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Rich Wehman is as much of a constant at Loyola athletic events as the prayer before each game.
During the football season, the 1975 graduate is a spotter in the press box, something he’s done for more than two decades. Wehman even got engaged to wife, Mia, at a game. He arranged for an airplane to fly over the field with a banner that posed the question.
Wehman’s more connected to the basketball program, first as a player for the Ramblers and now as the biggest fan of son Richie, a senior guard and team captain.
Richie Wehman III started his first game of the season Friday in the team’s 49-43 win over Mount Carmel that moved Loyola into second place in the Catholic North.
“I’ve been taking Richie to Loyola games his whole life,” said Rich Wehman, who coached his son and several other Ramblers at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka. “I’m very proud of him. He plays hard, and he does all the little things it takes for the team to win.”
A bone bruise in his ankle suffered during the football season kept Richie Wehman III on the bench until Dec. 14. Nearly one month later, the three-year varsity player finally worked his way back into the starting lineup.
“It was a lingering injury, but it’s manageable pain now,” Richie Wehman III said.
Loyola coach Tom Livatino is thrilled to have Richie Wehman III at full strength. His contributions show up everywhere but the scorebook.
“He’s a great leader, and our guys respond to Richie,” said Livatino, whose club came into this week 11-5 overall and 4-2 in league play. “He’s a high-energy defender for us, and he always does a great job defending the other team’s best player. He makes a huge impact without scoring.”
Richie Wehman III understands and accepts his role, even if that means never taking a shot.
“I try to be the vocal leader of the team,” said Wehman III, who noted that he urges his teammates to talk on defense, especially late in the game when players are tired. “My teammates respond to my voice. Communication is such a big factor us, so I know what I need to do. I’m not afraid to get on guys, but I do my best to strike a balance.”
Although it was natural for Richie Wehman III to gravitate toward basketball because of his father, football seems to be his favorite sport, one he’s looking to play in college.
“I’ve been playing sports ever since I was young,” he said. “Of course, my dad got me into basketball early. I would always go to the gym with him. Then, I got into football.
“There’s just something about football. It’s so overwhelming and so refreshing at the same time. But I do love both sports.”
Father and son aren’t the only two athletes in the family. Rich Wehman’s mother, Marilee Stepan Wehman, competed at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki as a 17-year-old U.S. swimmer. Rich Wehman’s two daughters — Molly and Lilly — also play sports.
“My dad’s been a big part of my experience,” said Richie Wehman III, who conceded he still falls on the losing end in backyard games of HORSE. “He taught me and some of the other players how to play basketball the right way, really stressing the basics. It was pretty advanced stuff for grade school, but it was a lot of fun, too.”
Sacred Heart played 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defenses and man-to-man. Richie Wehman III said Sacred Heart was one of the rare grammar school team exposed to multiple defense.