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 www.douglasheel.com
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.
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 http://activateanddominate.com/)
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.
“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