Senior basketball player and Georgetown-bound Lilly Wehman comes from a family of accomplished athletes. Her father, Rich Wehman, played basketball at Loyola and in college at Holy Cross. Her sister, Molly, played basketball and soccer at Loyola, and brother, Richie, played basketball and football at Loyola. Richie continued his football career at Denison. But the best athlete in Lilly’s family was her grandmother, Marilee (Stepan) Wehman, who won a bronze medal in swimming at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. A graduate of Sacred Heart in Winnetka and four-year varsity player at Loyola, Lilly, a team captain, will leave the program with the record for most career blocked shots and most in a single season.
MAROON & GOLD: You are in the fourth quarter of your basketball career at Loyola. Has it hit you yet?
LILLY WEHMAN: Not until this week at practice when [Loyola head coach Jeremy] Schoenecker was emphasizing the little things like setting screens, taking charges, telling us that is what wins games at this time of the season. Because if we lose our next game, we’re done. It’s crazy to think about.
M&G: You will play Division I basketball at Georgetown, the third person in your immediate family to play college sports. How did you come to that decision?
LW: I had some [extended] family go there and heard good things about the school. I e-mailed them after my junior year, but I didn’t hear back from there for awhile. I thought, ‘Oh, great.’ About four weeks later, I got a response. They then saw me at a tournament over the summer and told me they were interested. One of the things I like about Georgetown is I can continue on the Jesuit education route. When I visited there, I noticed a lot of things on campus that reminded me of Loyola. I felt comfortable there.
M&G: Not many freshman play varsity sports at Loyola. Were you nervous at all about making the team?
LW: The first day of summer camp was scary. All the girls seemed so much older. But once I got to know everybody, it wasn’t bad. I do remember the first game. I was on the bench, and I wondered if [Schoenecker] would ever call my name. When he did, I was very nervous waiting by the scorer’s table to check in.
M&G: You missed your entire sophomore season with a torn ACL in your right knee. But you came back and helped the Ramblers to a regional championship as a junior and earned Class 3A/4A all-state honorable mention from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Do you believe overcoming that adversity turned you into a better player?
LW: I do. It allowed me to grow as a player and as a person. There were times during the rehab that I questioned whether or not I wanted to play basketball again. Watching the games on the bench that season was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I made it through. I can look back on it and say I learned a lot. Before I took practice for granted. But now, I am excited to go because you never know when it could all end.
M&G: Your dad is a former Loyola athlete and one of the school’s biggest sports fans. He’s also your former coach. How often do you the two of you talk basketball?
LW: When we are at the dinner table, he first asks me if I learned something new in school. Then, he asks me what I did at practice. He’s been awesome.
M&G: Your brother, Richie, is back in town after graduating college. Has it been fun to have him around this season?
LW: For sure. I’m super close to him, so it’s been great. He’s come to most of the home games. I always got to go to his games, but he couldn’t come to my games because he was away at college. It’s been fun to see him there.
M&G: Do you have a highlight or favorite memory of your basketball career?
LW: Winning the regional title last season is definitely No. 1. I would say playing Montini has been fun, especially at home this season. They are always so good. They have two post players who are bigger than me and will play Division I basketball. I don’t get to play against girls taller than that very often. Even though we lost, I enjoy the challenge.
M&G: What’s it like having a grandma who won an Olympic medal?
LW: It’s incredible. When I was younger, I didn’t resonate that much with me. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize how amazing it is what she accomplished. I am very interested about it now, and I ask her a lot of questions.
M&G: Outside of playing sports, what are your interests?
LW: I like going to concerts. I saw Migos at Riviera [in Chicago] not that long ago. I went to all four days of Lollapalooza last summer. I’m a big Maroon 5 and Sam Smith fan.