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A true institution of higher learning
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/18/2008 12:22 AM

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Crested Butte Academy is nestled at the base of a ski hill in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. For a Midwesterner it's an unlikely place to attend, a preparatory school that in addition to the usual curriculum specializes in competitive snow skiing, snow boarding and cross country running.

That's where Glen Ellyn resident Cole Rebora has done the bulk of his studying the last two years.

Rebora, a 16-year-old sophomore, spends his summers and fall semester with us flatlanders before heading to the slopes of Colorado, where he trains as a free skier attacking Big Mountain, Extreme and Park terrain. Currently he's in "dryland training" -- weight lifting and running until the end of the school year.

"It's risky and it's just fun," Rebora said of skiing, which always offers the prospect of a major wipeout. "You can do whatever you want."

A high-scoring running back on Glenbard West's sophomore football team last season, Rebora said both sports require quick cuts and a combination of finesse and aggression.

Cole wasn't always a skier.

"We're not a skiing family by any means," said his father, Mark. Nonetheless, starting with a trip to Michigan's Swiss Valley course and a couple trips to Colorado, it was plain he had a knack for it. On a family trip in March 2005 to Lake Tahoe, Calif., Rebora's skills impressed the locals enough for them to take him under his wing for a few days.

"When I started skiing," he said, "I found it so much fun, and started pushing myself to do and try different things -- which my family found very unordinary and decided I should be brought to a higher level."

In a stirring rise for a freshman, Rebora won competitions at Copper Mountain and Winter Park as well as the wonderfully named Crested Butte Rail Jam.

Coached by the husband-and-wife team of extreme skiing masters Woody Lindenmyer and 1992 Olympian Wendy Fisher, and now sponsored by the High Society Freeride Company, earlier this sophomore year Rebora competed at Breckenridge, Aspen, Winter Park and his home course, Crested Butte.

He qualified for the USSA nationals and also the Junior Olympics, though instead he chose the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships in Crested Butte and Taos, N.M. A couple weeks ago, he won another marvelously titled event, the Crested Butte Slush Huck.

Rebora considers himself a resident of both Crested Butte and Glen Ellyn. He catches up with friends on breaks and suspects they may harbor a little jealousy.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I think they would like to be out here."

Time for a change

Sometime in the middle of January things just didn't seem right for Montini boys basketball coach Tom Sloan.

Namely, the game had lost its pizzazz.

"I didn't really enjoy this season very much," he said. "It was a lot more work in the sense of it not being that fun, and that was first time that had ever happened to me," said Sloan, whose resignation after seven seasons as Broncos coach was officially released a week ago today.

"It was a chore to go to practice, and I didn't really look forward to games that much," Sloan said.

That's a lethal mixture, and Sloan acknowledged it was unfair to Montini's players under those circumstances.

Complicating the issue was the birth of Tom and Jodie Sloan's second child and first son, Thomas.

Initially a routine birth on Feb. 9 despite Jodie delivering little Tommie two weeks premature, medical issues quickly arose that have since required the infant to undergo two surgeries.

A ninth-year math teacher at Lyons Twp., Sloan spent most of his time in the hospital monitoring his son's health. He turned the Montini basketball team over to his varsity assistant, John Vosicky, for the remainder of a disappointing 11-18 season.

"I guess in that sense, the fact that all this happened was kind of the icing on the cake," Sloan said. "It completely solidified the decision for me."

Those all-encompassing health concerns even precluded Sloan from informing the Broncos players of his decision. Still, the Fenwick graduate was glad to have had the chance to coach at Montini.

"I really enjoyed the opportunity and really appreciated the fact that (athletic director) Don (Riley) and the rest of the administration gave me a chance," he said.

"I felt like we accomplished a lot, but from the end of last season to the end of this season I felt like it had pretty much run its course."

Riley already has received applications from several candidates, and interviews will go into next week. He hopes to name a new coach by the end of April.

Sold to the man in the elastic wrist wraps

Ever seen Downers Grove South's muscular football and baseball player Jared Culver? The guy's as big as a yard barn, if not a house.

Culver, Zack Blazek and other Mustangs athletes wore out the school weight room. So, the DGS Athletic Department is hosting its second annual brunch and auction to benefit the fitness facility.

The event will be held Sunday at Seven Bridges in Downers Grove. More than 100 auction items will be offered from sports memorabilia and art to tickets, golf outings, etc. Rick Zurich, broadcast personality from 93.9 FM "The Lite," will stir things up.

Call Downers South athletics at (630) 795-8517 for details.

Gaining Traction

Former Neuqua Valley and Elmhurst College cross country and track standout Marisa Mele gained sponsorship from North American Specialty Flooring/Traction, a national supplier of track surfaces and other multi-sport surfaces.

To celebrate, on April 6 Mele ran the Go! St. Louis Half-Marathon. In a field of 8,131, and 4,933 women, Mele's time of 1:26.26 ranked 88th and was the seventh female overall, fourth in her age division.

Word to the wiseacre

Hitting guru Jack Perconte, the former major leaguer who now teaches baseball and softball fundamentals to local players, is the author of "60,000 Hitting Lessons."

He's rapped out a few tongue-in-cheek comments for players ages 5-17.

Here are his quips for ages high school-age kids.

"Even though you think your coach is bad, do what he tells you."

"The balls don't pick themselves up after batting practice."

"You are hitting .230. He didn't hit you on purpose."

"Only big leaguers don't run out each groundball out. The rules state that high school players have to."

For more putdowns and tips, reach Perconte at www.baseballhittinglessons.com.

To the mudders

Let's hear it for anyone who attended any event contested outdoors in last Friday and Saturday's evil weather. That kind of support means a lot. Give yourself a pat on the back … and a nice mug of hot cider.