Greens and Gridiron

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“If you haven’t heard, Naperville is a sports town. We love our sports here. In the 17 years since Naperville Sports Weekly launched, we’ve covered all IHSA Sports, from football to golf to lacrosse and water polo, even bowling. This coverage is important. And NCTV17 gives these student-athletes their “ESPN” moment on TV, on local TV,” said Stefan Holt as he introduced Luke Williams, Naperville North football and basketball player, and John Keller, head coach of the Neuqua Valley girls golf team, to the stage during NCTV17’s The Morning Show.

“Luke, I understand athleticism runs in the family. Your mother is a volleyball official. Your father is a PE teacher. You’re a naturally gifted athlete, but obviously, it takes a lot of hard work. So talk about why and how high school athletics has really helped you excel,” Holt continued. 

“Having parents that played high school and college athletics, they just give you the support and knowledge you need with balancing school and sports, especially with a brother that’s playing college athletics, that also helps him be kind of a mentor,” said Williams.

He continues, “So that’s really how much high school sports has meant to me, especially with my coaches:  Coach Nolan and Coach Drendel, who have helped me every step of the way. And being a multi-sport athlete, it’s not easy. All the practices and the schoolwork, too. Obviously, a lot of hard work, you know, balancing school and sports. But it’s just part of it. You have to be a student first.” 

Holt asks Coach Keller, “Let me ask you about coaching. In the case of golf, I think participating in sports, especially high school girls’ golf, tees them up for life and success. Maybe not as a professional golfer, but other things they might want to do.”

Keller responds, “Well, there’s a couple different ways. I think that probably the most obvious is golf is one of the handful of sports you can play your entire life. Ten-year-olds can play golf, high schoolers, people my age, and eighty-year-olds. You can play golf your entire life.”

Keller continues, “I was just talking to the father of a former player minutes ago. She played on the team ten or 12 years ago, and he said, yup, she’s still playing. And so I think in that way it’s obvious that this is an activity you can do your entire life. But I think golf teaches you perseverance, patience, and overcoming many things that are out of your control.”

“The golfers that excel in high school, they are driven, they’re focused, and that can spread out over anything you do. It’s a sport that looks so easy, but it’s very, very difficult. If anybody’s played it, they know that. You need to learn to handle that, keep a good attitude, and keep pushing on. And so I think in that way, golf is really a lifelong activity,” concluded Keller. 

Holt responds, “I’m hearing from both of you that sense of persistence, the fact that you really have to work hard at it. But there are these kinds of life experiences that come from athletics. Luke, you were Naperville Sports Weekly’s Male Athlete of the Year last year. You’ve committed to playing football at Purdue. So, it’s no surprise you’ll have more ESPN moments, I’m sure, in your career. But what did it mean to you to be on TV, to get that local reaction to all the work you’ve been doing on the field and on the court?” 

“You know, NCTV has been such a great program, following every game around to show kids’ high school experience on the Internet. So, I feel like it’s been great interviewing people who aren’t going to be interviewed in the future. Maybe just giving them that experience to get on the camera by themselves. You know, just looking back on that in the future, telling your kids, I was on TV one time just being in front of that camera, I feel like it gives everybody importance,” Williams responded.

Holt then spoke to Coach Keller. “We talk a lot about golf on TV. I can’t watch golf on TV. I get frustrated and think, why? Why do they make it look so easy? But I think in that sense, there’s this saying: if you can see it, you can do it. I’m sure that watching NCTV’s golf coverage inspires other girls to get involved in golf. Would you say that’s the case?” 

“Sure. I remember when NCTV started to come out to our matches six or eight years ago, and I was like, ‘Are you guys lost? This is golf.’ We’re not used to this attention, right?” Keller responded. “You know, when Luke plays football, there are literally thousands of people watching him. And it was a little intimidating for some of the girls to see the cameras and be interviewed afterward. And now they come out to literally all of our matches. And it’s really special, I think, for the kids to have that attention, to get interviewed afterward, to see themselves on the broadcast.”

In closing, Keller said, “I know how hard it is to edit and put the clips together, and NCTV17 turns that around in days. And it’s really kind of a treat for us and something that I didn’t expect. And I really admire the effort that they put in. I think it’s valuable for the kids.”