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Boys track assistant coach accepts award
KANELAND—For two decades, Rob Bieritz has been a part of the fabric of Kaneland track.

Two weeks ago, he was awarded some hardware for his work.

Bieritz, a Batavia resident and a Class of 2001 graduate of Kaneland High School, was one of several honorees by the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as a recipient of the Dave Pasquini Assistant Coach Award. The award can only be awarded to a coach once in their lifetime, and is for extraordinary effort as an assitant coach for either track and field or cross country.

Bieritz, along with Glenbard South’s Ryan Crissey, Evanston’s George Woodridge, Chicago’s Jones rep Ben Mahon, Neuqua Valley’s Michael Rossi and Sterling’s Tom Depasquale, were honored at a social in Downers Grove, Ill., on Jan. 10.

KHS boys track coach Eric Baron informed the track staff of the honor through email; fitting because Baron is also a winner of the award, along with Randy Olesen.

The award is named after former Glenbrook South High School coach Dave Pasquini, who died of cancer.

“You look at what coach Baron has done and what Randy has done, and all the way back to Ralph Drendel, and it’s as much them surrounding me,” Bieritz said.

Starting assistant track work in 2006 under Baron, Bieritz was influenced as a coach, but first an athlete, under the Kaneland success factory.

“You can’t put a description as to what the coaches taught me, but you try to resemble what they’ve done as much as you can,” Bieritz said.

Bieritz has been able to interact with current coaches as a Knight athlete and a KHS mentor in the lanes.

“Every coach I’ve had, guys like Tom Fedderly and Chad Clarey and others, you learn from them and take what you want,” Bieritz said.

The former 300m Intermediate Hurdles state qualifier has noticed differences in his coaching approach and now has eight years of track nuances to look back with.

It’s all the better for the perennial Class 2A medal threat.

“You try not to coach in general, you have to coach toward each different kid. What you try could affect a kid differently, and you have every style of kid. They’re all different,” Bieritz said.

The award, for assistant coach achievement, was given out before the annual ITCCCA track clinic held at Oak Park-River Forest High School. It could be fitting that an award that went to Bieritz comes shortly before a clinic, signifying that an assistant coach’s work is never done.

“You have to be able to bust your butt at this, so the kids can bust theirs and see the rewards,” Bieritz said. “When the kids see what the rewards are, that’s what it’s all about.”

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.”