By Ms. Laura Towell, P.E. Specialist
What a day! Our high schoolers scored a front-row seat for discussions with professional athletes who shared their experiences in the world of sports.
First was former NFL player Cecil Martin, an extraordinary athlete and educator. Mr. Martin, a Chicago native, played for the Wisconsin Badgers and appeared in several bowl games. After graduating, he played professional football for five seasons, appearing in nearly 70 games. During his chat with students, Mr. Martin was incredibly inspiring, speaking in depth about the game and what it takes to be a student athlete.
We were also pleased to have John Tarson with us. Mr. Tarson is the Head Coach of KICS United Soccer’s Select Academy. He talked about his extensive experience as a collegiate soccer player as well as a coach. The students learned quite a bit about career opportunities in athletics and had a ton of questions for Mr. Tarson about how to get started.
Next up, an Olympian! Artistic gymnast Natalia Yurchenko provided unique advice about life, work and fitness. She claimed the women's all-around gold medal at the 1983 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Renowned for her innovative and daring gymnastics, she is best known as the originator of the Yurchenko vault family. Her accomplishments extend beyond gymnastics into business as well, and students had the opportunity to ask questions about everything she’s achieved.
Igor Sklyarov, Ms. Yurchenko's husband, closed out the day. Mr. Sklyarov grew up in Russia and played soccer from a young age. Eventually, he was selected to play in the 1988 Olympics for the Soviet Union and helped his team win the gold medal in the Olympics. Today, he coaches the U-14 team for the FC Chicago Soccer Club. Mr. Sklyarov was a hit with the students, who had the chance to try on all of this gold medals and see his winning certificates! We appreciate Mr. Sklyarov’s open, friendly demeanor and his humble insight into his achievements and professional athletics.
It’s not often you’re face-to-face with such accomplished athletes! We thank Mr. Martin, Mr. Tarson, Ms. Yurchenko and Mr. Sklyarov for their time and won’t soon forget their stories or advice for the future.
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