Back to school: Two alumni return to coach where they once played


2009 U-Highlights yearbook

In this image from the 2009 U-Highlights yearbook, Alexis Jenkins, Class of 2009, shoots a free throw during a game. Jenkins, alongside assistant soccer coach Elan Weiner, has returned to coach at U-High.

An Ngo, City Life Editor

“Honestly, Lab is kind of in a time capsule,” Elan Weiner, an assistant coach for both the boys and girls soccer teams, said. 

Laboratory Schools alumni, like Mr. Weiner, who have returned to the school to coach the sports teams they once played on, now work alongside many of the teachers who they knew during high school. Mr. Weiner and girls basketball head coach Alexis Jenkins returned to Lab in hopes of passing on the lessons they learned through playing sports at Lab.

This past summer, Mr. Weiner returned to the Laboratory Schools to work in the athletics department, 14 years after graduating from U-High in 2007. Many of the faces at Lab have remained familiar to him, like Sharon Housinger and Terry Shanks, who both worked at Lab while he was in school.

During his time at Lab, Mr. Weiner played on the soccer team coached by Michael Moses, who is still a P.E. teacher at Lab. Similarly, Ms. Jenkins graduated from U-High in 2009 and was coached by P.E. teacher Meghan Janda.

When Ms. Jenkins found herself back home in Chicago with the opportunity to coach a U-High basketball team, she happily took it with the hope of giving back to the team she played on. After she graduated from U-High, she played basketball at Illinois State University.

“Definitely enjoy giving back to the community and giving back to Lab,” Ms. Jenkins said. “And just trying to foster kids who want to not just play basketball, but you know, learn sports and I really am an advocate for kids playing sports.”

Ms. Jenkins said she still keeps in touch with players who have graduated and feels she’s had a positive impact on many of the girls. She wants the girls on her team to learn how to be leaders and has enjoyed watching many of them develop from new players in ninth grade to senior leaders.

“Your life on the court and off the court is just so similar to how you play basketball, in it’s learning accountability and trust, and ultimately love, you know, loving each other,” Ms. Jenkins said. “And do whatever you need to do on that court to succeed and just have a heart and you have a goal and you set to do something.”

Your life on the court and off the court is just so similar to how you play basketball, in it’s learning accountability and trust, and ultimately love, you know, loving each other.”

— Alexis Jenkins

Like Mr. Weiner, Ms. Jenkins said the school today still feels much like the school she attended 13 years ago. Though she did note that there have been advancements in the opportunities and support for girls sports teams at Lab. 

Though not much has changed about the school, from the faces of teachers and staff to the gym building itself, these graduates certainly have changed, even if sometimes they forget.

“It’s different being here as an adult,” Mr. Weiner said. “I forget that I have the keys to things. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, like, let me get that.” Kids are like asking me for stuff. It’s surreal.”