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'Necks to scrimmage in Naperville
MACOMB — It’s rare to see a Division I football program take to the road during spring practice. That’s exactly what Western Illinois Football will do this Saturday, traveling to Naperville North High School for the second of three scrimmages. Western’s ninth scheduled spring practice (out of 15) is set for a 2 p.m. start.
The event will allow Western to showcase its football program in the Chicago area and allow many players to scrimmage in front of family and friends.
Western Illinois head coach Mark Hendrickson thinks going to Naperville will be a great way to showcase the Leathernecks program to area high school coaches and potential recruits.
“The coaching staff and student-athletes are very excited that Saturday we’re going to have an opportunity to scrimmage in the Chicago area. Obviously we have a good number of players from the Chicago area, and of course we will be looking at another batch of recruits from the area in a year from now as well. Excitement has been building for that date because it will be unique,” said Hendrickson. “We love to scrimmage on campus at Hanson Field, but to take the show on the road in the spring – something we have never done before – there’s no question the players will be extra excited to show what they can do up in front of family and friends from the area. This is a great opportunity to showcase the Leatherneck Football program and Western Illinois University.”
The scheduled two hour practice will precede the Western Illinois University Alumni Association’s Third Annual All-Leatherneck Reunion at Ballydoyle Irish Pub and Restaurant in Aurora. The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. with a program at 6:30 p.m.
“With more than 30,000 alumni living, it is important to bring your alma mater to you whenever we can. Naperville North High School for a spring Leatherneck Football scrimmage is the perfect place followed by a reunion at Ballydoyle in Aurora,” said Amy Spelman, director of alumni programs at WIU. “We hope many of our alumni and friends will join us for an opportunity to reconnect with Western, or high school students and their families might come to learn a little more about us and consider attending Western in the future.”
Tickets to the Alumni Association event is $40 per person. Fans can register online at wiu.edu/alumni or by calling (309) 298-1914. Several former Leatherneck football players are scheduled to attend the event, including: Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jason Williams, Charlie Carey and Brodie Westen (former head coach).
Director of Athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine is excited about this event’s potential.
“I know the Leatherneck Football team is excited about this wonderful opportunity to travel to Naperville North for a spring scrimmage. We truly appreciate the efforts of Doug Smith, his staff, and many other alums like Charlie Carey and John Passananti. They have worked very hard to make this event happen,” said Van Alstine. “I commend Mark and our coaching staff for agreeing to this event. They recognize the value of a combined outreach effort with Alumni Programs to expose Western Illinois University and our football program to greater Chicago area. We hope this can be an annual event.”
In addition to the Alumni Association event and football scrimmage, the Western Illinois University Admission office will be on hand to hand out information and answer questions.
“I’d like to thank Naperville North High School Athletic Director – and WIU alumnus – Doug Smith, who graciously agreed to host our Leathernecks Spring Scrimmage (on) April 10 at Naperville North,” said WIU President Al Goldfarb. “Taking the annual spring scrimmage on the road is a wonderful opportunity for Western alumni, Chicago-area residents and prospective students to watch a quality Division I team play and to get the chance to meet the players, coaches and WIU staff.”
From the McDonough County Voice