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the Tinley Junction | April 11, 2019 | 39

fastbreak

THURSDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK

PepsiCo Series could be popping on and off the field

1st and 3

PHOTO SUBMITTED

A FEW HEAVY

FACTS ABOUT THE

WEIGHTLIFTING

PROGRAM AT TINLEY

PARK HIGH SCHOOL

1. It’s a go

Fifteen TPHS athletes

took part in a

recent weightlifting

seminar and one of

the guest coaches

was Bears assistant

strength coach

Pierre Ngo.

2. Seasoning

Those athletes

who are in season

lift lighter weights

just to keep the

muscles active.

Those who are

out of season lift

heavier amounts.

3. Bye-bye skinny fat

Instructor Cassie

Gaines (above)

says the program

helps athletes who

are “skinny fat,”

meaning those who

are in shape but

do not have a lot of

muscle.

Jeff Vorva

Sports Editor

Andrew’s soccer team, shown before a match earlier in the season, is in the PepsiCo Showdown, which soon will

turn into the PepsiCo Showdown Series and feature more sports. JEFF VORVA/22ND CENTURY MEDIA

Two District 230

girls soccer teams,

Andrew and Stagg,

opened play in the final

PepsiCo Showdown,

on Saturday, April 6, at

Olympic Park in Schaumburg.

Do not worry, soccer

fans: The tournament

itself is not going anywhere.

But it is being

re-branded.

For the past 17 years,

the event was open to

boys soccer teams, and

in 2008 to both boys and

girls teams. After this

event, which features

hundreds of schools,

wraps up on April 14, the

soccer tournament will be

a fraction of something

even bigger: the PepsiCo

Showdown Series.

The plan is for this to

extend into tournaments

for sports such as volleyball,

cross country, basketball,

football, lacrosse —

wait a minute. Football?

Yes, football.

The other sports will be

featured later this year. In

2021, the year the Illinois

High School Association

is going to wipe out

conferences and implement

a district system,

the football tournament

will start. Starting that

year across the state, only

district games with count

for or against a team for

playoff consideration.

Two non-district games

will not.

So, PepsiCo Showdown

Series Executive Director

Joe Trost, who grew up on

the border of Mokena and

Orland Park, has swooped

in and is hoping to use

those first two weeks of

the season as a bunch

of two-week, four-team

tournaments for elite

teams held at Benedictine

in Lisle one weekend and

Robert Morris University

in Arlington Heights the

next.

“It’s a 16-team tournament

broken into pods of

four,” Trost said. “Colleges

can send a scout

and see 16 schools at one

site in 36 hours. There are

schools from all over the

nation. We’ve got them

all. The model is to have

all teams at one site on

back-to-back weekends.”

Look for Lincoln-Way

East, Brother Rice and

Marist to represent the

south suburbs.

Trost, a communications

and marketing guru

who got his start as a

sports writer of a twiceweekly

newspaper in the

south suburbs that doesn’t

exist anymore, helped turn

the soccer tournaments

into monsters. He hopes

to do the same thing in

several other sports.

But here’s the key: The

soccer tournaments have

received publicity for action

on the field as well as

off the field. If you want

to get into one of these

bad boy tournaments,

your team must agree to

do some acts of kindness.

Thousands of soccer players

have done their part,

and Trost is aiming for a

lot more to get on board

with the expansion.

Many of the projects

involve helping those less

fortunate.

“In January, football

teams will be doing

something in their communities,”

Trost said. “In

February, it’s volleyball

teams. In March, soccer.

We’ll do something all

year.”

Trost has had several

heartwarming moments

since the start of the event

in 2003. One sticks out in

his mind.

“Hands down, it was

the first time we surprised

a school with bikes,” he

said. “It hit all of us. It

was March, 2016, and the

thing I realize is that when

you give a bike to a kid

who has never had a bike

before, there is just an excitement

you don’t always

get to see.

“I watched WGN [TV]

after we did this, and they

talked to these kids and all

of a sudden, they go to the

mom and the mom is crying.

And the mom is crying

because she couldn’t

afford to buy a bike for

the kid. I was sitting there

watching it after the event

and I realized we did

make a difference.”

There should be a lot

more where that came

from in the future.

LISTEN UP

“Now, with my athletes, I’m trying to develop power, strength

and speed so it transfers onto their playing field.”

Cassie Gaines — Tinley Park High School weightlifting instructor

Tune In

Baseball

4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17

• Tinley Park hosts Sandburg, a team that finished

fourth in the state in Class 4A in 2018.

Index

36 - Sports roundup

35 - Athlete of the Week

Compiled by Sports Editor Jeff Vorva

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