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Spartan volleyball team to host scholarship fundraiser at October 5 home match

SJO head coach Abby McDonald shakes hands with an IHSA administrator before receiving her third-place medal at the IHSA Volleyball State Finals in 2019. The 13-year veteran coach and her volleyball program are raising funds for a new scholarship program to honor former educator and football coach Dick Duval. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team will host a fundraiser to create a scholarship fund in the name of former longtime head football coach Dick Duval at its October 5 home game against Monticello.

Duval, who built SJO into a respected Class 3A powerhouse football program, passed away on August 26. Not only was he a math teacher and the school's athletic director for many years, but was also a member of the SJO Hall of Fame and Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His career coaching record is an impressive 251 wins against 75 losses during his tenure with the Spartans.

Head coach Abby McDonald, who took over the head coach position at SJO in 2008, believes in the importance of her players giving back and leads the varsity, JV, and freshman teams in administering projects to benefit someone or an organization in the community.

"At least once while they are in high school, I like our girls to do some sort of community service project at one of our matches - something to give back to the community because the community does some much for them and for us," McDonald said.

Last year, because of the state's Covid mitigation, the team did not have a project to work on. The program's last effort was a fundraiser for a fellow player who had cancer.

"Coach Duval is such a huge part of who I am as a coach but also a huge supporter of all SJO athletics," McDonald said. Like Duval, she immediately made an impact after taking the reins, building the volleyball program into one that consistently makes deep postseason runs, including two IHSA final four appearances. "We wanted to do something to show support to his family and to continue his legacy. We thought a scholarship in his name, for hopefully several years to come, will be exactly the way we would want his legacy to continue."

For the main event, the Spartans will square off against Illini Prairie Conference foe Monticello. Duval, after retiring from the St. Joseph-Ogden school district, returned to teaching as a substitute teacher and taught mathematics at Monticello.

"There will be several opportunities to support the fundraiser," McDonald pointed out. There will be a pork chop dinner special, a silent auction, t-shirts for sale, and more in addition to the traditional 50/50 contest. "The girls are doing some different fundraiser opportunities. They are going to have pumpkins to buy that they have been working on."

She is hoping for a good turnout at the Tuesday evening match to help seed the scholarship fund so it will be available to SJO graduates entering college for decades to come.

"The more money we raise, the more years we can name a scholarship winner in his name."

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