Kurt Becker played guard for the World Champion Chicago Bears and was roommates with quarterback Jim McMahon. These days he’s the coach of his alma mater, East Aurora High School near Chicago.
Kurt has a successful business and didn’t need to get into coaching. He did it to help the kids; most from disadvantaged families with few prospects for higher education and beyond.
Pinnacle Forum Partners Angelo Kleronomos and Bill Read and the other members of the Greater Chicago Pinnacle Forum group have stepped up to help Coach Becker. They took the entire football team and coaches to dinner at a restaurant owned by one of the Partners. They introduced themselves, took an interest in the players and later encouraged the coach to challenge his kids to read the book When The Game Stand Tall. (https://www.amazon.com/When-Game-Stands-Michael-Chiklis/dp/B00MAMZ17S)
Twelve guys responded and joined the coach’s “book club.” All finished the book and were rewarded with another dinner and letter jackets. (The players will have to earn their letters.) The book’s author, Neil Hayes, heard about the effort and came to the dinner to meet the boys and sign books.
“Coach Becker is a taskmaster who takes no nonsense,” Angelo says. “His boys are in the weight room at 6:30 a.m. They have to keep up their grades or they don’t play. The majority are Hispanic or African American and they don’t have a lot of adults who believe in them or are building into their lives.”
The school is only a few miles from where many of us live,” Bill says, “but the socio-economics are worlds apart. More than 90% of the families whose kids attend East Aurora are on welfare. Most are single parent families and fewer than 60% of the kids graduate.”
“Taking a practical interest in the football team is a way for us to build into the school without coming across as religious,” Angelo explains. “I’m on the board of our community college and the Brookfield zoo and I love doing things like this that benefit the community. Investing in these kids is such a worthy endeavor.
“Our faith is a major reason behind what we’re doing,” Bill adds, “but it’s not the initial focus. Our goal is to help the kids. The team building and character development Coach Becker is doing is healthy for everyone. As a follow up to the book club, we’re considering giving Bibles to any of the boys who will commit to reading them.”
Bill and Angelo’s football initiative illustrates how the group works. Other members have presented other projects and the Partners pray and assess each opportunity and then decide which ones they want to “get their arms and hearts around,” as Angelo puts it.
“Everyone in our group wants to make a difference,” Bill says. “We support one another, pray for one another and work together on projects that interest us.”
“I’m so encouraged by this group of guys,” Angelo says. “They’re my church right now. Recently my wife said, ‘I wish I could be a fly on the wall at those meetings. You come home so energized!”