Lake in the Hills, IL- Nobody ever counts out the Nazareth Academy football team. After two tough losses during the regular season (Marian Central Catholic HS and Joliet Catholic HS) last year, the Roadrunners rebounded and went on to win the 2015 IHSA 5a championship. Their second consecutive state title saw them cruise past Lincoln-Way West HS (11-2) 42-21 in the finals in DeKalb.
I had the great chance to have a Q & A with seniors Devonte’ Dunn, Cameron Weems and junior Austin Reifsteck. Thanks to my relationship with Dr Tom Nelson and Roadrunners football head coach Tim Racki, I have been granted inside access to the great Nazareth program. I am treated with respect and a courtesy that makes me feel like I am one of them.
High school sports are so important to the development of our young people. Along with education and service to society, athletics help mold our precious gifts from God. I have great hope for the future of our country because of the student athletes I have met.
- Devonte’ Dunn, senior mega star. Beast like in his determination and work ethic. This amateur thespian will matriculate at the University of Toledo, where he was blessed with a full scholarship. He is listed at 6′ 2″ and 280.
Q- What does leadership mean to you?
DD- Leadership is a huge role for the team. Leadership will take you a long way in the season and even in life! We had this saying for being a leader “Bad teams have no leaders. Good teams have coach leaders. Great teams have coach and player leaders.” It’s a huge responsibility to be a role model to the younger guys but I’ve been watching and experiencing the older guys that have worn the jersey before me being leaders on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and I’ve picked up on that really quick. I understand that this team is a family… It’s a brotherhood… There is no me team… There is no selfishness… We play together for 48 minutes as a team… But even though I was named captain for the team… I’m not the only leader out there… You have seniors like Cameron Weems, Chris Sampleton, Tom Henehan, Nick Lugo, AJ Rouse, Mark Mercado, Roger Veome, Aiden Bresnahan, Victor Austin who will always give it their all in practice and on game days and take the underclassman under our wings and guide them the right way. You also have a lot of Juniors and Sophomores that are stepping up and showing that they will become leaders one day such as Gavin Smith, Wesley Loans, Isaiah Lee, Austin Reifsteck, David Oglesby, Josh Oglesby, Michael Love… You have so much leadership on the team that we are all bless with.
Q- What makes Coach Racki so good?
DD- Coach Racki has done it all! I’ve known Coach Racki ever since I was in 8th grade. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s been a great role model to me and some of the other guys for years. What makes Coach Racki so good is that he’s not just a football guy. He loves to joke around with the guys, he loves to spend time with his family, and he is also the Dean of Students, so he makes sure that everyone is staying on task and doing what they’re suppose to be doing. Coach Racki is helping us not only as a great football player and preparing us for college football, but he is helping us to get ready for life and by doing that is making us become outstanding young men. Coach Racki always has his door open to talk, he stays on us about our grades, he jokes around with everyone, he knows when to do work. I have to say that Coach Racki has been the best head coach I have ever played for. As a coach he is great but getting to know him as a person is something I will never forget. These 4 years in high school with Coach Racki… I would definitely do it all over again.
- Austin Reifsteck, junior, Master of Controlled Disaster. Plays LB, RB, Wing and Slot Receiver. Started as a sophomore. Tenacious and tough. Mr. Reifsteck is 6′ and 220 and still growing.
Q- First, congrats on your teams success. Tell us how you look at the role of being a leader with such a solid group of seniors in place already?
AR- The seniors now and the seniors before them have taught me a lot about being a team leader. The qualities I believe that a good leader must have and that I embody is to lead by example, be a good communicator, being a good role model, and being a good teacher. Being a good leader is someone who embodies those qualities and walks the walk versus talking.
Q- What it is like to play for Coach Racki and his fantastic stable of coaches?
AR- I love playing for Coach Racki and his staff. Coach Racki knows there is a time to play and there is a time to take things seriously. He expects a lot from us and he expects us to be leaders and role models on and off the field. He expects us at all time to represent Naz in a positive light. His coaching staff has many of years of coaching at the high school level and several of them are actually graduates of Nazareth. They understand the sacrifice balancing academics and athletics. Coach Racki and his staff have taught me so much more about taking lessons on the football field and applying them in my daily life to be a better person.
Q- How is recruiting going for you? Do you enjoy the process?
AR- The recruiting process is very strenuous and stressful. The part of the recruiting process that I do not enjoy and is the most stressful is figuring out the best route to get my information in front of the coaches at the colleges that I would like to visit.
- Cameron Weems, a senior. He is one of the Roadrunners ultimate team leaders. Cam walks the walk and leaves the talk to his opponents. Super hard worker and plays football like The Tasmanian Devil. Being courted by many colleges. Listed at 5′ 11″ and 186.
Q- Congrats on your past successes. What does it mean to be a Roadrunner in your senior year?
CW- Thank you! It means a lot! It’s crazy to think that it’s my senior year already! Being a Roadrunner now in my opinion is being selfless. The program has built on the concept of family and having “We” before “Me”. I’ll play anywhere the team needs me to play and do what the team needs me to do.
Q- What makes Coach Racki so darned good?
CW- What makes Coach Racki so good is the fact that he’s using the concept of football to make you an overall better student, son, brother, person, and man. Not just an athlete. His guidance doesn’t stop on the field. It carries over to our lives off the field. Coach Racki never gives up on an player. He’s definitely been a huge inspiration in my life for the past 3 years
Q- How is the recruitment process going?
CW- The recruiting process is definitely a crazy system but I’m not worried about it. Sure, I have a lot of interest from different schools but I’ve made sure that I’ve focused on the season. I haven’t let recruiting affect how I play or worry me throughout the weeks. I’m just having fun for my senior season.