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True Champion: DePaul Women’s Basketball Inspired By Down Syndrome Manager

After Tuesday night’s win over Seton Hall, the DePaul University women’s basketball team captured the Big East championship for a second straight season. Two years in a row is something to be proud of for sure, but for Maureen Dillon it’s been over two decades of being a true champion.

Since the early 1990s, Dillon has been a manager for the Blue Demons women’s squad. Only DePaul coach Doug Bruno has been there longer and he only has Dillon by a few years. Like Bruno, Dillon is truly a fixture in the program. Fittingly, the two have a special connection.

The relationship between coach and manager goes deeper than hoops. Dillon is actually Bruno’s sister in-law. When Bruno played for the DePaul men’s team he was dating Patty Dillon. His girlfriend already had eleven siblings when in 1972 Maureen was born. The thirteenth Dillon child, like the twelve before her, entered a home filled with love and laughter. Unlike her brothers and sisters, Maureen Dillon had Down syndrome.

Lovers of life, the Dillon family took on the challenge of raising their new addition with excitement and joy. This tight knit Chicagoland family was well ahead of their time when it came to acceptance and inclusion of a Down syndrome child.

The nurturing paid off. Maureen went on to participate in the Special Olympics and later took on her now familiar role as Demons manager. The support from her family, including her godfather Bruno, played a big part.

Just like the Dillons and Bruno have had Maureen’s back all these years, she’s also had their’s–serving as an inspiration to her family and every woman who has donned the royal blue and scarlet uniform.

Maureen Dillon is a major part of the DePaul program. She’s there at all home games and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. It’s not uncommon to hear her delivering a locker room speech or offering words of encouragement to the players. They should listen. After all, the sentiments are coming from someone who knows this program about as well as anyone.

DePaul returns to the NCAA Tournament. The Big East champions are led on the floor by the likes of Brittany Hrynko, Megan Podkowa, and Chanise Jenkins. Off the floor the program is propelled by Maureen Dillon–just as it has been for over 20 years.

 

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