Triple-doubles (double digits in three statistical categories) in basketball are relatively uncommon achievements – a hallowed hoops bailiwick truly belonging to a handful of all-time ballers like Oscar Robertson and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Over the last decade at Riverside-Brookfield High School, however, Meghan Hutchens, April Hutchens and Jessie Hutchens have collectively authored their own interpretation of a “triple double,” (three sisters, two-sport stars).
In fact, their considerable accomplishments in basketball and softball greatly influenced the Bulldogs female sports narrative from 2001 to 2010.
As a precursor to their preps production, the Hutchens sisters were constantly playing sports as kids growing up in Riverside.
“I took Meghan to tap dance class, and Jessie and April tried musical instruments, but sports were their passion,” said Debbie, their mom. “The girls never complained or missed a practice. They even played roller hockey.”
Unlike hockey’s rough-and-tumble Hanson Brothers from the 1977 classic movie, Slap Shot, though, the opening credit for the Hutchens Sisters show came via Meghan’s sweet jump shot.
Teaming up with fellow scorer Maggie McCloskey, Meghan took the Bulldogs basketball program to new heights in the mid-2000s. Perfectly suited for coach Larry Rocco’s up-tempo system, the 6-foot guard averaged 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 2005 and was selected as a two-time Suburban Prairie Conference MVP.
“My junior year , our team won a regional championship for the first time in 23 years,” Meghan said. “I broke the [RB] record for points in a career, and then Maggie broke the record the following year.”
The versatile guard then earned a basketball scholarship from the University of Illinois-Chicago. While playing for the Flames in the Horizon League, Meghan majored in kinesiology. After graduating UIC, The 23-year-old returned to coach basketball this year at RB with her mentor, Rocco. Not coincidentally, sister Jessie was also in the mix as the Bulldogs’ 5-9 star point guard.
“It was awesome getting to coach Jessie and getting to know all the girls on the team,” Meghan said. “They worked their butts off and had a pretty good season.”
With her family and Rocco’s support, Meghan made the difficult decision of leaving the Bulldogs a few weeks shy of their season’s end to pursue pro basketball in Europe. Meghan played for the Katwijk Grasshoppers in Holland. With only one American teammate (Missy Mitidiero), Meghan adapted to the friendly Dutch culture with the alacrity of a fill-the-lanes fast break.
“On the court, my teammates and coaches would speak English,” Meghan recalled, “but when my coach would yell it was always in Dutch. I thought that was crazy because I had no idea what he was saying.
“I loved being over in Europe. I got to play for a few months, and we had a decent season. My goal is to go back, but we have to see what happens.”
While her agent is currently searching out other pro deals in Europe, Meghan has enjoyed being home this summer, especially spending time with her parents, Larry and Debbie, and her athletic understudy, Jessie.
Jessie, 17, recently completed a sensational senior campaign leading the RB volleyball, basketball and softball teams to across the board success.
On the basketball court, Jessie averaged 14 points per game, earned all-conference and all-area player honors, and led the Bulldogs (24-5) to conference and regional championships.
Jessie was even more impressive on the softball field. RB (32-4) claimed the second-best record in school history as coach Dan Hull surpassed the 300-win mark this season.
“I coached the Hutchens girls, all together, about eight years,” Hull said. “They have had a profound influence on the program. Jessie had a great senior year and became an outstanding team leader.”
Jessie, a shortstop who will play college softball at Radford, earned all-state recognition during the spring, hitting .536 with 66 hits and setting school records in home runs (15) and RBIs (74).
“My time at RB was in ways similar to my sisters’ experiences,” Jessie said. “I liked playing multiple sports. RB is where I developed a lot of friendships, and my coaches were like fathers to me.”
Aside from playing for the Beverly Bandits softball travel team this summer, Jessie has been working out extensively with Meghan.
“At first it was a little rough if Jessie struggled with a workout,” Meghan said about the pairing. “Jessie needs someone to calm her down at times. I’ve told her to take things as they come, because if you make a mistake you can’t change it. You have to push through things in life.”
Heeding the counsel of her big sister, Jessie is eager to take on the rigors of balancing college athletics and academics.
“I know it will be a rude awakening in college,” she said, “but I think I’ll be ready for it.”
If she needs extra encouragement, Jessie can always turn to her other sister, April, a sophomore at Valdosta State in Georgia. Starting all 60 games at second base this season, April hit four home runs with 27 RBI for the Blazers.
Valdosta State (51-9) finished second in the nation at the NCAA Division II National Softball Championship. Although Hawaii Pacific edged the Blazers 4-3 in the title game on May 31, April performed well during the ESPN-aired game.
“Playing in the championship game, especially with my family being there, was unbelievable,” she said. “I never expected to make it to the World Series [of NCAA softball], so it’s really beyond belief.”
April, 20, attributes much of her success to the guidance of RB teachers, coaches, and her family.
“My parents helped me and my sisters so much with their money, time and support,” April said. “I think my sisters and I have always had a very good bond.”
While the Hutchens girls will continue their post-RB success in pro basketball/coaching (Meghan), at Valdosta State (April) and at Radford (Jessie), respectively, they do share one binding, non-negotiable contract when “Team Hutchens” is back in Riverside.
“When we’re home, April, Jessie, me and mom play in a summer slow pitch softball league,” Meghan said with a laugh. “We all bat one after another in the lineup. Someone on another team asked me, ‘Do you guys purposefully do that?’ I said, ‘Yeah, my mom made the lineup.'”