Wehman III inherits dad’s passion
In this Feb. 29, 2012, photo, Niles North's Lorenzo Dillard (40) prepares to block Loyola's Richie Wehman III (2) in the Niles North regional semifinal in Skokie. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:01PM
CHICAGO — 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.
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 learned the fundamentals from Rich Wehman, who coached his son and several other Ramblers at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka.
“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 teams exposed to multiple defenses.
“I’m very proud of him,” Rich Wehman said. “He plays hard, and he does all the little things it takes for the team to win.”
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 Richie 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 for 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. Richie Wehman III played wide receiver and returned punts for the Ramblers.
“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.”