DURHAM, N.C.-- The Duke women’s basketball squad will open its 2018-19 season this Sunday on the road as the team heads to Chicago to take on Northwestern. While all the players are looking forward to this game as the season opener, the game has an additional meaning for Haley Gorecki and Faith Suggs. For them, it is a chance to return home and play in front of an audience of their family and friends.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, both Gorecki and Suggs have a special connection with the city and definitely call it home.
“I’m really excited to go back with Haley, back to Chicago and get back into the atmosphere of the Windy City,” stated Suggs. “I’m really excited to play at home in front of our families.”
As the roots of their basketball careers, Gorecki and Suggs have many achievements and memories specifically tied to the city of Chicago. Gorecki was selected the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year in 2014-15, as well as All-Area twice. Suggs was selected All-Area by the Chicago Sun-Times three times, and both players had powerful impacts on their local high school teams.
Taking players home has always been a tradition of Duke women’s basketball.
“It’s loads of fun to take players home,” commented Blue Devil head coach Joanne P. McCallie. “It’s been something that we’ve done for my 12 years here and I think it’s been done for most years here.”
With players drawn to Duke both nationally and internationally, this homecoming tradition gives the team chances to travel to many different places. But no matter the distance, whether it is to Chicago, Illinois, or France, the team always makes the trip, because McCallie knows the value of being able to perform in front of the people who helped shape the players into who they are today.
While this is specifically a homecoming for Gorecki and Suggs, McCallie will also have a homecoming of sorts when returning to Northwestern, which is where she played collegiate basketball. During her 1984-87 career, the former Joanne Palombo notched 378 assists, placing her seventh all time in Northwestern history for this statistic.
For Gorecki and Suggs, they have over 100 people coming to watch them play. This crowd includes everyone from family members to friends, from past teammates to former coaches, and even current members of their high school teams. Suggs and Gorecki will get the opportunity to introduce the players they have become with the people who were there at the beginning of their basketball careers. In a sea of purple, the Blue Devil proud will be out in support of these two hometown players.
Not only will Gorecki and Suggs get to reconnect with the people they grew up with, they will also get the chance to show their teammates their hometown. What is on the menu for the Duke squad in the Windy City besides basketball? Gorecki and Suggs look forward to introducing their teammates to a slice of home in the form of deep-dish pizza.
“I heard we are getting Lou Malnati’s pizza,” said Gorecki. “I hope that’s the case because that’s my favorite place.”
An exciting road opener is coming to Blue Devil fans this Sunday, as well as a chance for Gorecki and Suggs to return home and share the start of the 2018-19 season with their families and friends.