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- More from Dave Oberhelman
Brian Clodi was going to be coaching basketball somewhere.
"That's just something inside me," he said.
It turned out to be somewhere besides St. Charles East, where Clodi is a physical education teacher and drivers' education instructor who lives just a block away.
Clodi coached the Saints eight seasons until last April, when his contract was not renewed in controversial proceedings whose fallout included an investigation of athletic department operations and the retirement of athletic director Jerry Kreig, Clodi's former basketball coach at Bishop MacNamara and predecessor in the Saints job.
What's done is done. Clodi has moved on, basketball-wise, and Harvest Christian Academy in Elgin is the better for it.
At a program with a brief history and minimal success before his arrival, Clodi has led his young team to an 8-14 record entering the Lions' Feb. 7 home game against Alden Hebron. He starts one senior point guard Luis Pereda one junior and three sophomores including leading scorer John Vislisel.
"It feels great," Clodi said.
Harvest Christian is in its first year as a member of the Illinois High School Association, and its last as an independent before entering the Northeastern Athletic Conference next academic year, as cited in a Sept. 2, 2011, story by Daily Herald sports writer John Radtke. The Lions girls volleyball team, displaying quick prowess, reached a Class 1A supersectional in the fall.
"I've been in the business 20 years, I've been very fortunate and very blessed, and that's what this opportunity was when I was called upon to do something I love," Clodi said.
He wasn't initially enlisted to be head boys basketball coach. A week after the season started, Clodi said, Harvest Christian athletic director David Lockwood called him and asked if he could serve as a consultant for a week's worth of drills and plays. When that week expired Clodi was asked to take over the program.
"After being invested for a week, I just felt like, let's make a run at this," he said.
It hasn't always been easy. Harvest Christian, whose captain, junior guard Stuart Wolff, comes from Sugar Grove, lost its season opener 88-12 to Byron at the Oregon Thanksgiving Tournament.
After going 0-4 at Oregon, though, the Lions have been gaining on .500 ever since. They split a pair of close games with 2011 Illinois Association of Christian Schools state champion Berean Baptist Christian, which Clodi said beat Harvest Christian twice by more than 40 points last season.
Led by the 6-foot-6 Vislisel's 21 points and 10 rebounds, the Lions won 62-60 over Grayslake's Westlake Christian Academy, which Clodi said came in 14-2 and had never lost to Harvest.
Averaging 11 steals and 28 rebounds a game, the squad has adhered to Clodi's philosophy that defense begets offense. Six players sophomores Vislisel, Dan Turpin and Kyle Fritz; junior Wolff; and seniors Pereda, Ulises Fragoso and Sam Kauffman have at least 30 steals on the season.
"They're learning how to play, let's put it that way," Clodi said.
Let's put it this way: Clodi is back on a high school basketball court showing young people the proper way to do things and not only about basketball.
"It's not about wins and losses," he said. "You want to win a state championship, you want to be the best team, but basketball is still an opportunity to teach kids about life lessons and work ethic.
"That's what I like about it. It was another opportunity to do that at Harvest Christian."
Fun(damentals) in Aurora
Aurora Central Catholic and football coach Brian Casey are holding their fourth annual Charger Youth Football Coaches Clinic this Saturday, with walk-up registration starting at 8:30 a.m. and the program following from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Casey said that while it's both fun and a lot of work to set up the clinic, past renditions have been of great benefit to youth coaches from points as diverse as Lombard to Algonquin, Downers Grove to Naperville.
He said this is not the place for youth coaches to learn the intricacies of the 3-5 defense, but more the nuts and bolts of getting things done on the field, from three-point stances to practice plans.
"This is all about fundamentals," Casey said.
He's lined up a roster of coaches well-versed in them. Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski will address pass defense, Wilmington's Jeff Reents will go over running back drills and Sycamore's Joe Ryan will go over form tackling.
Casey himself will address practice planning and organization, and Bryan Beerman, of Fort Zumwalt East in Missouri which has played local teams like Glenbard South in recent seasons will speak on pass receiving fundamentals and drills.
There will be a general Q & A session then at noon a keynote address will be delivered by Casey's high school coach, Montini's Chris Andriano, the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame member and four-time state champion.
A coaches' social will be held after the clinic at a local restaurant from 1:30-3 p.m. Cost of the clinic is $25. For info, Casey may be reached at (630) 907-0095 ext. 109 or at email@example.com.
Those Darn Norvilles!
In our latest episode concerning the athletic exploits of the young Norvilles of Batavia, we see that in the space of a week Illinois College's Josiah Norville and sister Melissa (or "Missy") won the Midwest Conference's men's and women's track performers of the week award.
On Jan. 17 Josiah was honored for twice breaking his school's 55-meter hurdles record.
(Also on Jan. 17, St. Charles East graduate Allison Devor earned the Midwest Conference's women's field performer of the week. The Monmouth junior won both the weight throw and shot put at the Sol Butler Invitational.)
On Jan. 21, Missy Norville won the 60 hurdles, long jump and triple jump at Illinois College's own Snowbird Open. At the time she held the conference's top marks in each as well as in the 60 dash. Then, just this week, she won the award again.
Josiah and Melissa's sister, Candace, ended her Illinois College career in 2010 with 18 varsity letters, most in school history.
Their little sister, Tamar, is in her last year as a Batavia basketball player, track athlete and national anthem singer.
Aurora University's men's basketball team is being led this season by Scott Laskowski, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward from Bloomington, Ind.
If the name and location sound familiar, Laskowski is the son of former Indiana Hoosier and Chicago Bull John Laskowski. "Laz" played for the Hoosiers from 1972-75, helping set the stage for Indiana's 1975-76 undefeated campaign. Aurora University graduate assistant Lance Robinson, Northern Athletics Conference player of the year in 2009-10, used his Indiana connections to land Scott Laskowski.
Scott Laskowski has shared the lead or led Aurora University in rebounding in 16 of 20 games, and also leads the Spartans in scoring with 16.2 points a game.
Joining Laskowski on AU's active roster are West Aurora alums Brandon Hayes and Kyle Pilmer, and Aurora Central's Mark Adams. In the program also are Kaneland's Chaon Denlinger, Aurora Central's Ryan Harreld and West Aurora's Tommy "Tommy Gun" Goulding.