Senior volleyball player Mary Leinenweber and the Ramblers ended the regular season Tuesday with a 21-25, 25-22, 25-14 win over Providence Catholic at home. Loyola (23-12) opens the Class 4A state tournament Tuesday at Niles North. A graduate of St. Athanasius in Evanston, the setter and captain is the fourth of six children from what she called a hyper-competitive household. Tommy, Katie and Peter Leinenweber all graduated from Loyola and played sports for the Ramblers. Her younger sister, Betsy Leinenweber, is a sophomore and three-sport athlete, and the youngest Leinenweber, Annie, is an eighth-grader at St. Athanasius who plays two sports. The Leinenweber parents — Martha and Tom — both were athletes in high school. Martha played three sports at New Trier, and Tom was a football player and golfer at Joliet Catholic.
MAROON & GOLD: What’s a good example of your family dynamic?
MARY LEINENWEBER: Funny story. Every summer, we go to Long Beach, Indiana. There is a volleyball court on the beach. There are eight in our family, so we divide us into two teams of four. We make it even. It gets crazy, and there has been crying. But it’s fun.
M&G: There isn’t a lot of overlap in sports among the siblings. You said Tommy played baseball and soccer, Katie swam and Peter played golf. Betsy plays field hockey, basketball and soccer, and Annie plays volleyball and swims.
ML: It’s probably for the best. Betsy and I would be too competitive with each other in the same sport. I think our parents inspired us to try different sports, and we all decided which ones we liked the best. I was a huge soccer player when I was younger and also played basketball, but I chose volleyball in high school because it was the one I loved the most.
M&G: You’re one of three captains, sharing the honor with senior Angela Pieroni and junior Elizabeth Ford. What does that responsibility mean to you?
ML: I’ve always wanted to take on a leadership role. I am a positive person who loves helping others. There have been times when a teammate had a bad game or a bad day at school, and I always make sure to reach out to them. I’m a lengthy texter, so I send them something to reassure them that I am there for them.
M&G: How important is chemistry to a team’s success?
ML: It’s incredibly important. Our team is very close. Every Saturday after we lift weights, we all go to Jasper’s in Glenview. We have a good time. Even though I’m a senior, I feel like a junior because I consider us all equals. Our chemistry is something that can take us far.
M&G: In your final match at home, you came from behind to beat Providence Catholic. Notably, head coach Mark Chang continued his tradition of signing the National Anthem on Senior Night. As a two-year varsity player, what was your reaction when you first heard him do it?
ML: It caught all of us off guard. He’s so good. His voice is amazing.
M&G: One of my favorite people at Loyola, Melissa Krein, gave me the goods on Chang’s musical talent. When I talked to Chang after the game, he told me he sang and played guitar in the Chicago band QuarterMile (http://www.quartermiletheband.com/). Do the players know about his rock-and-roll past?
ML: Yes. He’s given us CDs before. We see him as a teacher and volleyball coach, but it’s cool to know he had other interests earlier in his life.
M&G: What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at Loyola?
ML: I love to do service. Through Arrupe [a service program at Loyola], I have done work with Maryhaven in Glenview. It’s a nursing home and rehabilitation center. I do it in the winter. I go there, and I visit with them and talk to them about whatever they find interesting. I enjoy it. I want to go into nursing like my sister [Katie] because I love helping people.
M&G: This past summer, you traveled to West Virginia with your Loyola classmates. Describe that experience.
ML: It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. The mountains were so beautiful, and we didn’t use our phone for a week. But it taught me that a lot of people in the world need help. It also taught me to be grateful for what I have. The first couple of days we were there we learned about the Appalachia culture. That allowed us to better understand the people and made it easier for us to talk to them. West Virginia is [one of the poorest states] in our country, but everybody deserves a chance at a good life. I wrote in my journal every night because I didn’t want to forget anything about the trip.