Tricia Liston is now among the elite.

Well, she always was among the elite really, but now it’s official. She joins special athletes hailing from the Oak Park and River Forest area like Iman Shumpert, Eric Kumerow, Emery Lehman, Dani Tyler, Ellis Coleman, Becky Wilczak, Kenneth Sitzberger and others who have reached the pinnacle of their sport. On April 14th, the River Forest native was selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft (12th overall) by the Minnesota Lynx, where she’ll join former Fenwick High School teammate Devereaux Peters.   

It’s a fitting team, the Lynx, for Liston, someone who has experience playing on winning teams and who has experience helping winning teams continue … well, of course, winning. The Lynx have won three-straight WNBA titles. Liston is coming off a stellar four-year collegiate career at Duke where she helped guide the Blue Devils to a 120-20 overall record. The former Friar was one of the top three-point shooters in the country, making 48 percent of her shots from behind the arc. She is Duke’s all-time leader from that range, shredding the net 252 times. During her senior year she averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game, and was an 85 percent free-throw shooter. Last year she played on the USA Women’s Basketball team that won gold at the World University Games in Russia.

Yes, Tricia Liston knows a thing or two about winning.

The freshman at Fenwick who scored 10 points to help the Friars secure a Class AA State title in 2007, and the senior at Fenwick who scored a whopping 40 points to lead the Friars to a third-place finish in the Class 4A State tourney in 2010, has arrived.

Liston also helped lead the St. Luke’s Middle School to three straight Girls Catholic Classic League titles. 

Like most people who know her or know of her work ethic, I had no doubt that this day would come. Four years ago for a story, before she left for Duke, I met with Liston and her friend Maggie Kloak while her personal trainer Thurman Hendrix put us through what I felt was a grueling workout. Liston and Kloak barely broke a sweat. I nearly collapsed from exhaustion … numerous times.

It was just another day for Liston, another workout, another opportunity to prepare for the athletic challenges she was sure to face in the future. All that hard work has paid off now. All those practices and games, tagging along with her older sisters, watching and listening intently to her father, Brian, a former Fenwick and Loyola University hoops star, taking guidance from one of the state’s best high school girls basketball coaches in Dave Power have rewarded Liston the distinguished honor of being defined a pro athlete.  

She’s among the elite now. She’s a professional.

And it’s only the beginning.