gentleman wearing a red ‘Mundelein High School’ cap walks in and unfolds a chair in the corner of the gym. He didn’t say or do anything. He watched and then left when practice was over.”
After making contact, Evans and Chresanthakes quickly became good friends. Evans’ father even started coming to basketball games to sit and talk with Chresanthakes.
Every few Saturdays, Chresanthakes would treat the whole team to breakfast at local restaurants. Once a year, he invited the team to his house to make candy.
“Parents take a beating nowadays for being ‘helicopter parents’ who are overbearing,” said Perry Wilhelm, MHS athletic director. “That family is the model for how to parent a student-athlete. George was very positive with the kids, not intrusive on operations, and he always supported everything a coach decided.”
After Case graduated in 2001, George Chresanthakes continued to attend home basketball games, among other sports.
“He always knew one of the kids, either through their parents or because they lived nearby,” Evans said. “He was a true fan.”
In recent years, as his health deteriorated, Chresanthakes had to leave games early. Evans decided to send Chresanthakes DVDs of those games.
At his funeral, the Chresanthakes family asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the MHS Athletic Department for girls athletics.