Wilmette, Community

No Place Like Home: Fans root on New Trier basketball from local watch parties

While the New Trier boys basketball team was in Champaign Friday evening playing in the IHSA semifinals, closer to home, a group of fans gathered at Pit and Tap in Wilmette to cheer the team on at a watch party.

More than 50 Trevians supporters gathered at the restaurant — with others also gathered at Winnetka’s Fred’s Garage and Wilmette’s Backyard Barbecue store — on March 8, glued to the big screen above the bar and erupting when New Trier scored and sharing nervous glances whenever Homewood-Flossmoor took the lead.

Excitement and anticipation hung in the air, as did a palpable sense of community. Many of those in attendance also were at Pit and Tap’s watch party a year ago when the Trevians also advanced to state.

Steve Weir (arms raised) and friends cheer on the Trevians on Friday night.

New Trier alumna Nicole Boomgarden was a returning spectator who wanted to show her support for the team.

“They’ve got a couple great seniors,” she said. “Ian Brown and (Will) Leemaster. They’re strong so I think they have a really good chance (at winning).”

The rainy weather across the North Shore on Friday did not deter her or the others from coming out.

“We live local so obviously the community is strong here,” she said “We support New Trier, our New Trier families.”

Nina Friedman’s children were in Champaign to see the game in person, so she and the rest of her family decided to watch from Wilmette.

“It’s exciting for the players and their families I’m sure, but for the whole community, it’s just something that’s fun to root for,” she said. “Something that people can all come together and enjoy.”

Friedman was another returner to the watch party, and described it as “Good atmosphere, good drinks, good food. What more could you ask for?”

For one family in attendance, there may have been a small test of loyalty going on.

Pit & Tap’s Michael Clarke mixes a drink with the New Trier basketball game on behind him.

While all of Dick Seidel’s children either attended or will attend New Trier, he is a Homewood-Flossmoor alumnus, and even played on the school’s basketball team in the 1980s.

“We went downstate and got third place in 1985, so this is kind of like going home again,” he said. “It was the year they played in the championships as well, so it’s the same stadium.

“Funny, it’s like a big circle.”

Despite his former team competing against his current rooting interest, Seidel said there really isn’t much of a rivalry going on.

“We love it here, so it’s not as much of a rivalry with the family,” he said. “I win no matter what.”

New Trier came up a bit short in their quest for a state title, taking a dramatic 40-35 loss to H-F, their supporters in Wilmette were still proud of them. Once the final buzzer sounded, the entire restaurant erupted in applause and cheers.

Pit and Tap’s owner, Michael Clarke, said the restaurant is proud to support local sports.

“We love to support all of the teams,” Clarke said. “Besides having a watch party here, we always have a New Trier hockey game on if it’s available. We’ve had watch parties for Loyola (Academy), as well as for any other football games. We love to put it up on the big screen and have people come and gather and root for our team together.”

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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