LaGrange Park, IL- Nazareth is 24 hours from kick off against Lincoln-Way West in tomorrow’s IHSA Class 5A State Final. The game will played in DeKalb at NIU’s Huskie Stadium at 10:00 am. The #7 seed Roadrunners and the #7 seed Vikings both sport 11-2 records and are very highly regarded on offense and defense. Today in the third of our “Road To DeKalb” series we are going to highlight some of the upper management tasked with the job of getting the Nazareth juggernaut prepared for their exciting journey to glory.
Dr.’s Tom Nelson and Eric Janota are the glue that keeps the Roadrunners together from a physiological and psychological standpoint. The duo keep our boys tuned for both the prevention and treatment of the myriad of afflictions that a high school football team faces during the long and arduous season. The good Doctors implement an innovative technique called Activation to address many of the concerns Head Coach Tim Racki has regarding his football team.
Activation is a holistic approach to keeping the body and mind in sync, with proper breathing an utmost priority. Founder and developer Douglas Heel, a physical therapist from South Africa, initially won over Dr. Nelson with this new and unorthodox method. Nelson eventually convinced Janota and Racki of the awesome benefits to the ‘Activation Way’. (Editors note: coming soon an in depth story on Heel, Nelson, Janota and Racki and the Activation process.)
Nelson on starting the Activation movement at Nazareth, “It wasn’t until the third year (2014) we got it right. We had two years (2012/2013) of mistakes.” Of course, 2014 was the first state championship for Roadrunners football. Coincidence? Many do not think so. Nelson continued, “Breathing is the most powerful part. Activation, in part, is about creating imagery. We have to make an unsafe environment safe for the boys. Be positive, keep them relaxed vs tense. The reason it (Activation) works at Nazareth is because you need the CEO to buy in and he did (Racki). Society is too negative, so we need to make the boys feel they are playing in a safe environment.”
I sat down for lunch at a Panera’s for a talk with Dr. Eric recently. Here is some of what he said, “Activation is more than just the sports side of it. We want the boys to carry the good habits taught and learned to be with them for life. We want the spiritual aspect of what we are teaching them to be beneficial and help them lead good and productive lives. This serves as a life lesson and we feel we are doing a service for the boys.” Well put, Dr. J.
The CEO and main architect of what is called the “Brotherhood”, mentioned first to me by QB Carson Bartels, is the very successful Head Coach, Tim Racki. He has been at Nazareth since 2005 after leading the Driscoll HS football program for 13 years. Racki won four state championships while at Driscoll and one last year with the Roadrunners. We spoke with Racki after the victory over St. Laurence last week in the 5A semi finals.
“The win feels great. I’m really happy for the kids. The two losses we had this year (@ Marian Central HS & @ Joliet Catholic Academy) really helped us in the playoffs. I’ve never seen a team that’s learned from past failures this well. I tell them that you’re gonna have more failures than successes in life. It’s learning from those times, when you don’t succeed, that’s gonna make you better.” Racki articulated.
He continued, “From when we were up in the game at Woodstock (vs Marian 19-0 in the 3rd quarter) and the first time against JCA (down big early only to have a great comeback fall just short), the kids learned from it. The maturity level of this team, I’m very impressed with. They are very intelligent and not a big ‘rah rah’ team. They like to be loose. It’s been a real fun ride and great to be a part of.”
I asked the coach what it feels like to be going for his 6th state championship. Here is what he said,” I’m blessed. I’m good at surrounding myself with a very intelligent coaching staff that cares about the kids. Of course, it’s the kids who make the tackles and score the touchdowns. They listen to me and the coaches. And you know the Brotherhood and the Family and unity that we have and that really adds to it.” Racki continued, “The kids have developed a sense of selflessness and a drive to work hard for the guy next to him that will serve them well in life.”
A very impressive management team, that also includes Nazareth President Dennis Moran, directs the outstanding Nazareth Roadrunner football program with a passion for excellence. Excellence on AND more importantly, off the field. It’s not too surprising that they are so darn good!
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