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Fenwick's Thomas Planek dives for a loose ball between OPRF's Darrius Williams and Erick Locke. Oak Park River Forest High School hosted Fenwick High School in boys basketball Saturday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
As long as he can remember, Thomas Planek has been trying to shoot a basketball.
Planek currently does it in front of Fenwick. The 6-foot-6 junior forward is a starter for the No. 21 Friars (4-0), who host St. Francis de Sales (1-4) at 7 p.m. Friday. Fenwick also will compete in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, taking on the host Panthers Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3:45 pm in opening round action.
As kid, Thomas Planek didn’t always have an audience when he practiced shooting with his older brother John. The Planek brothers would take over an empty gymnasium, and many times it was the hallowed hall of Alumni Gym on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago.
Their father is former Loyola athletic director John Planek, who directed the Ramblers programs for 12 years until 2011. For the Planek brothers, that meant plenty of time to practice their jump shots while dad was working.
That also allowed the Planek brothers to become regulars at just about every Loyola home game, which many times included extended cousins and extended family as well. Lately, those games are held at Loyola basketball’s new home at the Gentile Center.
“I played baseball, basketball and soccer, but I went a lot to go watch Loyola,” Thomas said. “At Alumni Gym, I would go there all the time to shoot baskets.”
The Oak Park resident helped the Friars win their first title at the Lyons Thanksgiving tournament Nov. 24 and beat rival Oak Park-River Forest 66-57 Saturday while Planek had 13 points.
Thomas Planek is the fourth male member of his family to play basketball for Fenwick. His older brother, John P., graduated in 2011 after playing on the varsity for two years. Their father, John J., played before graduating in 1979.
Their grandfather, Charles, graduated in 1948 and played for legendary coach Tony Lawless. Charles grew up in Chicago and took a train and bus to Fenwick. Thomas and his family now live only a few blocks away from the Fenwick campus.
“Charles makes it to a couple of games a year,” John J. said.
John J. and his wife, Mary Alice have five children: John P., a sophomore at Notre Dame, Thomas, Elizabeth, Mary Kate and Margaret.
John Planek was named the sixth athletic director in Lewis University history on Aug. 29. Before Loyola, he was assistant athletic director at DePaul for 13 years and an athletic director and assistant boys varsity basketball coach at St. Ignatius before that.
“(Thomas) has always participated in athletics, whether it was baseball, basketball or soccer,” John J. said. “He was always around the games. He has been around the games his whole life.”~.