Jim Brown wrote the book on bringing up better kids through football.
In 2010 the determined Naperville resident saw his 15-year project, "More Than a Game: A Vehicle for Child Development," come to fruition through Greenleaf Book Group of Austin, Texas.
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He's the longtime president and 43-year volunteer assistant coach of St. Raphael Football, a not-for-profit corporation that works in conjunction with St. Raphael's Parish in Naperville. In his book Brown mined that background to present facets of personal development that, starting young, help determine one's success on and off the field. Leadership, commitment and dealing with adversity are just a few of them.
"We tackle the approach that we use football as a vehicle to develop life skills," he said.
Joe Galat, president of American Youth Football in Miami, read "More Than a Game." Between the messages and lessons contained therein, their applications toward the thousands of St. Raphael Football graduates Brown's helped develop and the success of both the youth and traveling programs, Galat recommended Brown for induction into the AYF Hall of Fame.
Brown joined nine new inductees at a ceremony in Orlando on Wednesday. Sixty-five people have been inducted since 2003.
Displaying the intelligence he brought to his former professional career at Lucent Technologies, where he started its international division before retiring 18 years ago at age 55, Brown left for sunny Florida the day after Thanksgiving.
"It means a lot. When you get to be 73 years old you always wonder how many years you've got left to coach," he said while still in the Maplebrook subdivision home he shares with his wife of 45 years, Marcia. They've got three children themselves, each involved in either teaching or coaching, including Dan Brown, Naperville Central's boys tennis coach.
"It's kind of a culmination for me, it's recognition of what I've done over the years," Jim said of his Hall of Fame honor. "It's nice to have someone recognize it. The kids recognize it, and that's the most important thing. It makes you feel good."
St. Raphael Football was founded in 1963 by former Benet coach and athletic director Ron Baumgartner. Current Benet coach Pat New is a graduate of the program -- "he was the fastest kid we ever had," Brown remembered. This year 25 players from St. Raphael's combination seventh- and eighth-grade program are taking Benet's application exam, he said.
Naperville Central players Ben Andreas, Jake Kolbe and Jimmy Nashert also came out of St. Raphael, he said, and Neuqua Valley also was represented. New obviously remains a devotee, as do Naperville North coach Sean Drendel and Naperville Central coach Mike Stine.
"All three of those coaches teach their high school teams the same way," Brown said.
"As long as he can teach the kids life skills, he can't lose as a coach."
The 2013 induction class into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame has been announced.
Locals include Fenton's Dennis Cromer, former players Terri Zemaitis Boumans of Downers Grove South and Kelly Miller of Lake Park and, in the "Friends of Basketball" category, Aurora's Charlie Essig.
Well deserved. They get inducted April 27 at Illinois State University.
Called to the mat
Lisle senior wrestler Ryan Kilroy is ranked second in the 132-pound weight class by Illinois Matmen. He's a two-time state qualifier who last season finished fourth in Class 1A at 120 pounds.
Tuesday night Kilroy went 2-0 in a triangular with Seneca and Plano to give him 101 wins in his four years on the varsity, 7-0 this season. Lions coach John Davis believes Kilroy's total puts him among the top 15 Lisle wrestlers all-time.
So to continue this column's tradition of hard-hitting journalism, we asked Kilroy what's on his Christmas list this year.
1) A new cellphone.
3) A new longboard (which naturally precipitated discussion of the merits of longboard versus skateboard).
"I've got all I need, really," said Kilroy, refreshingly. "Those are the three main things. Of course, I want video games."
Down the stretch
Glenbard West's Maddie Perez, winner of the Class 3A individual cross country meet in November, finished 16th at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., on Saturday. She was the highest placer among local girls and followed New Trier's Courtney Ackerman among Illinois girls.
Another girls state champion, the Naperville North Huskies, placed 15th in the NXN team race. Elly DeTurris led the way for the Huskies, followed by Maria McDaniel, Kate Shannon, Jenny Smith, Kimber Meyer, Judy Pendergast and Grace Carballo.
On the boys side Scott Milling of York, sixth at the state meet, was the top DuPage County finisher, 27th and one spot behind Class 3A champ Jack Keelan of St. Ignatius. The Dukes of York, first in the state, placed sixth out of 22 teams at Nike. The team was Milling, Kyle Mattes, Chris May, Alex Bashqawi, Jack Libert, Alex Mimlitz and Matt Plowman.
Milling isn't done yet. On Nov. 24 in Kenosha, Wis., he finished ninth at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional, which qualifies him for the nationals on Saturday in San Diego. He'll represent DuPage on the male side while Lake Park senior Kaylee Flanagan will run the girls race in San Diego. She placed eighth in her Midwest Regional.
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