Kara Roll didn't attempt the rope course, but little else escaped her last summer at the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation Ranch in Colorado.
A co-sponsor with physics teacher Bobby Cowhey of the Lake Park JKB Foundation chapter, Roll, a biology teacher, was an observer of a weeklong session at the ranch, participating in such activities as white water rafting and watching trainers conduct class instruction.
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"It was just amazing," said Roll, the wife of Lake Park football coach Chris Roll. The two met at Indiana University, he a football player, she a cheerleader.
For two decades Ken and Colleen Malany Braid have welcomed male and female "JKB Scholars" -- high school sophomores selected by their schools -- to Colorado for leadership training, problem solving and decision making.
The Braids' son, Kyle, was a prep football player in Florida who secretly used steroids to improve his size and strength; after mood swings and bouts of depression he took his own life. The Braids (Ken's a Hinsdale Central graduate) almost immediately started this foundation in an attempt to help student-athletes make wise decisions and positively impact their schools and communities.
"When they're out at the ranch what they're supposed to do is come up with a mission statement for how they're going to better the world. It's like a ripple effect," Kara Roll said.
Lake Park joined the JKB cause for the first time in 2013. The students' cause was as simple as firing up school spirit. "Lancer Nation" -- the Twitter group @lancersnation has more than 1,470 followers -- sought to support a variety of activities such as the Lancer Joust band competition, not merely football and basketball games.
Sales of Lancer Nation T-shirts raised some $1,500 that was donated to the Itasca-based InGENEus Project, which works with John Stroger Jr. Hospital to provide cancer testing for women who can't afford the out-of-pocket expense.
"They really, really have tried to make an effort," Roll said.
The J. Kyle Braid Foundation is in its 20th year and it's a pivotal one, for this is the final year of sending students to the JKB Ranch in Villa Grove, Colo. On Tuesday Kara Roll said she and Cowhey met with Malany Braid about future plans, with the possible goal of establishing a similar program in Illinois. Given that Naperville Central has a large presence on its board of directors, notably boys golf and assistant girls soccer coach Barry Baldwin and former athletic director Marty Bee, that's a distinct possibility.
It's a worthy goal, because more Illinois schools are involved than ever before, including newcomer Wheaton North. As we like to do annually, following are the local JKB scholars about to start their journey.
Downers Grove North: Natalie Costello, Meg Geraghty, Ben Goodell, Zach Hogan, Bowen Marks, Lauren Porcelli.
Downers Grove South: Marcella Caldero, Charlie Hlavin, Ramarro Lamar, Autumn Rasmussen.
Glenbard West: Nick Diver, George Mugnani, Christine Sedall, Emma Winans.
Hinsdale Central: Nathan Hill, Caroline Morris, Emma Stapleton, Jim Walker.
Hinsdale South: Dylan Boye, Madison Cebular, Kailey Hoel, Danny Milosevich.
Lake Park: Sarah Cillick, Mike Panasiuk, Emily Petrucci, Justin Scafidi, Dylan Scheirich, Cassie Spear.
Naperville Central: Kathleen Conforti, Kyra Conroy, Trent Graves, Samantha Herron, Katie McBain, Matt Meier, Scott Piper, Kayla Rowan, Hannah Swarm, Brian Wirtz.
Naperville North: Nick Carballo, Bryce Dunlap, Jonathon Heitz, Maddie Krejci, Aaron Kruk, Nicole Marcus, Allison Ray, Kate Shannon.
Wheaton Academy: Maisie Howland, Jamie Netzley, Ty Seager, David Thrasher.
Wheaton North: Matt Giles, Clare Kocher, Ryan Murray, Cassidy Wolff.
Wheaton Warrenville South: Ellen Anderson, Jon Larson, Hannah Scudder, Brian Shallcross.
York: Marc Bernard, Francesca Carfagnini, Jordan Less, Katie Toohey.
Immersed in the JKB philosophy that summer week in Colorado, even Kara Roll was moved to reflect on her own teaching style.
"It's nothing short of life changing, actually," she said.
Loyola's four-set win over Stanford in the men's NCAA Division I volleyball championship, Saturday at Gentile Arena in Chicago, gave Wheaton Warrenville South boys coach Bill Schreier his first alum to scale that mountain since Olympian Sean Rooney helped Pepperdine win the 2005 title.
Sophomore outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke recorded 12 kills, 8 digs and 13 points in the 29-1 Ramblers' victory, Loyola's second national championship in school history and its first since the men's basketball team won the NCAA Tournament in 1963.
Shaking it up
Not only has Lisle football undergone a change at the top with Paul Parpet taking over for coach Dan Sanko, the Lions schedule has a new wrinkle.
Dwight's move to the Northern Illinois Big 12 out of the Interstate Eight meant something had to give because incoming Streator is not yet on Lisle's schedule. So Lisle's Week 2 opponent, home on Sept. 5, is Aurora Central Catholic.
This will be the first time in 13 years, not counting playoff opponents, that the Lions will play a team outside of the Interstate Eight. Lisle defeated St. Francis 20-13 in the 2001 season opener.
Also interesting, in hindsight, is Lisle's second-round playoff foe in 2001 was Driscoll, just starting its streak of seven straight state titles. The Lions opened the playoffs with a win over Nazareth, which is where Tim Racki, Driscoll's coach at that time, took over in 2005.