Illinois star Katelynn Buescher, a Naperville North graduate, makes a save bigger than football.  "For her, there was no other option."

Katelynn Buescher he plans to dedicate his life to helping others.

That is why Buescher, the 2018 Naperville Sun Girls Soccer Player of the Year who played football for four years in Illinois, is training to become a speech pathologist.

But Buescher, a Naperville North graduate, has already made a difference. She was honored as a hero for saving a man’s life last December in Urbana.

“I was driving and I saw police lights ahead and as I was driving by I saw a police officer starting CPR on a man,” Buescher said. “So I stopped.

“The police officer was alone and said, ‘There’s one more man down here, can you help?’”

Several men had been working on the roof of a building when their ladder tipped back and hit an electrical wire, electrocuting two and causing them to fall three stories to the ground.

When Buescher, who is certified in CPR, checked on the second man, he was not breathing.

“I took her pulse, couldn’t find anything, so I started CPR and then this nurse ran after me,” Buescher said. “She couldn’t find a pulse, so we rotated CPR.

“I heard an ambulance coming after five minutes and I thought, ‘Oh, thank God, I’m exhausted.'”

Paramedics assisted the police officer with the first man, so Buescher and the nurse had to continue giving chest compressions to the second victim.

Five minutes later another ambulance arrived.

“Our CPR was so good that it was pumping enough blood to his brain that he was somewhat conscious,” Buescher said. “While we were working, EMS put him on heart rate monitors and it was horrible to watch.

“We stopped so they could start work and you could see how it stalled. They had this new automated CPR machine and defibrillator and they blew him away.”

Buescher was scared but kept his cool. Another worker, a teenager, was stranded on the roof and was yelling in Spanish.

“I had a Spanish major, so I helped them get in touch with the police officer to find out what happened,” Buescher said. “I’m pretty proud of how well I did with Spanish because that’s not the kind of thing you learn in class.”

Naperville North Coach Steve Goletz He’s also proud of Buescher, a midfielder who led the Huskies to third place in the state his senior year in 2018.

“Katelynn was always such a natural leader, someone who always did the right thing, both on and off the field,” Goletz said. “That is a great credit to her parents and all the people who were lucky enough to be close to her when she was younger.

“Obviously, something like this requires a lot of courage. For her, there was no other option. It wasn’t one of those things that she did to get attention.”

The Urbana Fire Department honored Buescher with a certificate of appreciation at a news conference. She has not met the man she saved.

“I felt bad because I got a lot of publicity,” Buescher said. “There was a TV station that wanted me to meet him, but I didn’t feel that was respectful.

“But the fire chief said he made a full recovery.”

Buescher played defense for Illinois, recording four assists in 46 appearances despite missing parts of two seasons due to surgeries to repair torn labrums in both hips.

Buescher has opted to play a fifth season as a graduate student at Illinois State, where he will reunite with former Shaina Dudas, Naperville North teammate.

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“I wanted to go to a school that had a speech pathology program that was really client-focused and not necessarily research-focused,” Buescher said. “There aren’t a lot of programs that fit what I wanted to do and play football too, and Illinois State has an awesome clinic.”

Buescher ultimately wants to work with stroke victims and premature babies.

She feels like she was in the right place at the right time last December, but those who know her weren’t surprised by her actions.

Loyola star Abby Swanson, an aspiring nurse, played with Buescher on the Naperville Soccer Association club team that won a national title in 2018.

“I’m not surprised at all that she saw someone who needed help and jumped right away,” Swanson said. “She’s just connected that way.

“She would be one of the ones I would want if I ever felt unwell or something was wrong with me.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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