New NIU coach Rod Carey front-and-center before Orange Bowl

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New NIU coach Rod Carey front-and-center before Orange Bowl

A day before the 2013 Orange Bowl, Northern Illinois' Rod Carey, a man who had never been on center stage before, took to it.

Carey was named the Huskies head coach 30 days ago, and he admitted this past week that everything has been going at "Mach 10" since that point.

Now, a day before the game, Carey said that he has come to grips with the speed.

Such was apparent Monday, as the personality and comfortability that Carey had only exuded in close groups was on display for the world to see.

But despite the calmer demeanor in the spotlight, Carey didn't follow the script read by seemingly all other BCS coaches. The gist: say a lot without saying a lot.

No, that wouldn't be Rod Carey he's a bit more literal, and playful, than that.

When asked if he was aware of the magnitude of his first game, Carey's response was simple:

"Sure."

When asked about if he's going to move the Huskies to a new hotel the night before the game:

"Yep."

Is it necessary?

"Yep."

Was it decided before he came to Miami?

"Yep."

World, meet Rod Carey. Oh, and never mind the TV cameras, Rod, they're just here to hear you talk.

You'll have to excuse Carey if he isn't yet versed in coach speak, but don't mistake his inexperience for ignorance or naivety. He just doesn't doesn't much care for the ruckus that comes with the BCS.

"I'm happy to do it for NIU and for our football program," Carey said. "But other than that...Listen, I'm more comfortable with a whistle around my neck and coaching than I am with a mic in front of me in a suit, I can tell you that. My wife likes it when I dress up in a suit. I hate it."

No, Carey much prefers his sweat-stained and sun-bleached NIU hat, the same one he wore when he was the offensive line coach.

Carey's steadfastness which can come across as stubbornness to some has allowed him to manage the rapid changes of his career and keep track of the players and responsibilities that have come with them. Two seasons ago, Carey was the offensive line coach for a three-win North Dakota team. Until Dec. 3, you couldn't find him on Wikipedia.

Now Carey is the head of a football program that is one win away from becoming next-level.

Given the pressures and temptations the trip has provided, Carey said Monday that he has been impressed with the restraint his players have displayed in a situation that is less-than-ideal for a first-time head coach.

"You know, you come down to South Beach with a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds, we were all 18 to 22 at one point, can remember what that was like," Carey said. "We haven't had one single incident with bad decision making. I give them all the credit for that. Yeah, we helped them, but you know, kids can always find a way if they really want to. These guys did, and I'm proud of them."

Carey's players have in turn, have been impressed in Carey, who has prepared for his first game as a head coach not as if it's the most important game in NIU and MAC history, but as if it was just another game at North Dakota.

"We don't look at the big picture a whole lot, football is about the little things and about the details," Carey said. "That's what we've been focusing on. But when you talk about those two things, we're excited for NIU and excited for the MAC."

What Carey does want to focus on is the game plan it's nice to have the pen last, he said Monday and getting the details ingrained in his players before they take the field Tuesday night.

But in the end, Carey said, it's just one game.

"Isn't that good that way?" Carey said. "Can't screw it up too much, right?"

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

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Photo at top: Loyola Academy assistant coach Paul Pryma extends his hand toward a Steinmetz High School player during pregame introductions on Feb. 21. (Andres Waters/MEDILL)

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

By Andres Waters
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.

"That's the best celebration that I have ever been a part of," Livatino said. "Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I'm really, really proud just to be one of our coaches."

While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.

In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.

"It's a really long part of the process, but to be honest, it's a part of the job that I absolutely love," Livatino said. "We demand so much of our players in every aspect. And, from a basketball standpoint, the least I could do is everything in my power to help them out."

Less than 48 hours after the Ramblers completed their season with a loss to Evanston Township in the Waukegan Sectional semifinal, Livatino was back in his office holding individual meetings with each player.

Starting with the 10 departing seniors, Livatino discussed the factors that go into choosing a college for high school athletes.

His conversations with the two players who already committed, senior guards Ramar Evans and Matt Lynch, focused on how they felt about their next steps. With the others, Livatino asked whether they wanted to play at the next level and, if so, which schools they wanted to attend that shared an interest in them. The conversations held with the Ramblers' juniors are very similar.

"I wasn't just looking for basketball, I was looking for a fit academically and socially," said Lynch, who committed to Division III St. Norbert College. "[Livatino] said St. Norbert would be the best fit for me. It fit everything I was looking for."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

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Photo at top: La Rue Martin poses for a photo at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. (Photo courtesy of La Rue Martin)

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

By Elan Kane
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

LaRue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

"There is life after sports," Martin said. "Period."

It's been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

"I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that," Martin said. "I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."

Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in just four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He blames his low numbers on his lack of playing time, but many believe he was just not good enough.

"He didn't get playing time because he [stunk]," said Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan, who has covered the NBA for decades. "[Former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael] Olowokandi didn't do much but I think he did more than that."

Martin is used to the criticism.

"As a young man, reading the papers all the time, that bothered me, I must admit that," Martin said. "But I hold my head up high now because I've been very successful in the corporate world."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.