Former North Park Football Player Transforms Lives

Post a Comment » Written on January 5th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (January 5, 2007) – Elbert Kern dramatically shifted his approach to coaching high school football following a disastrous 2005 season that saw his team lose every game.

Coach Kern, a 1992 graduate of North Park University, decided to invest his life in their lives. He became what the Chicago Tribune called “a life coach, not just a football coach.”

As a result, the Steinmetz High School Silver Streaks went on to capture the conference and Chicago division titles. But it was the dramatic transformation in the lives of the players off the field that led the Tribune to publish a front-page feature about the Kern and his team. Click here to read the Tribune article.

“The losing season was terrible, and I felt like I had let the kids down,” Kern told the Tribune. “I needed to make changes.”

Those changes began during a moment in practice. “It hit me one day after I was yelling at football players who work to support their brothers and sisters.” Kern told the Tribune. Some either are parents or going to become parents. I needed to find a new way to reach them.”

He helped with parenting advice, bereavement counseling for those who lost family members, employment input, and academic tutoring. One player who was expecting his first child shared how the coach had discussed parenting with him.

“I thought he was going to yell at me, and instead he told me there’s so much more I need to learn about raising a kid,” one of his player recalled in the Tribune article. “I’m learning about football and getting help with being a parent. That makes you really want to play for the man.”

“I’m so grateful for what Coach has done for me,” another told the Tribune. “The man has taken an interest in me. He really means it when he says ‘Let me help you.’ ”

Seeing the team’s accomplishments on and off the field has impacted the rest of the school, which enrolls 2,450 students, 85 percent of whom come from low-income backgrounds.

Principal Eunice Madon told the Tribune, “What’s happened this year sets a good example for all of our students to follow.”

“The man,” as the students call Kern played football at North Park from 1988 to 1992, and still helps his alma mater by volunteering for the Vikings.

On the North Park University website, head coach Scott Pethtel says, “Elbert Kern was one of the first coaches I met after taking over the North Park University football program last January. He has made it a habit to drop by my office regularly to talk about the players he has in his program at Steinmetz. North Park currently has several Steinmetz players on our roster and is recruiting a few more for 2007. Coach Kern definitely instills a sense of pride and work ethic in the young men that he comes in contact with.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog