Niles West building team fit for new stadium
Niles West varsity coach Scott Baum opens training camp with a skilled collection of juniors who led the sophomore team to a 5-3-1 record last season. | Richard Bajjalieh~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2011 12:23PM
Niles West finished just 1-8 last season, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom in the program.
The Wolves sophomore team went 5-3-1, one of the school’s best recent performances at that level.
This summer, Wolves head coach Scott Baum is integrating the players from the Class of 2013 into the varsity. While there clearly is a learning curve, the coach said the juniors bring a lot of skills and a winning attitude to the big club.
“We’ve got a talented group of juniors coming up and they’re pushing the seniors. It makes for nice competition,” said the third-year coach. “It’s something that’s different since I’ve been there. Kids are competing harder, working hard and pushing each other.”
The coach said he’ll be welcoming a larger junior class than in recent seasons.
“The sophomores had some success and kids like being around when they’re winning,” Baum offered as an explanation.
This month, Niles West players have been lifting weights and running, and Baum has conducted a few sessions of summer camp. The schedule will grow heavier in July when Baum holds 16 of his IHSA-allowed 25 contact days.
The summer began in mid-June with a NFL-sponsored High School Player Development camp at Niles West. Players from Niles North and Maine East also participated in the week long program in which the high school players ran drills and picked up lessons in leadership.
Baum set up the camp with Mickey Pruitt, the former Robeson High, University of Colorado and Dallas Cowboys running back, who conducts similar NFL-sponsored camps for Chicago Public League kids.
“We put the thing together with Niles North and Maine East, which are similar to us in that they don’t have a ton of kids,” Baum said. “It worked out in the fact that we got to compete against other kids and we competed pretty hard. It was nice because it brought our kids closer together. Usually they are beating up each other. Now, they can compete against other teams, and that builds camaraderie.”
Baum also hopes his kids paid close attention to the program’s leadership lessons. After all, he’s looking to fill the void left by graduated quarterback Seve Loubriel, who was noted for his ability to inspire.
“He’s a kid who’ll need to be replaced (as a leader) by five, six or seven kids,” the coach said. “The nice thing is, we have a couple of seniors who are doing a nice job.”
Running back/receiver Lavelle Jordan, linebacker Terrance Bramlett and defensive player Brandon Jones are seniors who have shown a willingness to show the way.
Baum said he’s still looking for ways to get the ball in Jordan’s hands during the season.
“Tailback, quarterback, receiver — he’s just that kind of kid,” the coach said. “We’ll have to move him around to get him the ball in space.”
Junior Mike McGivern was the quarterback on the sophomore team last season and could be under center on the varsity come fall.
Junior Jake Glotzer and sophomore Nick Johnson are two skill position guys looking to make the leap from sophomore team to varsity. Junior Jeremiah Jordan, Lavelle’s brother, is a fine athlete who will have a role on the 2011 Wolves.
Niles West is scheduled to open the fall campaign on Aug. 26 when it hosts Chicago Westinghouse. The game will be the first at the school’s revamped Basrak Field, which is getting new bleachers and lights this offseason.
“It’s out with the pink bleachers and the yellow lights,” Baum said jokingly, but accurately. “Our athletic department has worked real hard to give us facilities that are second to none. They’ve worked hard to give the kids a nice place to play, which makes (the kids) feel appreciated.”