BEVERLY — Mary Kate Love briefly entertained the idea of setting up a batting cage for the talent portion of the Chicago Rose of Tralee competition.
Love earned her ticket to compete in the upcoming pageant after being named 2015 South Side Irish Parade Queen on Feb. 21.
The 26-year-old from Beverly will also lead the way on Sunday at the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade after winning the competition. Love will appear in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday downtown, too.
Love is the ideal candidate for South Side Queen for many of the reasons you might expect. She's proud of her Irish heritage that she's traced back to Limerick and Donegal. She was born and raised on the South Side, growing up and attending school at St. Bede the Venerable Parish in Scottsdale.
Howard Ludwig says Love represents the South Side well:
She later graduated from Queen of Peace High School in southwest suburban Burbank and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She works at UI Labs, a Chicago-based start-up that's dedicated to bringing universities, government and industry together.
And all that being said, Love more likely to be found competing in a 16-inch softball game at Mount Greenwood Park than in an evening gown competition. She plays Chicago's signature, bare-hand sport about three times a week throughout the summer.
"I don't sing, and I don't dance," Love said Monday.
What she does do rather well is play third base without a glove. She broke her thumb playing 16-inch softball last year. She broke her middle finger during a game in 2012.
"I hit a triple after [her middle finger] was broken," said Love, boasting of her toughness.
Love's also been known to play in several women's flag football leagues on the Far South Side — sometimes for charity and other times for sport.
"I love being a competitor and then having a drink with people after the game," said Love, who moved to Beverly with her parents in 2005.
As the South Side Irish Parade Queen, Love receives a sponsorship from the parade committee to compete in the Chicago Rose of Tralee. Love will participate in the event on March 22 at Gaelic Park in south suburban Oak Forest.
The winner of the Chicago Rose of Tralee will receive an all-expense paid trip to Ireland to compete in the international contest during a two-night televised event in Tralee, Ireland.
Reflecting on her newfound title as South Side Irish Parade queen, Love said the whole process has been exciting and good fit for her personality — a home run of sorts.
"All of the stuff on the application was stuff that came very natural to me," she said.
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