Joliet St. Francis Academy “Angels”

Joliet St. Francis Academy
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Now Joliet Catholic Academy (courtesy of

The History of Joliet St. Francis Academy

Joliet (population 129,519) is located in northeastern Illinois, about 35 miles southwest of Chicago. The community has grown in recent years from over 106,000 in the 2000 census to the number noted above. Not only is it the county seat of Will County, but also has extended its city limits into Kendall County to the immediate west.

A number of routes have served as ways to reach Joliet, including the legendary Route 66, which was replaced by Interstate 55, along with Interstate 80, US Routes 6, 30, 45, 52, and Illinois Routes 7 & 53. Rail service has been provided by the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern (EJE) RR, along with the AT & SF RR, & the former Rock Island RR, which shut down in 1980. Daily commuter service to Chicago is offered by Metra (short for Metropolitan Train Service) from the Regional Transportation Authority based in Chicago. The Des Plaines River also flows thru the heart of Joliet, and the community also served as a primary stop on the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

Joliet was settled in 1834 under the name Juliet as a honor to settler James B. Campbell’s daughter, although some felt that it had something to do with William Shakespeare’s novel “Romeo & Juliet” since there is a Romeoville about 10 miles north of Joliet. The name and spelling changed to its current form in 1845 to honor Louis Jolliet, a French explorer that visited the area with Father Jacques Marquette in 1673. The town was incorporated in 1852, and has earned many titles, including “All-American City,” “City of Stone,” and “Crossroads of Mid-America.”

it is believed that Joliet first offered education to students in the mid-1850’s, but parochial education was begun in 1869 with the formation of St. Francis Academy for girls by Mother Alfred Moes in a small stone convent located near the Illinois & Michigan Canal. With help from the Franciscan order, the school later relocated to the site of the College of St. Francis, which was an all-womens’ college and remained there until 1956, when it moved to a location on North Larkin Avenue. That location is still open today as Joliet Catholic Academy, which is the result of the 1990 merger between St. Francis Academy and Joliet Catholic High School.

Facts About Joliet St. Francis Academy

Year opened:                   1869

Year closed:                    1990

Merged with:                    Joliet Catholic High School

School colors:                  Columbia Blue and Gold

School nickname:             “Angels”

School song:                    “We Are The Angels”

                                                    Courtesy of SHERI L. VOSS

                                      We are the Angels you can bet we are

                                      For Victory is our loudest cry by far

                                      We are the best you can tell the rest that

                                      S F A Angels win or lose are great

                                      We are the Angels as everyone can see

                                      Forever we will ever always be

                                      And when we’re down and out you can hear us shout

                                      S F A…You are GREAT!

University of St. Francis Tower Hall
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Home to St. Francis Academy 1922-56 (courtesy of

St. Francis Academy offered a number of interscholastic athletics to its female student body, including volleyball, basketball, softball, badminton, tennis, along with track and field.


More often than not, the Angel netters got the school year off on the right foot wth a successful season, with 10 winning seasons in 16 years. Two was a magic number in SFA volleyball history, two district titles, two class AA regionals, two class AA sectionals, two supersectional victories, and two trips to the state AA finals for the Angels. One team even brought home a third place trophy, which speaks for itself in an area that is considered a hotbed for prep volleyball in the state of Illinois.

1973-74  First Season                                  Coach Mary Anne Konopasek

1974-75  10- 5                                             Coach Mary Joe Moran

1975-76    9- 8  District Champs                  Coach Sr. Sondra Davis

1976-77    9- 3                                             Coach Steve Bacharz

1977-78  20- 1  District Champs                  Coach Diane Barnes

1978-79  13-11                                            Coach Diane Barnes

1983-84  20- 8                                             Coach Jodi Traficanti

1984-85  14-11                                            Coach Jodi Traficanti

1985-86  19-11                                            Coach Beth Boland

1986-87  37-  5   IHSA Tourney 3RD Pl.       Coach James Kelly

                        Regional Champs

                        Sectional Champs

                        Supersectional Champs

                        Third Place in State

                          Defeated Oak Park-River Forest 15-12, 15-9

                          Lost to Oak Lawn Richards 15-7, 15-8

                          Beat St. Charles for 3rd place 10-15, 15-12, 16-14

1987-88  33-6-2  IHSA Tourney Elite 8         Coach Connie Smyder

                          Regional Champs

                         Sectional Champs

                         Supersectional Champs

                          Lost to Wheaton St. Francis 15-7, 15-10

                          in quarterfinals



More success was recorded by St. Francis on the softball diamonds during the 1980’s, winning six regionals (three of them in Class AA) three sectionals, and qualifying for the state finals three times with one fourth place to show. Terry Benter guided the Angels to a mark of 165-75 in seven seasons in the 1980’s.

1975   9-  5  First season                  Coaches Ed Russell & Mary Anne Konopasek

1980  12- 2                                      Coach Lynn Boston

1981  20- 6 Regional Champs         Coach Lynn Boston

1982  27- 9 Regional Champs         Coach Terry Benter

                  Sectional Champs 

                  State Qualifers–

                  Beat Belleville West 6-0

                  Lost to Quincy Notre Dame 7-1

                  (QND eventual state champs)

1983 19-13  Regional Champs         Coach Terry Benter

1984 20-  8                                       Coach Terry Benter

1986 31-  9  AA Regional Champs   Coach Terry Benter

                  Sectional Champs

State Qualifiers–

                   Lost to Belleville West 5-0

                   in quarterfinals

1987 23-  9                                       Coach Terry Benter

1988 31-12  AA TOURNEY 3RD PLACE    Coach Terry Benter

                    Regional Champions

                    Sectional Champs

                    State Qualifiers–

                    Shutout Centralia 1-0

                    Lost to Moline 2-1 in 11 innings

                    Lost to Chicago St. Francis DeSales for 3rd, 6-2

1989          AA Regional Champs     Coach unknown



Coach Terry Benter also left his mark on the basketball program with a 125-52 record in six seasons at St. Francis. But according to the IHSA website (, the Angels only had three losing seasons, and began their history by going undefeated in their first two seasons!

1973-74  11-  0                                        Coach Mary Anne Konopasek

1974-75  11-  0                                        Coach Jean LeCuyer

1975-76    8-  4                                        Coach Mike Vioiit

1976-77   11- 9                                        Coach Kip Gasper

1977-78   11- 8                                        Coach Jean LeCuyer

1981-82   16-12                                       Coach Terry Benter

1982-83   20-  9                                       Coach Terry Benter

1983-84   24-  7  Sweet 16 Qualifier       Coach Terry Benter

                         Regional Champs 

                         Sectional Champs

                         Lost to Aurora East 52-44

                         in Supersectional

1984-85   28-  3  Elite 8 Finalist              Coach Terry Benter

                          Regional Champs

                          Sectional Champs

                          Defeated Aurora East 62-59 in Supersectional

                          Lost to Peoria Richwoods in Quarterfinals 65-58

                          Chris Toscas named to all-tournament team

1985-86   18-  9                                        Coach Terry Benter

1986-87   19-12                                        Coach Terry Benter 



The Angel netters brought home eight plaques from state tournament play. Among the totals were five district titles in six years, three sectional championships, a 10th place finish as a team and an individual who placed fourth.

1977   District Champions                                         Coach unknown

1978   District Champions                                         Coach unknown

1  Hinsdale Central                  19

2  Champaign Central              12½

3  LaGrange Lyons                  12

4  Winnetka New Trier East      11

5  Barrington                            9½

6  Lisle Benet Academy            8

Lincolnshire Stevenson          8

8  Highland Park                       7½

9  Northbrook Glenbrook North   7

10  Joliet St. Francis                   6½

1980   District Champions                                         Coach unknown

1981   District Champions                                         Coach unknown

1982   District Champions                                         Coach unknown

1984   Sectional Champions                                     Coach unknown

1986   Sectional Champions                                    Coach unknown

1988   Individual Medalist

            Jenny Karges—4th in Singles

1989   Sectional Champions                   Coach unknown

Job well done!!


SFA showed their worth on the all-weather ovals, taking home a 9th place finish as a team in 1984, and having one relay team along with an individual bring medals from the state finals…including two gold medals.

1984      Team finished 9th overall

               Individual Medalist

                Tonya Scott—100 Meter Dash–STATE CHAMPION!!

                                      200 Meter Dash–3rd place

                                      Long Jump———8th place

1985        Individual Medalists

                Tonya Scott—100 Meter Dash–STATE CHAMPION!!

                800 Medley Relay——————–4th place


One Angel team did win a district title in this sport, which has been long dominated at the state championship by Chicagoland schools.

1979   District Champions     


“Melissa McCarthy is an actress known for her portrayal of Sookie St. James on the television series Gilmore Girls. She currently plays the role of Dena on the ABC sitcom Samantha Who?.

McCarthy, a cousin of actress Jenny McCarthy, was born in Plainfield, Illinois.[1] She graduated from St. Francis Academy in Joliet, IL. Her career started with stand-up comedy and includes film, television, and theater.

She has had small roles in the films The KidCharlie’s AngelsGo, The third wheel and The Life of David Gale. She also did voice work in three episodes of Kim Possible where she played DNAmy. McCarthy is a member of the Los Angeles-based Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe. In 2007 she acted opposite Ryan Reynolds in The Nines, written and directed by John August

McCarthy married her longtime boyfriend, Ben Falcone, on October 8, 2005. They have a daughter, Vivian, born May 5, 2007.”


If you have more information about the history of St. Francis Academy, its alumni, or its activities, please let us know, We’d enjoy reading your stories and seeing additional photos by e-mail at or by sending it to:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, Il  60631

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