Loukas Friends, Family Gather for Olympic Watch
Impromptu party at Cubby Bear North organized to support Riverwoods’ Christina Loukas dive in Olympic finals.
When you want to watch a good friend or a girl you knew since infancy compete in the Olympics what do you do if you are not in London for the Games Sunday?
In the case of more than 50 friends and family of Deerfield High School graduate Christina Loukas, you go to church in the morning and then head for the Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire, an establishment owned by Christina’s parents, Patty and George Loukas.
The impromptu party was more than cheering for Loukas. It was a way of supporting a family which has been an important part of their lives as well. It was organized by Penny Amarantos of Lake Forest, a close friend of Patty Loukas.
“We want to cheer from here since we can’t be there,” Amarantos said. “If we can’t be one of the 27 friends and family who are over there (in London) we all want to see her here.”
A group picture was taken outside the bar and restaurant under the Cubby Bear marquis which was wishing Christina Loukas well. “Go for the Gold,” it read. The photo was snapped 10 minutes before the diver began to compete and emailed to her parents sitting in the Aquatic Center in London.
“This party is a surprise,” Amarantos said. “We want her to know we’re here.”
Many of the people in the group started the day at St. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview. Pastor Jim Dokos came to the party with the group after a number of people thought about the Loukas family at services.
“We announced the news of the Olympics,” Dokos said when asked if a prayer was said for his parishioner competing Sunday. “This is a happy day. They do a lot of good work for the church and the community,” he added about the Loukas family.
A number of people who have known Christina much of her life are thrilled about her success but not surprised. When she was in fourth grade she joined a co-ed softball team. “She was the pitcher,” Greek Junior Olympic organizer John Dedes said. “And there were high school kids on the team.”
Another early coach, Dave Johnsen knew Christina was a special athlete very early. “She was eight and she was better than the 10-year old boys,” he said of her exploits on the baseball field.
Some of Christina Loukas’ contemporaries like Billy Amarantos, a former Lake Forest High School diver and teammate of Loukas at the Windy City Diving Club, saw something special when Loukas gave up gymnastics for diving.
“She started kicking everyone’s butt,” Billy Amarantos said. “She was scoring so much more than anyone else. In her senior year she beat everyone by 30 points,” he added about an Illinois state record that still stands.
For Angelo Loukas, Christina’s uncle, it was very simple. “She is athletically and academically very smart,” he said. She is an overachiever.”