Losing Grandma: WVSU Dennis Gardeck

Gardeck's tattoo commemorating  loving Grandma
Gardeck’s tattoo commemorating loving Grandma Carol

Lake in the Hills, IL- The Gardeck family goes way back with me. I met Terri and Jim when I was blessed with the opportunity to coach young Ian when he was playing baseball with Lake in the Hills little league. The 4 kids Ian, Andrew, Dennis and Alex (Bubba) were and still are great young gentlemen. Good job Mom and Dad!

While coaching Ian I met Carol Toomey. Carol was Terri’s mom and the Gardeck boy’s Grandma. She was a fantastic Grandma and would help carting the boys all over town as they flew from one activity to another. You see, if you were a Gardeck, you were active.

Gregory V. Monroe Athletic Center at WVSU

Grandma never said to much to me other than the pleasantries normally associated with little league baseball. As time went on though I noticed she would enjoy my rather “strict disciplinary guidance” that I employed with our team. Carol was like me when it came to being tough on kids, love ’em but be tough too. Grandma Carol passed away much too soon. I miss her, she was the Cat’s Meow, baby!

Here is an awesome podcast+ featuring Gardeck Son Number 3, Dennis. He is currently a red shirt junior at West Virginia State University and is a key part of the resurgent Yellow Jackets. The young men have very high expectations next season and have a local flavor to their coaching staff. Tony Benedetto, Crystal Lake South HS and University of Sioux Falls grad, is Dennis’ defensive coordinator at WVSU. Other Yellow Jackets defensive coaches: James Groce, Ryan Bailey & Zach Cook. Read Coach B breakdown his thoughts on Dennis and his defensive responsibilities. This will be a great journey through the eyes and mind of a young man who’s life is only beginning. Enjoy!

Coach Benedetto has nothing but respect for Dennis, “What has made Dennis a successful college football player is his work ethic, discipline, and determination towards the game of football. He will not be outworked. On the field/weight room or in the classroom.  He has a 3.94 GPA (team best). He sets the bar very high and once he reaches that level he moves the bar up.  He came into our football program and has improved every single year.  Because he focuses on daily improvement rather than dealing on past accomplishments.”

“His positive influence on our football team has pushed his teammates get better on a daily basis.  Dennis is a leader of our defense and football team.  His influence in a positive way towards his teammates has allowed our team to improve. His mindset allows him to stay focused on daily improvement.”



The Gardeck Family having fun with their beloved Grandma

Benedetto comes from a fine bloodline himself. His dad, Frank Benedetto was a great coach in his own right at CLS HS. He was sophomore head coach for my son Danny’s undefeated season. Benedetto the Younger has some nice props on his own: defensive captain of the 2008 USF National Champion team that went 14-0.

Son Tony sees some of himself in Dennis, “He is a man of high character and is a tremendous young man to have in our football program. He has been a big part of why we have been able to turn our football program in the right direction.”

Coach Benedetto went on,”He embodies our core values that Coach Jon Anderson (our head coach) has set for our football program. Coach  Isaiah Jackson (our linebacker coach)  does a great job with Dennis, focusing improving his mindset/technique/and football IQ on a daily basis. We are a 3-4 Defense that will show multiple fronts, blitzes, and coverages.  To provide the best match ups for our players week in and out – throughout the course of the season..”

WVSU has their sights on a conference title and the [xx] have put a lot of faith in Dennis. “Our defense is built on trust, accountability, and family.  We must all be on the same page and do our job at a high level of consistency.  Consistency at a high level, will define our success for this upcoming season. We finished in the top 3 in sacks, tackles-for-loss, and creating turnovers last season in the conference. Every year we have improved our ranking in the conference ranking in defending the run.  Yards per attempt.”

Benedetto continues, “We lead the conference in interceptions 2 out of the last 3 years. Last season our  2015 Team (Offense/Defense/Special Teams)  We broke 35 Individual/team school records. Our first season we took a defense that was 125th   (the year before we got here )in the nation in creating turnovers, to 17th in the nation in 2013. Our first season we took a defense that was 135th (the year before we got here ) in the nation in interceptions to,  11th in interceptions in the nation in 2013.”

I don’t know about you but I am a new Yellow Jackets fan. This team will have a breakout year. I know because Grandma Carol will be watching and cheering.