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Loving the Grind: Alex Kube and Elite 7


East Dundee, IL- was honored to spend some time with Alex Kube and Ian Gardeck at the Elite 7 Training facility in East Dundee, Illinois. Check out their website for a closer look at Elite 7. Kube, former Cary-Grove, Northern Illinois University football star is the owner of Elite 7. Kube also had multiple tryouts with NFL teams in his quest to follow his dream of playing in the NFL. Now, Kube instructs and teaches his athletes the ins and outs of professional life and what it takes to succeed. Listen to Alex tell us a little about himself and his experiences:


One of the new clients at Elite 7 is the Judson University   women’s softball team coached by Western Illinois alumnus and ex-Chicago Bandit player Venus Taylor. Watch Taylor, Batts, Gardeck and Wright instruct the Judson players at Elite 7:

Gardeck and Billy Wright, both former players for Crystal Lake South HS baseball head coach Brian Bogda, work at Elite 7 with Kube. Gardeck is heading off to Arizona to get some work done before the SF Giants open their 2016 Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale Stadium is the home for the Giants Spring Training and is the fall league ball park. Gardeck was recently added to the Giants 40 man roster.

No one knows what the future holds for Kube, Gardeck and Elite 7 but it sure looks very bright. As the song goes, “I gotta wear shades.” Good luck and may God bless them both.



Sycamore Invitational: Spartanmania



Sycamore High School, Sycamore, IL- The following is a chronicle of The XLI Annual Sycamore Wrestling Invitational held on Saturday January 9th, 2016. There were 25 teams from all over the state. Local teams included: Cary-Grove HS, Hampshire HS, Huntley HS, Marengo HS, McHenry HS and Woodstock North HS.


Hats off to Sycamore HS and the Spartan Athletic Department for a well run and successful event. Thank you to Spartan Principal Tim Carlson, Athletic Director Chauncey Carrick and wrestling head coach Brian Davis for making everyone feel welcome and running the Invitational like a well oiled machine. Great job Sycamore HS and the town of Sycamore!

The area teams competed well and with pride and made a fine showing for their respective schools. The following coaches should be proud of the young gentlemen that make up their teams: Trojans Mike Buhr, Whip-Purs Brian Iossi, Red Raiders BJ Bertelsman, Indians Tim Keefer, Warriors Will Gaddy and Thunder’s Tim Creighton. Well done, Coaches!

A special shout out goes to local coaching legend Will Gaddy, who will retire at the end of this his 21st season. Heading into the 2015-2016 season, Gaddy had a impressive 280-125 overall dual meet record. Congratulations and good luck in your future endeavors Coach. You will be missed!

Sycamore Invitational results:

  • 1st Washington HS 436.5
  • 2nd Hononegah HS 523.5
  • 3rd Huntley HS 436.5
  • 11th McHenry HS 310.5
  • 14th Sycamore HS 276.5
  • 16th Marengo HS 228
  • 17th Cary-Grove HS 227.5
  • 20th Hampshire HS 225.5
  • 23rd Woodstock North HS 179

Top local finishers include:

  • Dominic Swanson HHS (280) 1st place
  • Josh Stenger HHS (120) 1st place
  • Zachary Spencer HHS (112) 2nd place
  • Jake Fiorito WN HS (160) 1st place
  • Michael Gustafson C-G HS (160) 2nd place (lost to Fiorito of WN HS)


It was great day in Sycamore, thanks again to all who made The XLI Annual Sycamore Wrestling Invitational an enduring athletic tour de force.


Check out this cool video of C-G Trojan Michael Gustafson from The Sycamore Invitational:







Nazareth Academy “Activates” for Success

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La Grange Park, IL – The Roadrunners football program led by Head Coach Tim Racki has implemented a new and innovative prevention and treatment program for injuries. Leading the S.A.T. protocol are Dr.’s Tom Nelson and Eric Janota. S.A.T. stands for Self Activation Technique, a unique method of bringing the body back to its intended and original healthy state. It also incorporates a holistic approach that goes way beyond the Activation process itself. Breathing is the central most important aspect of S.A.T., as it returns the whole body back to a rejuvenated state. When the breathing technique is mastered, the rest of the body’s systems are invigorated and begin to heal and performance is enhanced.

Racki had an “epiphany” on the Thursday before their first game in 2014 that was quite telling. After Racki allowed Nelson to “fully activate” his players, the Coach saw a remarkable improvement in their “focus and execution” at practice on that pivotal day.

Let’s go back in time to learn about Douglas Heel. Heel is the man who embarked on this new technique that is becoming more and more popular as the benefits become better known.


Heel, a South African therapist and also an avid surfer, is the founder of the Be Activated technique that would become the foundation of Nazareth’s Self Activation Technique (S.A.T.). Check out the Be Activated website at

Heel has an extensive background in the physical therapy field in both Great Britain and his native South Africa. Over a period of years, Heel and his students began discovering and mapping new pressure points throughout the body.

“I’ve been teaching this for over 11 years now, always adding and taking away,” Heel says. “The more I taught it, the easier it’s become to understand.” His approach was simple: Always ask how the patient feels. Keep doing what works.
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After Nelson became aware of Heel and Activation, the wheels started to spin, and the journey to the present started in earnest. Nelson hosted a Heel seminar in 2012 and became hooked on the benefits that Activation could bring to Nelson’s patients (including the Roadrunners), current and future.

After tweaking and rethinking how this exciting new process could benefit Racki’s Roadrunners quality of play, the light bulb finally went on before the 2014 championship season. Racki and Nelson agreed to try Activation at the start of the 2012 football season. Racki at that time looked at it as an “injury prevention only” resource and Nelson hadn’t quite figured out how to fully garner the power of Activation. Things stayed relatively constant into the 2013 campaign: Nelson was mainly a defensive coach/ part time Activator and Racki was still somewhat skeptical of its benefits.


Fast forward to the spring of 2014, Nelson finally gets Racki to receive a “full” activation himself. It was quite an experience. Racki called it “mind blowing” and that is where the epiphany came to pass.

Racki is a man who keeps himself in good shape. He works out and plays a lot of basketball. After his activation, the Coach saw the benefits first hand, “It really made a difference, now I could see where Doc was coming from.” From that point forward Racki allowed Nelson to activate his players. “After seeing the kids after their first full activation, I specifically remember it was a Thursday and the practice was off the charts,” Racki explained. “Not a rah rah practice. The execution, the focus, everything was awesome.”


Now remember, in Racki’s mind, Nazareth had been a historically slow game starter. The Roadrunners were still playing Saturday day games as they had not yet installed their lights and began to play their games on Friday nights. But this was still before lights and the first game of the season. It was early on a Saturday morning when Racki noticed, “We looked like we were in mid season form and granted we were talented, yes, but this was more than talent.” He continued, “Saturday brought it all together. Mind and body, breathing all were synced and that is so important in football.”



Coach Racki gives most of the success of Activation to Dr. Tom. “I give Doc credit for pushing the breathing aspect, it is a huge part of activation.” (see Nelson’s website to learn more


Now we get to the linchpin of the story, the spoon that mixes all the parts together: Dr. Tom Nelson. Nelson sold the idea to Racki and brought his friend and fellow doctor, Eric Janota, into the operation. The three men would all be instrumental in the ascendance of Activation, but Dr. Tom was the key.

After learning of Activation, Nelson searched for ways to make it helpful in the lives of the Nazareth football players. A sincerely religious man, Nelson received his answer while attending daily Adoration at the Chapel in Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Westmont. Nelson believes God guides his hands and words as he embraces Activation to help the young men. Racki and Janota do, too.


“It wasn’t until the 3rd year that it clicked. We had two years of mistakes until we got it right.” Nelson said. “Our primary job is to make the kids feel safe, have a safe environment. Society is too negative. The breathing is the most powerful part. We need to get them (players) to relax. Relaxed versus tense.”

Nelson had this to say about the slow starts Nazareth would face, “Slow starts. Why? Tentative. Why? Because we need the team to feel safe, make it a positive environment for the kids. That’s why we have them blow off steam during warm ups, like a teapot. We need to create safe imagery in the kids’ minds (through Activation).”


A good example of how Activation combines the science of medicine and the Power of God, is the story of the Activation Sticks (seen above). The sticks are the instruments in which a person self activates the important parts of his body. Some examples are the psoas and glutes. Nelson first used a PVC pipe but knew he needed something that would work more efficiently. Nelson turned to his daughter, Candice, to perfect the stick and that’s exactly what she did. She designed a curved, pliable stick with caps at each end and adorned with “Activate & Dominate” stickers. Way to go Candice! The good doctor, however, felt the sticks needed a little something more, so he came up with the idea to bless each and every stick with Holy Water. Now things really started going the Roadrunners way.

The Roadrunners went 14-0 and won the 2014 6a IHSA state championship. They capped off a great season with a 26-7 victory over Lemont HS (13-1). Racki and Nelson had to deal with a mysterious flu like illness that enveloped the Roadrunners right before the championship game. With players falling ill left and right, the coaching staff was very uneasy. But as kickoff neared, the team began to improve and by game time, they were ready to play ball. Racki, Nelson, and Janota all felt the Activation that the Roadrunners had been using all season, and right before the game, was a critical part of 2014 championship team.

Notre Dame University bound Julian Love was a big part of the 2014 Roadrunners and became a bigger part of the eventual 2015 5a state champs. Love, who won numerous individual awards this season, is a very big fan of Activation and Dr.’s Tom and Eric. Love was the first athlete Nelson activated when Love had a lower leg injury. After seeing how much improved his injury was after his initial treatment, Love became sold on Activation and its benefits.

Nazareth Academy is a Catholic college preparatory high school located in La Grange Park, IL. Religion is woven into the very fabric that makes Nazareth the great institution it is. Though Catholicism is not the prerequisite form of worship, all students are expected to believe in a Higher power and respect the beliefs of all the other students. This is where Julian Love grew into a man first and a football player second.

Chicago Sun-Times and Pioneer Press 2015 High School Football Player of the Year, Love had this to say about his introduction to Activation and Dr. Tom, “I came to know about it my freshman year. I was at a new program and really didn’t think too much of it. I thought it was the High School ‘way’ but I found that other schools weren’t using it. It gave us an advantage over our opponents. It got our minds and bodies in sync with each other. It had a lot to do with Nazareth’s success. I owe a lot to Dr. Tom. He’s a pioneer and one of those who started it (Activation) and brought it to high school.”

The Roadrunners beat New Lenox Lincoln-Way West (11-3) 42-21 on a cold Saturday morning in November. It was the first game of the IHSA’s second day of championship match ups. Nazareth was led by co MVP’s Jr. RB Ivory Kelly-Martin and Jr. WR Justin Weller. All of Racki’s young men preformed spectacularly that day as they ran out to an insurmountable 35-0 halftime  lead and never looked back. The Roadrunners and Activation had really come of age. The past had merged with the present and the future looked truly exceptional.

After winning his second championship (’14 and ’15) at Nazareth and his sixth overall (four previously with Driscoll HS), Racki had come to really appreciate what Heel and Dr.’s Nelson and Janota had brought to the table.

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“Dr. Tom has been with us every step of the way,” Racki said. “We were watching out for concussions before impact testing became widespread. Activation helps us avoid concussions, we were ahead of the curve. We were being safe way before it became a nationwide issue.”

Nazareth while losing some key components from this years team, will return many players who will be expected to vie for a third consecutive state title (Weller, Devonte’ Dunn, Austin Reifsteck, Cameron Weems, Wesley Lones, Tom Henehan, Gavin Smith, Christian Sampleton and Aidan Bresnahan to name just a few). With the Lord watching over the Roadrunners, Racki, Nelson and Janota, there is a serene, peaceful light that illuminates their way forward.

Watch Dr. Tom activate the Roadrunners before the St. Laurence game







Young Gun: The CLS Gators Kyle Leva



Editors note: This is the first in a series of articles @ about local high school athletes who excel BOTH on AND off the field.

Crystal Lake, IL – It doesn’t take a physics teacher to know that sophomores usually don’t play on the varsity football team. Well, most physics teachers anyways. Crystal Lake South head coach Chuck Ahsmann is an exception to this rule. When he decided to move running back Kyle Leva up to the varsity, the coach was thinking great things were about to happen.

Kyle comes from a good family that supports him and wants to see him succeed but not at all costs. Tony and Tracey, his dad and mom, appreciate the competition and thrill in seeing their only son show his stuff on the gridiron but want to keep him focused on the bigger picture. That being a complete and productive future for Leva after he graduates from Crystal Lake South in the spring of 2018.

The Levas moved to Crystal Lake when Kyle was five years old (Kailynn, a freshman cheerleader at CLS, is his younger sister) and immediately began playing sports. It began with baseball and soccer. According to his dad, Kyle was OK in baseball but didn’t quite fit into the world of youth soccer. Soccer only lasted one season.

According to Tony, “Kyle was a little rough in his soccer matches. His coach kept trying to get him to be less physical but it really didn’t pan out. Kyle spent time on the bench for his aggressive play, sometimes for half the game.” Tony and Tracey realized soccer was not going to be Kyle’s cup of tea.

After baseball and soccer, Kyle moved on to football. The Levas saw this as a perfect outlet for young Kyle’s style of play. It was a very good move.

The first stop on Kyle’s road to “Gatorball” was playing for the Crystal Lake Raiders. The Raiders are the feeder program for both CL’s Central and South HS football teams. Starting in flag, Kyle moved up through the Raiders ranks playing various positions until settling in on running back in 7th and 8th grade. This is where you began to see something special in this young lad.



Leva now entered high school and was looking forward to seeing how he would do playing the game he loved at the next level. He did very well. His Gator team finished their first year at 6-2-1 and he had some great games that caught the attention of the varsity coaches.

One of those games was against Dundee-Crown HS. Kyle now had established himself as the team’s wing back and really showed the Chargers harbingers of the future. Halfway through his freshman campaign, the Gators locked horns with D-C. The game was a blowout with Kyle scoring 4 touchdowns on only 6 touches (Editors Note: Leva scored 4 TD’s against D-C this season also. It was at the Gators 2015 Homecoming game-see picture). He sat out the second half. Kyle had gotten Coach Ahsmann’s attention. The icing on the proverbial cake that would cement Leva’s varsity future came in the last game of the season against the Cary-Grove Trojans. Leva blitzed C-G with a rushing TD, a passing TD and a TD reception that won the game! After that, Coach Ahsmann was sold.


Kyle was going to be on the varsity his sophomore year, the big time, exactly what the Levas had hoped for, right? Not so fast, my friends. His mom, Tracey, was leery of how her son might be treated at the varsity level. Would he be hazed? Would the older boys pick on the young, talented, but shy newcomer? Would the juniors and seniors feel threatened by Kyle’s emergence? Tracey is a mom and moms can and should think these things. The answers to her concerns were no, No and NO. They embraced Leva and treated him like one of them from the very beginning.

Tracey looked back and said,”Not only were my fears unfounded but Kyle made a new group of friends, while keeping his same age friends too. His old friends were proud and happy for him.”

Kyle had a banner sophomore year for the playoff bound Gators. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry on 95 rushes and 517 yards. He also was a very proficient pass receiver. Leva, who has “great hands” according to Coach Ahsmann, compiled 291 yards receiving on 20 catches for a 14.5 average. He scored 8 touchdowns, 6 rushing and 2 receiving.

Leva’s production suffered after the injury to outstanding running back Corey Sheehan midway through the season. It was quite understandable as Sheehan, a senior, was the team’s workhorse. After he got hurt, teams then concentrated on Leva.


Coach Ahsmann was very generous with his time and spoke at length about Leva and his Gators heading into the 2016 season.

“We’re excited about next year because we have Kyle coming back. He was our leading rusher, leading scorer. We get Luke Nolan back, he’s our quarterback.” Ahsmann continued, “We feel real good about his athleticism at QB. Matt Meyers, a junior, comes back at receiver, so we have someone to throw to. We moved Blake Kuffel up at the end of the season to receiver. Likewise, we started a freshman, Trevor Keegan, at right guard and then we started a sophomore, Enok Dragon, at left guard. We felt there were a couple of good sophomores and we started junior Frank Harenza at right tackle. So we feel we have a good core of guys coming back on offense, so we feel good about that.”

On Leva, the head coach had this to say, “He was a big contributor on the offensive side of the ball but the other part of it is that he’s a good student and a great kid. We hope as we go into next year and the next he becomes more of a leader of the team. He’s not super vocal but leads by example.” Ahsmann will be heading into his 7th season as the Gators head coach.

Kyle has a 3.8 grade point average and is on the High Honor roll and also plays a good game of hoops. His basketball coach and Mathematics teacher, Carson Sterchi, had this to say about Leva, “This is my second year coaching Kyle on the sophomore basketball team. I also had Kyle in class last year. Kyle is one of the most dedicated and coachable kids that I have ever been around. Kyle is extremely humble, which is why it’s so fun to watch him succeed in both football and basketball. I am looking forward to watching his career unfold at CLS.”

Brian Murphy, a Social Studies teacher and conditioning coach, enjoyed interacting with Leva, “Kyle was an absolute pleasure to have in class! He was respectful, hard-working, punctual, organized, and intelligent when it came to the content. Kyle is the type of student every teacher wants to have in class.” Murphy went on, “He is a coach’s dream! Kyle has a work ethic and leadership abilities that are far beyond his age.”

Kyle currently plays forward on the Gators sophomore basketball team and after that will continue to lift weights and run in anticipation of his junior year of football. Kyle somewhat reluctantly drinks his dad’s homemade protein shakes. He made the All-FVC football team, IHSA All-Academic team (along with senior linebacker Dylan Sambrano) and was CLS Gators Co-Offensive Player of the Year with good friend QB Luke Nolan. His family has enjoyed Kyle’s journey so far, the excitement of the games, and the camaraderie that football brings. It’s family and friends first for Kyle, then school, followed by sports. No one knows what the future will have in store for Kyle, but I like what I’ve seen to this point. Good luck and God bless the Levas and the Crystal Lake South Gators.






Honors Pile Up for Roadrunners


La Grange Park- Their season ended a few weeks ago but the awards keep on coming for the players on the IHSA Class 5a state football champion Nazareth Academy. The Roadrunners finished the season 12-2 and according to MaxPreps were ranked 113 nationally and 3rd in Illinois. EdgyTim had Nazareth ranked 6th in the state (up from 10th from previous)) and the Tribune had them ranked 5th (Mike Helfgot strangely left Naz off his preseason poll) in the final rankings for the year.

While graduating a plethora of outstanding talent including QB Carson Bartels, LB Joe Muscolino, WR/DB Chris Simmons, WR/LB Christian Davis, CB/WR Julian Love, DE/TE Matt Prendergast, C Mike Carpenelli, K/P Will McKenna and T Bryan Behrendt to name a few, 2016 still looks very promising.

The following are the post season accolades garnered by the Roadrunners during the 2015 campaign:

  • Julian Love, Sr : All-American selection for Blue-Grey Bowl, Pioneer Press Player of the Year, Sun-Times Player of the Year, Tribune First Team All-State, Under Armour All-American finalist, IHSA 5a All-State selection, ESCC MVP/Player of the Year. Not bad, not bad at all!
  • Ivory Kelly-Martin, Jr : Tribune Second  Team All-State and ESCC All-Conference team.
  • Devonte’ Dunn, Jr : ESCC All-Conference team.
  • Matt Prendergast, Sr : Tribune Honorable Mention, ESCC All-Conference team and IHSA Academic All-State.
  • Chris Simmons, Sr : ESCC All-Conference team.
  • Christian Sampleton, Jr : ESCC All-Conference team.
  • Bryan Behrendt, Sr : ESCC All-Conference team and IHSA Academic All-State.
  • Christian Davis, Sr : ESCC All-Conference team and IHSA Academic All-State.

Sincere congratulations to all the Roadrunners mentioned above and to all the graduating Seniors for their commitment and leadership. Kudos also to Head Coach Tim Racki and his talented staff. Looking forward to 2016!    #Back2Back2Back baby!!!!

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