Her father is a police officer. Her uncle is a retired firefighter.
Oak Forest High School senior Courtney Kachlik has grown up in an environment where caring for others is job No. 1.
She teaches a kindergarten class through an intern program at school. One day she pictures herself becoming a nurse. She would be no different than an ordinary teenager except for a defining personality trait. She has an extraordinary way of reaching out to touch those around her and strives to impact their lives on a daily basis.
Take the Christmas gift program she was involved with through her aunt’s parish, St. Julie Roman Catholic Church in Tinley Park. Kachlik showered basketball goodies on a 14-year-old girl with similar interests to that of her own.
“I got to pick out outfits, shoes, stuff like that,” Kachlik said.
Need more proof? How about her work with the children at the Ridge Early Childhood Center.
“My second grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, was a good influence on me,” Kachlik said of Carey Murphy. “At first, I wanted to be a teacher. So, I go to Ridge and teach her kindergarten class now. I help out. I put up bulletin boards. I pass out papers and I interact with the kids.
“They’re 5 and 6 years old. I enjoy it. They have different personalities. You have the quiet ones and the troublemakers, too. You learn what teachers deal with every day.”
Kachlik learned at a young age to cut the grade in the classroom. She is an 3.4 student and three-sport athlete at Oak Forest (golf, basketball, soccer) and a shining example of how good things do come the way of good people—all in due time.
Oak Forest Girls Basketball: That's a Wrap
She wrapped up her basketball playing days with the Bengals with a once-in-a-lifetime effort in Oak Forest’s 46-43 victory over Rich South in the championship game of the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional.
Kachlik made all seven of her shots in the game and scored a career-high 16 points. She earned Patch Athlete of the Week honors in fan voting for her performance and praise from Oak Forest girls basketball coach and assistant athletic director Steve Schanz.
Kachlik, a 5-foot-8 center, entered the fray averaging about 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds. She started some games, came off the bench in others, did whatever Schanz asked of her and supported her teammates along the way with an infectious smile and positive attitude.
“I think a great word to describe Courtney is perseverance,” Schanz said. “I preach to the girls to push themselves and be out of their comfort zone. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping her out of her comfort zone for two straight years.
“She kept working hard. She accepted her role, but always wanted more, which I want all of my players to do, and to see her finally rewarded was really special. It was great to win regionals for the team and the seniors. But for her to play the way she did was pretty emotional.
“Athletes like Courtney are great for any program to show that hard work does pay off,” Schanz said. “It may not happen right away. But for it to happen on the big stage and to happen like that—that’s straight out of the movies right there. That’s Geoff Blum coming off the bench and hitting that home run in the World Series for the White Sox or something like that.”
Kachlik's Next Stop is Holland—Michigan
Kachlik plans to attend Hope College in Holland, Mich. She said her parents (Dave and Pam) made it point to encourage their children to participate in activities and explore opportunities—on the playing fields and off. She has one brother, Matt, and one sister, Ashley.
Matt is a freshman at North Central College in Naperville and runs cross-country and track for the Cardinals. Ashley is a senior bowler at the University of Illinois.
“They got us involved in a lot of sports,” Courtney said. “But if we didn’t like the sport, they would take us and go somewhere else for another sport if we wanted. With our grades—my sister and my brother are both honor students now. But if we got a bad grade on something, they wouldn’t be upset with it. They would just keep pushing us harder and they would have us study more. It was a good environment for us to grow up in.”
Schanz jokes about Kachlik having no choice but to tow the line given her dad’s line of work.
“Absolutely, be on your best behavior,” he said. “Whenever I was trying to figure out who to put in, I’d look up in the stands and he’d just sit there and show his gun. No, I’m kidding. He’s a great guy. He’s one of our booster parents—him and his wife. They certainly supported the program.”
Anything to help.
Dave Kachlik has worked as a patrolman at the Oak Forest Police Department for 25 years. He served as one of the department’s DARE officers during much of the time when his own children were in junior high and high school.
“I do think that helped steer Courtney in the direction she’s headed,” he said. “She’s always seen how I cared about kids in my DARE program. If they had a bad day, I took the time to try and help them. Courtney’s always loved helping people—all my kids really, but Courtney especially.
"She might go into the ‘peds’ part of nursing. She’s even talking about working with kids with cancer. I don’t know if I could handle that. But she’s always been special that way.”