ELMHURST, Ill. — For a woman who was never into sports, Dena Seidenfuss sure spends a lot of time dragging around equipment.
For 17 years, Seidenfuss has been at Access Sports in Elmhurst, ensuring all kids have a chance to get in the game.
This isn’t a story about coaching as much as it’s about a mom going to bat for her specially abled son.
“I really wanted my son to be able to play, wear the uniforms, hoist the trophies play on the same fields and have the same connection just the same way other kids have with their peers,” Seidenfuss said.
“And then someone said to me ‘why don’t you start your own?’ and I’m like oh, maybe I could do that!”
The beginning of what is now known as “Access Sports.”
In their first year, she had six kids, along with her own four at home. Today, Access Sports has grown from six kids and one sport to 80 participants and four sports every year.
Behind an easy smile and sweet giggle is a woman working a complicated playbook.
“She’s a full time teacher, tutors other kids that need help with reading, raised four beautiful children of her own,” Seidenfuss’s mother Pat Venziano said.
And now a fifth child, after taking in her late sister’s 15-year-old son last year.
“She said if anything happens to me you’re gonna take him right, you got him. Of course! I got him. Nothing is going to happen to you and then something did,” Seidenfuss said. “She was so brave through the cancer. She fought it like no one I’ve ever seen fight it”
Den’a nephew, Jaxson Venziano, has not only navigated his way through a hard year, but found a perfect role as an assistant coach to Auntie Dena’s sports program.
“She does a lot,” Jaxson said. “Very hardworking, always doing something, she’s really, really great.”
Dena Seidenfuss doesn’t know what the second half of the game holds, but credits her “team” of family and young athletes for making Access Sports what it is today.
She’s first in and last out. This non-sports mom has allowed countless young people to realize their potential as athletes.
“If there’s anyone that’s remarkable, it’s her,” Dena’s mother said.
To learn more about Access Sports, click here.
Watch Dena Seidenfuss‘ full Remarkable Women feature in the video player above.
March is Women’s History Month and Nexstar and WGN are recognizing the great contributions women have made in our community. Throughout the month, four finalists for the 2023 Woman of the Year award will be highlighted.