One might think there'd be pressure coming in as York's new boys track and field coach. Charlie Kern doesn't think so.
"I don't see it as that, I see it as an opportunity," said Kern, 45, who will succeed retired Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee Stan Reddel.
"I've been a part of the woodwork for a long time," said Kern, who accepted the position before school started, though news of it didn't break until Dyestat's Mike Newman, a former Dukes runner, reported it last week.
"I understand how things are done at York. The kids know me, I don't have to try to sell a new style. It's a beautiful opportunity," Kern said.
Asked his thoughts last May on Kern's chances of taking over the program, Reddel didn't spill any beans. He mainly was preoccupied with assembling the Dukes' fifth state championship team, leaving Charleston on top like his legendary predecessor, Joe Newton -- still York's boys cross country coach -- had in 2000.
Reddel did add his two cents, Kern said.
"Coach Reddel put in a good word for me as he was looking to who would take over the program," said Kern, a father of three in his 16th year teaching philosophy, sociology and world history at York.
"There were a lot of community members who were interested in me coming back to coach. So I filled out the application and began the process of coming back over the summer and we reached an agreement Aug. 6," Kern said.
He's also helping Newton in cross country again, back in the fold for the first time since he resigned assistant coaching positions in track and cross country after the 2008 track season. That ended a brilliant cross country scenario -- Newton barking out motivation, Kern with the running ability to rabbit the boys during practice.
The resignation capped an odd blip at York, which has won 27 state cross country championships, with Kern a coach for eight of them.
The day before York was to compete at the 2006 Class AA Niles West sectional, the school suspended both Kern and Newton for exceeding the Illinois High School Association's 25-day contact period that summer. York won its 26th state title with Reddel representing the squad at Detweiller Park.
Kern, who called that chapter "water under the bridge," went on to run competitively, setting an American age group record in the 3,000-meter run and winning a masters world title in the 1,500. As a New York high schooler he had won state titles in track and cross country.
The friendly Kern also began a company that trains runners from novice to phenom. Last summer Charlie Kern Running drew more than 400 entrants from 18 communities. In fact one of his conditions to taking the York track job was that he could continue with the camp in the summer as long as it didn't intersect with York's summer program.
Kern brings a freshman son, also named Charlie, into the program. Junior will join about 200 boys to whom his father is accountable. As new head of the Dukes boys track program Kern eagerly anticipates maintaining "the level of success that people are accustomed to," he said.
"I want to try to help young men become better than they were before they arrived," Charlie Kern said. "And that's not just athletically, that's as a human being as well."
High-profile back liner
Top Drawer Soccer recently held its second annual TDS Combines Series in Schaumburg, where some of the Midwest's top prep players showed their stuff in front of scouts and coaches representing some 20 colleges.
Afterward the TDS staff, coaches and scouts compiled a list of the girls players that impressed them the most. They pared it down to 11, which included Downers Grove North junior defender Alyse Dutcher.
Bucket runneth over
On Aug. 29 we wrote of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and reactions to that phenomenon by ALS patient Brian Schnurstein and his father, Ray, of Wheaton.
The idea to revisit Brian's story came from one of his former high school classmates who in addition to taking the Challenge herself had urged friends to donate specifically to Brian and his wife, Lindsay.
Another of the couple's friends had established a fundraiser on the website, YouCaring.com. It sought $3,100 for the Schnursteins to purchase a generator in case the power went out in their Michigan home. Brian, who uses a ventilator around the clock, can't afford an outage.
His kind, anonymous classmate checked back in with us Saturday, delivering the news that the YouCaring fundraiser had raised more than $22,000. As of this writing on Wednesday the exact total was $22,139.
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