Tag Archives: Ralph Drendel

School board approves hiring of two interim athletic directors

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board agreed to hire two interim athletic directors for the the school year on Monday.

The two directors are Rudy Keller and Ralph Drendel.

Board member Tony Valente was the only member to vote no.

“You can go without this position for half a year,” Valente said.

The original plan had been to hire a trio of retirees, including Ross Truemper, Keller and Drendel.

Truemper and Keller worked at West Aurora High School as co-interim principal for two years and have experience in athletics and activities.

Drendel is a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student.

“It just turned out that Ross had some conflicts in his schedule that made it difficult for him to support us,” said Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler after the meeting. “It just didn’t work out.”

According to a memorandum, Keller will receive $500 per day not to exceed 70 days. That totals up to $35,000. Drendel will receive $250 per day not to exceed 100 days. That totals up to $25,000.

“(That’s) something you can live without for six months,” Valente said. “That’s the issue in my eyes—exorbitant spending.”

Schuler spoke favorably of Keller and Drendel.

“Nothing has changed,” Schuler said. “We’re still providing the same level of support we anticipated. It’s more than just an athletics activities position. It really has a key operational focus for the entire building.”

Kaneland tabs retiree trio as interim athletic director

by Stefanie Frazier

KANELAND—Kaneland High School’s search for an interim athletic director has concluded.

Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler recently announced a “finalized plan” to fill the interim athletics and activities director position for this school year at KHS.

The people set to take on the job include retirees Ross Truemper, Rudy Keller and Ralph Drendel.

According to Erika Schlichter, director of Educational Services 6-12 for the Kaneland School District, the Kaneland School Board is expected to approve the new directors at the board meeting on Dec. 9.

“We ran an interview process,” Schlichter said. “And these candidates rose to the top of the interview process and were selected.”

Truemper and Keller worked at West Aurora High School as co-interim principal for two years and have experience in athletics and activities.

Drendel is a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student.

Schlichter explained that it is needed to have three interim directors because of limited work days for retirees.

“No one person can work more than 100 days,” Schlichter said. “And so in order to meet our complete dates in this position through the end of the school year, it was necessary to have more than one person. That’s a very common practice.”

The need to fill the position came after former KHS athletic director Leigh Jaffke, who also served as activities director, resigned prior to the Oct. 16 School Board meeting. She had served as athletic director for 14 years.

Meanwhile, Keller said he started to settle in on Monday, with getting his email address and desk situated.

Keller said that he has been treated like “royalty” by Kaneland staff. He has received smiles and well-wishes from staff and students.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” Keller said. “I’m looking forward to a successful winter and spring at Kaneland High School with a highly spirited group of staff and students.”

Kaneland announces interim athletics, activities director

Maple Park—Kaneland School District 302 recently announced a finalized plan for filling the position of interim athletics and activities director for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.

The position will be filled by a team of three retired educators, who will each contribute to the program in unique ways.

Ross Truemper and Rudy Keller come to Kaneland with numerous years of administrative experience and expertise, including experience in athletics, activities and high school principalships. As retired administrators, they are well known in the area for the strong administrative support they have been able to offer school districts on an interim basis. Most recently, they worked together for two years as West Aurora High School’s interim principal.

Ralph Drendel returns to Kaneland High School as a third member of the team. As a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student, Ralph brings with him a passion for Kaneland and a commitment to supporting athletics and activities programming.

The team approach to filling the interim position was crafted with the goal of both supporting needs for the remainder of the current school year, as well as identifying processes and setting up systems that will promote success when the permanent position is filled.

Kaneland High School will begin gathering feedback and input from community, staff and students in January 2014 regarding the search for a permanent athletics and activities director.

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Coaching back to Normal

Former KHS standout Drendel having a ball at Normal West
KANELAND—You’ll have to excuse area volleyball fans if there is some positive sentiment for another team besides Kaneland High School.

That’s because the incoming Normal West Wildcats program comes into the usual late October Spikefest competition with a bit of Kaneland presence itself.

The visitors are coached by Class of 2005 Lady Knight Kelsey Drendel, who continues to add to the Drendel line of coaching capability, along with her coaching legend father Ralph and brother Andy, who currently helps staff cross country and track and field at Kaneland.

Kelsey, a former volleyball standout at Kaneland and a former Division I asset for Northern Illinois, is in her second year of coaching NW. She also coached Kaneland sophomores from 2008-10 under former varsity head coach Todd Weimer.

“When I was applying everywhere for jobs, my parents told me to apply in Unit 5 (Normal West’s district), because they went to ISU and I have some family in the Bloomington-Normal area,” Kelsey said. “I was super pumped when I got the video interview and was convinced I bombed it, but they called me back for a second interview. This is my third year teaching here, and I’m loving it.”

For Kelsey, the Bloomington-Normal landscape gives her some comfort, being not too dissimilar to the Elburn and Tri-Cities area.

“I do think it’s similar to Kaneland and kind of like the St. Charles area. It reminds me of a suburb but without the traffic, long travel times, and everything is way cheaper,” Kelsey said.

Her family tree so heavily involved in coaching also seemed to give her a leg up on the sideline.

“Growing up with my parents both highly involved in their schools definitely made an impact on my decision to coach. I knew I wanted to be a head coach when I was in high school. Seeing my Dad coach at track meets and basketball games was always so cool and I knew I wanted to follow in those footsteps,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey’s also loving the fortunes of her Wildcat lineup, who before Tuesday were 18-2-1 and undefeated in conference at 7-0, on the cusp of a conference title.

“I didn’t like know in August things would be going as well as they are, but I knew we had a lot of potential,” Kelsey said. “The girls have done an awesome job of taking on the challenge of long practices, conditioning, tough rivalry matches. It’s kind of been an uphill ride the entire season.”

In her first season, NW went 22-13-1 and made it to the Class 4A Normal Sectional Championship before bowing out.

As a young coach, Kelsey still has the presence of mind to accumulate coaching influences throughout her playing and assistant coaching days.

“I have been influenced by every coach I’ve had. I kind of made it a point to remember things I liked or didn’t like all through college so I could apply it when I started coaching. Kris Weiss was a big influence on me especially for learning how to build a team atmosphere. My club coach Joe Brudzinski was a huge influence on me and always pushed us to the limit,” Kelsey said.

“I really owe a lot to Ron Sweet,” Kelsey added. “He gave me the opportunity to continue playing volleyball after my freshmen year at Western Illinois when I had no confidence at all. He also showed me that we can work hard on the court but also have a lot of fun. He opened up the door for me to start coaching at Club Fusion in Rockford, Ill. Not only have I been influenced by the coaches I’ve played under, but also the coaches I have coached with or against,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey and company head to Maple Park for Spikefest, which provides an ample tune-up for what’s ahead next week in the postseason, and add to what’s been a rewarding experience.

“We try and take every opportunity we can to get better whether it’s practice or a match,” Kelsey said. “My team and I have had a lot of fun this year and there are some personality traits that they have picked up from me and vice versa. I’m super-dorky and they have become a little more nerdy every day, which is awesome. They do a great job of focusing and working hard but while also having fun because of that. It’s been a really fun year for sure.”

Military film features former KHS athlete

Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Shaun Kramer and fellow air-traffic controllers are responsible for monitoring hundreds of aircraft movements daily at the Contingency Operating Base Speicher Terminal in Tikrit, Iraq. Scroll down for the video. Courtesy Photo

by Keith Beebe
MAPLE PARK—It’s unlikely that any young boy hoping to someday become a soldier is also dreaming of someday appearing in a U.S. Department of Defense video, but that’s exactly what happened to former Maple Park resident Shaun Kramer.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Kramer was one of several soldiers to appear in the video about how the U.S. Air Force and Army work with Iraqi civilians to safely and efficiently run the Contingency Operating Base Speicher Arrival and Departure Airfield Control Group (ADAG) Air Terminal in Tikrit, Iraq.

Kramer is an air traffic controller and training supervisor assigned to Company F, 3-25 General Support Aviation Battalion, Task Force Hammerhead, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. Military officials selected him early in his deployment to appear in the film, in which he gave his perspective on the Contingency Operating Base Speicher functioning as a gateway to Northern Iraq.

“I attempted to clearly illustrate the fact that Speicher Tower helps to orchestrate and move much-needed personnel and equipment all throughout Iraq,” he said. “For me, the mission the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade does here (is) directly contributes to success throughout Iraq.”

As an air traffic controller, Kramer, along with his fellow controllers, are responsible for more than 500 aircraft movements during each 12-hour shift. He likes his work, although it is demanding.

“What I like best about my job is the amount of responsibility, as well as the number of lives that we are responsible for safely moving each day,” he said. “I think the hardest part of my job is staying focused all the time. Being on top of things 99 out of 100 times isn’t good enough.”

Kramer’s desire to travel and see the world inspired him to join the Army Reserves in August 1999. His older brother, Clint, recruited him to join the Army. Clint is a Sergeant First Class who is currently deployed in Afghanistan. Military service has offered both of them a chance not only to serve their country, but to pursue their personal interests.

“My brother always wanted to be a police officer, and I always liked aviation,” Kramer said. “The Army is allowing both of us to do what we like.”

Kramer joined active duty in 2006 and is currently on his second combat tour of Iraq.

Soldier remembers
coach’s influence

U.S. Army Sgt. Shaun Kramer grew up in Maple Park and was named All-State in track and field four times while attending Kaneland High School. His track coach, Ralph Drendel, was a superb role model who pushed Kramer to achieve great things, he said.

“(Drendel) was one of the biggest influences to my success as a teenager,” Kramer said. “In many ways, he got me ready for the Army. He showed me that hard work and determination will lead to good things in life, and that’s one of the reasons I was so prepared for Army life.”

See the video:

Drendel gets due; KHS mainstay inducted into coaches’ hall of fame

by Mike Slodki

When asked to reflect on the recent honor bestowed upon him, former Kaneland track coach Ralph Drendel simply said, “I’ve got a lot of Kaneland in my system.”

It might be that all-encompassing take on his career that inducted Drendel into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame on Jan. 10 in a ceremony at Oak-Park River Forest High School.

Drendel was accompanied to the ceremony by coaches Eric Baron, Joe Thorgesen, Matt Smith, Barney Callaghan, Randy Olesen, Robby Bieritz and Chad Clarey, along with the rest of the Drendel family.

“I’ve never had a more passionate coach,” Clarey said. “He stressed working hard and putting on the best home meets possible.”

A KHS teacher from 1978-2005, Drendel coached track and field athletes to over 60 State medals and two State trophies (90-99), and was coach of the year on three occasions (90-91-99).

Fellow former Kaneland coach Bruce Peterson is also a member of the Hall of Fame. Current Kaneland assistant coach Randy Olesen was also honored with the Dave Pasquinini Award for Assistant Coach of the Year. Current boys track coach Eric Baron was given the award in 2001 for cross country.

Other honorees at the hall-of-fame gathering were OPRF coach Glenn Cothern, Springfield Lanphier’s Mike Garcia, John Lemke of Rolling Meadows, Barrington’s Debbie Revolta, OPRF coach Josa Sosa and Champaign Central’s Dike Stirrett.

Drendel, who’s resume includes being the point man for home track invites and doing P.A. for athletic events, was humbled by his peers joining him in the hall, and about those who already reside there.

“You sit there and watch all these great coaches and these guys are really good. You can’t believe you get to join them,” Drendel said. “I just wanted to do a good job at being in charge of the events.”

Drendel joins the the elite brethen, but not without remembering what it took to get there, and with whom.

“Eddington, Bob Pederson, Bruce Peterson, Joe Thorgesen, these are pretty important people in my life. I learned from guys like them,” Drendel said.

Upon learning of the honor, Clarey asked Drendel to be at KHS to give a talk to the cross-country team before the WSC meet, where Peterson and Drendel’s family joined in announcing the honor.

“It was after practice, and I was so excited and proud that they would choose my dad,” said current sophomore volleyball coach Kelsey Drendel, Ralph’s daughter. “I most want to emulate his ability to motivate his athletes to always give their best effort and to reach for something higher than they could even imagine.

The hall-of-fame member of the Drendel clan summed up his continuing Kaneland story.

“I went to Kaneland, my kids went here and it’s a good place to have your kids grow up. At the end of the day you did this for the kids and tried to do the best you could.”