Leo High School is the proud owner of a rich athletic heritage, one of the most storied in the Chicago Catholic League as well as the entire Chicago area.
Under Hall of Fame COACH ED ADAMS, Leo’s track team has won seven state championships overall, six at the Class-A level, including back-to-back titles in 2011-12, and one at 2-A. That’s far and away the most for any Catholic or private school in Illinois. RYAN SHIELDS ’02 is one of the most decorated sprinters in state history, sweeping the 100, 200 and 400-meter races for the Lions from 2000 to 2002, an unprecedented feat.
The Lions claim one other state championship, in basketball, achieved at the Class A level in 2004. Under COACH NOAH CANNON ’95, a former Leo point guard, the Lions made a return trip Downstate in 2009, finishing third, and played for sectional championships in 2012 and 2014. KEELAN DONALD, a starting forward on the ‘04 state champions, is a member of the Leo coaching staff.
The name Leo has been synonymous with football success for much of the school’s 88-year history, and 2013 was a banner season as the Lions reached the semifinals of the Class 1-A state playoffs. The Lions lost to eventual state champion Lena-Winslow in bitterly cold conditions, but their 10-3 record included a fourth Catholic League Red Division title in five seasons, a Tony Lawless Coach of the Year award for COACH MICHAEL HOLMES ’76 and All-State recognition for halfback/defensive back THEO HOPKINS and defensive tackle TERRON BELL.
Hopkins (Illinois State) and Bell (Wisconsin-Eau Claire) are the latest in a long line of Holmes-coached Lions who have gone on to play college football. The list includes KEITH HARRIS, Leo’s Class of 2012 valedictorian, an All-State running back and state champion sprinter who scored a touchdown for Northern Illinois on his first collegiate carry against Iowa at Soldier Field in 2012.
Longtime Leo baseball coach BOB SCHABLASKE retired after leading the Lions to the Catholic Red Division title in 2012 and a share of it in 2011. MIKE ANDERSON ’91 has replaced Schablaske and is working to build on that success. Leo’s baseball legacy includes former big league pitchers JIM O’TOOLE (Cincinnati Reds) and TOM BRENNAN (Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers), as well as JOHN BOLES, who helped restore Leo’s baseball program in 1966 and went on to become the Florida Marlins’ manager after a long and distinguished career as a college coach.
Leo is one of the few Chicago high schools to offer an interscholastic boxing program. Under former Lion and professional manager/trainer MIKE JOYCE, some Leo athletes learn to box competitively, some train with the boxers to stay in shape for other sports and some enter the program to improve their fitness and self-confidence. Former Lion JOHN COLLINS ’79 fought for the world middleweight title in 1986, and THOMAS HAYES ’99 won 27 of 29 pro fights campaigning as a heavyweight from 2002-2007. In addition, the late LAMARR FENNER ’02 served as captain of USA Boxing’s National team in 2006, and MARIO BULLOCK ’03 boxed collegiately while earning a degree and an officer’s commission at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Leo also competes at the IHSA level in cross country, bowling and chess. The chess team has been a state qualifier in each of the last three seasons.