As our Class of 2013 began college this fall, they were destined to make their mark in a variety of ways. Most would excel in the classroom. Others might get involved in student government. And another segment would likely volunteer for worthy social causes. Most of them would likely, though, be making significant contributions in relative isolation.
Three members of that class, however, have regularly come into your living rooms this fall if you are a college football fan, especially if you follow the programs at Illinois, Michigan, and Northwestern.
A graduate of Naperville North,
has been dancing since she was three years old, first with Dance West Ballet and later Midwest Edge. Her skills and prowess led to her being a three year varsity member of her high school's dance team which performed at home football and basketball games. In addition, she was also on on North's competitive dance team which qualified for, and went to, state three years in a row, finishing in the Top 12 for the first time in school history last year. Upon been accepted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she tried out for their dance team last spring and was one of twenty-eight girls to be selected.
A Biology major, she balances a demanding schedule as her dance team practices anywhere from 2-4 hours per day. The Illinettes perform "sidelines" at all home football and basketball games and are also part of the halftime show along with the Marching Band, the Marching Illini. They can also be found doing their dance routines at various university events throughout the year.
After cheering for Benet for four years,
enjoyed it so much she hoped to continue performing in college. When she was accepted at the University of Michigan, however, she never dreamt that she could ever make a squad at a school with more than 46,000 students. Nonetheless she decided last April to adhere to the Ben Franklin's montra of 'nothing ventured....nothing gained.' Shortly thereafter she was notified that she was 1 of only 5 freshmen to make the 20 girl varsity squad.
Per school policy, freshman only cheer at home football and a select number of home men and women's basketball games in Ann Arbor. Thus, she will not be able to root on the Wolverines when they take on South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on January 1. However, the nursing major does look forward to visiting other Big Ten campuses during the next three years and working up the fan base in the Big House as Michigan seeks its first national championship since 1997.
As glamorous as being a collegiate cheerleader looks on television, there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into each performance. Her squad devotes approximately 14 hours a week to their craft including training and weight lifting. In addition, all athletes must regularly partake of mandatory study tables.
When a third grader tells his parents that he wants a tackling dummy and jump rope for his birthday, you know he's serious about his commitment to football.
That pretty much describes the passion that
Joe Spivak has demonstrated on the gridiron since first suiting up for a Naperville Youth football game in fourth grade. A two-way player at Saints Peter and Paul, where he led our varsity to the SPL championship in seventh grade, Joe was a four year starter at Montini and gave up a promising wrestling career to concentrate on his favorite sport.
He played on the Broncos' 2015 state champion team and on their state runner-up squads in 2013 and 2014. Besides his outstanding football skills, his leadership abilities led to his being chosen a 3 time captain for the squad.
It was no surprise that Joe had many collegiate offers including Michigan State and Princeton. However, he wanted to play big-time football while receiving an outstanding education. Thus, he chose to stay local and strap it up for Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald fulfilling a promise he made to himself when he went to a NU game in fifth grade. The 6'1" nose tackle was a part of this year's Wildcat squad that went 7-2 in the Big Ten and finished 9-3 overall.
Northwestern will face off against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl in Nashville on December 29.