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‘The Knights Way’

in Columns/Opinion by

by Peter Goff, Kaneland Athletic Director
Greetings Kaneland Knight fans. This is your KHS Athletic Director Peter Goff dropping you a line for the Sports Wrap. A theme that we are trying to promote here at the high school is “The Knights Way.”

What does that mean to our students and community members? In old times, Knights went the extra mile to protect others and uphold virtue and honor. In more modern times, this translates to wanting both students and teachers to have a great attitude in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities. The Knights way today is to go the extra mile to help someone who is not as fortunate as you.

When Kaneland teams and fans leave a venue, we hope that people from that town say to themselves, “What a bunch of nice students and fans!” Too often, that thinking has been lost in this day and age, but we want to make sure we put sportsmanship first here!

The Knights Way is not new, but it is something we want to work to highlight. This week, I received a phone call from one of the athletic directors in our conference praising one of our students. This student sent a letter to the AD saying that the concession stand had given too much change back. Instead of saying, “Sweet! I just made some extra money that I can spend on something else for myself!” this Kaneland student sent a letter with the extra money back to that school.

The athletic director said to me, “In this day and age you don’t often find good citizenship and that he really appreciated our student’s honesty and integrity!”

As a school, we are looking for those teachers and students who will do that little extra something that will make our community a better place. Now that’s the Knights Way!

Thank you and we will see you again next month.

Thanks for the memories: Blitz, Sting, Power

in Opinion by

February is still going on, as is my list of departed sports teams that gave Chicago memories; good, bad or indifferent.

Yet another Chicago football team to come down the pike and stay down there was the Blitz, of the long-gone United States Football League. Debuting to a bit of hype in 1983, the Blitz were coached by NFL legend George Allen and made good on the regular season with a 12-6 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Personnel included former Bears QB Vince Evans, and RB Tim Spencer, but ownership switched franchises with the Arizona Wranglers. Attendance dwindled from the 25,000 mark at their high point in ‘83, and the Blitz went just 5-13 under new coach Marv Levy. Ownership decided to shut down for reasons like the league voting to switch to a fall schedule for the non-existent 1986 season.

The coolest fact is that the Blitz practiced at the now-closed Maine North High School in Des Plaines, which was just 10 minutes from my duplex as a youth and also housed scenes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. It’s safe to say that the Blitz would still be around if Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez had roles on the team.

When soccer was all the rage, relatively speaking, the Chicago Sting played both outdoor and indoor.

Around the time Pele was starring for the New York Cosmos, the NASL brought the Sting to Chicago in 1975. The Sting got their kicks at Soldier Field and Comiskey Park. With players like Karl Heinz-Granitza and Batata, the Sting also dazzled Chicago Stadium audiences for the Major Indoor Socer League starting in 1984 before folding in 1988. The outfit also won the Soccer Bowl in 1981, securing bragging rights to Chicago’s first title since the Bears in 1963.

The Sting’s spiritual brother, the Power, was headlined by player-coach Granitza and began play at the Rosemont Horizon in 1988, and even won the National Professional Soccer League title in 1991. They probably would have had the city, or at least Rosemont, for the taking if the Bulls didn’t muck this up by winning their first title.

What I’ll remember from the Power is that it was a great location for 11-year-olds to have their birthday party, and the goal points were higher the farther they were kicked from. Not uncommon for there to be 25-10 finals.

As many Chicago sports teams stick around, almost as many have lived and died. Those make memories that stick around, too.

Mike Slodki can be reached at sports@elburnherald.com.

Column: Chicago teams fill dead zone

in Opinion by

By Mike Slodki
Sports editor

For being the shortest month, February has a way of stretching out as long as possible.

The NFL season is off until September, MLB doesn’t hit both sides of town until April, and March Madness comes who-knows-when. What is a sports fan to do around here, especially with Kaneland winter sports coming to a halt soon?

Pro sports teams do go some of the way in filling the void, with the Hawks impressing sell-out crowds like they did the glory days and the Bulls looking to trade Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and maybe some Elburn basketball kids if they’re willing.

When I watch TV during this month, I think back to what could have been on. Namely some in-your-face with a helmet-cam football.

The XFL kicked off eight years ago this month, and then was kicked out of the football landscape almost as quickly, but we’ll always have the Chicago Enforcers-L.A. Xtreme rivalry. I’ll vouch that the Enforcers were the best team to play at Soldier Field from Feb.-April 2001. Rules like no fair catches, or extra points, and cool nicknames on the back of jerseys made for nice quirks, but the ratings tanked after one week. Thus, we can only dream how the black-and-purple clad Enforcers would have fared on their way to the Million Dollar Game.

One former Enforcer found his way back to the gridiron: QB Tim Lester calls the shots as head coach of Elmhurst College.

Another football team, the Rush, had an ArenaBowl title under its belt, but with the AFL suspending operations for 2009, the future is cloudy at best.

Before the Rush hit Rosemont in 2001, its predecessor was the Bruisers, one of the charter members of the AFL in 1987. With former Duke QB Ben Bennett and current New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton leading the charge, the Bruisers made the then-Rosemont Horizon their home and made it to ArenaBowl II in 1988 before succumbing to the hated Detroit Drive. The last season for the indoor outfit was 1989.

Before the Chicago Fire hit Soldier Field in the late-90s, and way after the devastating Chicago Fire of the early 1870s, the Chicago Fire of the World Football League hit the landscape in 1974 and were swept out of town, literally, by the Chicago Winds. The Winds were shelved after just five games and the league bottomed out after financial trouble before the ‘75 season ended, much like this column has bottomed out before I can rattle off more dead teams. I’ll have more to come next week.

Mike Slodki can be reached at sports@elburnherald.com.

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