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Spartans Senior Defenseman Sean Crowley Treasures Time With His Buddy, Kavin

By Ross Forman, 03/14/24, 3:00PM CDT


Sean Crowley, a senior for the co-op Spartans, is the team’s enforcer. His mom simply refers to him as the team bodyguard. Crowley says he just doesn’t let anyone “mess with my boys, especially my goalie.”

The 17-year-old Crowley who attends Lockport High School and lives in Lockport is a right-handed shooting defenseman and is an assistant captain, as he was during his sophomore season.

“I was a forward my whole life until my sophomore year. We were short defensemen and when (our) coach asked for volunteers, I raised my hand,” Crowley said. “I miss the glory of scoring goals, but there’s nothing better than throwing a good, clean hit.”

As a sophomore, he was named Defenseman of the Year, which ranks among his career highlights.

“My older brother Jack has been my biggest influence because he taught me everything I know about hockey and being a good human,” Crowley said.

Enter, Best Buddies International, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Crowley has been part of Best Buddies for the past three years – and Kavin is the team’s No. 1 fan. He has been going to Spartans’ games for as long as Crowley can remember.

“I get to hang out with Kavin and have a lot of fun with him and everyone else in Best Buddies,” Crowley said with pride. “Kavin and I dressed up as Mario and Luigi this past Halloween for the Best Buddies Trunk or Treat. I thought for sure we would win the best costume prize.”

Best Buddies, he said, “means that I get to hang out with Kavin and see him have fun with his friends.”

Such as, a recent bingo night.

Crowley and Kavin have been friends since eighth grade.

Kavin has been going to Spartans’ games since Jack Crowley was a sophomore.

“I have spent the last two summers with Kavin at Camp Soar. We have the best time, playing basketball, doing crafts, etc.,” Crowley said. “Kavin makes me laugh so hard. He is literally one of the funniest people I know. I get 144 service hours for going and, to be honest, those don’t even matter. I had so much fun there with Kavin and the other campers.

“Kavin is the best fan in the league. Of all the games I have been to in the four years I’ve been playing with the Spartans, I have never seen anyone care half as much as Kavin,” Crowley said. “He is our biggest critic and is correct 100 percent of the time.”

Crowley, for instance, knows that if he doesn’t play well, yep, he will hear about it from Kavin. “He shoots straight and is very honest,” Crowley said.

“Kavin inspires me to just enjoy the little things, like he does. For instance, one Spartans win will make him so happy until our next game. I try to do the same, enjoy and cherish the small things.”

Crowley said his fondest memory with Kavin was when they were dancing on the basketball court at a recent dance party that Camp Soar held.

“You never know the connection you might make, or the lives you might change,” said Crowley, proudly talking about his passion for Best Buddies.

Crowley, who has played four seasons for the Spartans, formerly played for the Arctic Jr. Fury. The Spartans feature players from Lemont, Bolingbrook and Romeoville – and he cherishes his new friends from hockey, which he strongly said, “will be friends for the rest of my life.”

“My favorite moment this season was when we won on senior night because the barn was packed and the energy was so high,” said Crowley.

The No. 24-seeded Spartans opened the Illinois High School Hockey State Tournament on Sunday, February 11, against the No. 9 Belvidere Fury in Loves Park.

Off ice, Crowley enjoys golfing and spending time with family and friends. And he plays lacrosse, too. This spring with be his second on the school’s varsity lacrosse team.

“Lacrosse helps me with how I line up my hits because you have to be perfect to hit someone when they are running,” he said. “This is likely the last season I will play organized hockey. To all the kids out there reading this: enjoy every shift, every goal, every hit. It goes by faster than you can ever imagine. Playing this sport is a privilege. Enjoy every second, and always remember to thank your parents for letting you play. Not all kids out there are lucky enough to do what we do.”