By Marty Farmer
Even though his team lost 49-7 to Mount Carmel on Saturday, Fenwick senior defensive back Timmy Carey played the most memorable game of his life. To paraphrase the sports cliché, it didn't matter much whether he won or lost, or even how he played the game. Location was everything.
"Saturday was surreal for me," Timmy said. "It really hit deeply in my heart. I couldn't ask for a better way to end my career where my family's football legacy started."
Timmy's great uncles, Tom and Tony Carey both played at football at Mount Carmel and then collegiately at Notre Dame. Tom and Tony bought a city block back in honor of their father during the early 1980s. That land soon became Robert F. Carey Sr. Field on the Mount Carmel campus. Robert ardently supported Mount Carmel for years.
On Saturday, approximately 40 family members gathered at Carey Field on the Mount Carmel campus. The day served as a wonderful testament to the Carey family's commitment to the South Side school.
Starting next season, the Caravan will play all varsity football games at Carey Field. Previously, Gately Stadium hosted.
While the Carey family has close ties with Mount Carmel, Fenwick has been comparably meaningful.
Tim Carey (Timmy's dad), graduated from Fenwick and played football for the Friars. In 1981, he played alongside best friend Timmy Lattner as Fenwick fielded one of the best teams in Chicagoland that year.
Tim's wife, Liz, attended OPRF and they became high school sweethearts. Their four children — Colleen, Maggie and Bridget and Timmy — all attended Fenwick. The three daughters played on water polo teams that, collectively, won five state titles for the Friars' storied program.
Timmy has played football and rugby at Fenwick.
Although the Friars finished 3-6 on the gridiron this fall, he kept the season in proper perspective.
"Coming into the season, we knew we had a tough schedule. We actually just found out we had the second toughest in the state," Timmy said. "As a small team with not much experience, we had to play with what we have and do our best for the team. It was next man up. Facing so many different opponents and game plans, we just moved on week by week and tried to have some fun with it."
Last spring certainly wasn't amusing for Timmy when he broke his clavicle during the Friars' last rugby match of the season at Morton. Dealing with that injury plus his positive attitude toward football has earned his dad's respect.
"For Timmy to come back and play at the caliber he did in football this season is admirable," Tim said. "He's truly dedicated to football and he loves playing the game. That's why he was a team captain."
The elixir of leadership and talent appears genetic in the family.
Timmy's aforementioned great uncles excelled at Notre Dame after stellar careers at Mount Carmel.
Tom started at quarterback for the Irish when Johnny Lattner won the Heisman Trophy in 1953 and Frank Leahy was the head coach.
Tony, who now lives in La Grange, also flourished at Notre Dame. He played defensive back under head coach Ara Parseghian. After Notre Dame finished under .500 the previous five seasons, Parseghian took over the program in 1964 and the Irish finished No. 3 in the country that year. During that magical fall, Notre Dame won nine straight games before losing to USC 20-17 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in front of 83,840 fans. During the game, which would determine the winner of the national championship, a possible interception slipped through Tony's fingers.
"Tony is about seven years younger than Tom," Tim said about his uncles. "When Tom was going to law school, he also coached football at Mount Carmel and Tony was an upperclassmen. They won a city championship back in the early 1960s. That was back in the day when about 100,000 people would attend that game."
The Carey family's story is as interesting off the field as on it.
"My great-grandfather Thomas Carey Sr. started Hawthorne Race Course back in 1909," Tim said. "Then, my grandfather, my Uncle Tom and my father took it over through the years. I have taken over the last 15 years."
Hawthorne Race Course is the oldest sporting venue in Illinois.
"It's always been a family business. We are extremely fortunate in that regard," Tim said. "We have always been very philanthropic, too, especially in terms of helping schools."
In addition to business and football, Tim enjoys life as a Riverside resident.
"I grew up in Riverside," Tim said. "Once Liz and I started having kids, we thought about where we wanted to live. We couldn't find any place better than Riverside. It's a great town for families."
Next fall, Timmy will be relocating to a college campus. Indiana, Iowa and Dayton are the frontrunners.
"A couple of schools expressed interest and wanted film of me," Timmy said about playing college football. "As of now, I don't think I am going to pursue any of those offers. I just don't see myself playing college ball. But I'll still love watching college football.
"Ending my Fenwick career against Mount Carmel, though, especially in front of my family is something I can keep forever."