Sports

Esports: A new era of professional sports

By Jourdan Kerl
Medill Newsmakers

Professional video gaming, formally known as esports, is transforming ordinary people who play games into professional paid athletes through leagues like the NBA 2K League and Madden Championship Series. In this edition of Medill Newsmakers, we take an in-depth look at one of the fastest growing sports that is sweeping across the world.

Photo at top: Fans at COMBO BREAKER 2018 in Illinois observe Tekken 7 main stage competition. (Jourdan Kerl/MEDILL)

Ricordo McKenzie, Chicago State’s art-loving sprinter, keeps setting school records

By Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

Ricordo McKenzie can outrun opponents on the track and out-design them in Adobe.

His six Chicago State records support the former. A skim of his LinkedIn page not only substantiates the latter, but hints graphic design is a passion. Track and field is listed as an activity a third of the way down his page. McKenzie’s knowledge of multiple Adobe programs, meanwhile, is in the first sentence of his bio. It’s rooted in his affinity for art, which he developed as a child in Montego Bay, Jamaica. That came years before he turned into a competitive runner and Division I athlete.

“I would just draw stuff, draw me and my mom,” said McKenzie, now a sophomore at Chicago State. “So that sparked the interest.”

His track career, though, took off with a seemingly innocuous decision in 2011, when McKenzie was a freshman at Cornwall College (which, despite the name, is an all-boys secondary school in Montego Bay). McKenzie said he chose to run a few races at Cornwall’s fall interschool track and field competition just for fun.

“I actually ran barefooted,” McKenzie said. “And I won everything.”

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Former Athlete Helping Others Find Their Identity

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

High school athletes who don’t play sports in college all go through a transitional period of what life is like without a practice schedule.

Chloe Barnes went through that same transition and her experience, like that of thousands other athletes, wasn’t a smooth one.

So she created Elle Grace Consulting in order to help her fellow athletes find who they truly are underneath their jerseys.

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On track or in life, Cassie Bloch runs as a true fighter

By Athena Liu
Medill Reports

It was 90 degrees and the humidity high in Terra Haute, Indiana Sunday as Loyola senior Cassie Bloch ran the 1,500-meter final at the MVC Outdoor Championships, trying to better her bronze-medal finish of last year.

Unfortunately for Bloch, the competition was also fierce, and she finished the race in 4:31.24, which was 0.23 out of third place. But while Bloch was not the winner, she succeeded in crossing another finish line at the same time. While she was competing for the last time in a Loyola uniform in the sultry Indiana town, she also earned her degree in biochemistry, missing the graduation ceremony her classmates took part in that day, 200 miles away.

Bloch runs her last race in the Loyola uniform. (Photo courtesy of Dave Wegiel)

Bloch was not one to whom success came easily in her sport. She took the steady, painful route from the bottom of her team and developed into a champion, a record holder and a true leader of the program.
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International Rugby Coming to Chicago

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

At a news conference inside Soldier Field it was announced The Rugby Weekend will be held in Chicago once again.
The last time Chicago hosted the event in 2016  sell-out crowds packed the Chicago Bears stadium to see their beloved country-men and women play rugby.

Team members from Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United States all attended Tuesday’s announcement and answered questions on their anticipation of the event.


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Coach Jared Voss Gets Win Number 500

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Illinois high school baseball has a new member in the 500 club. Joliet Catholic Academy’s Head Baseball Coach Jared Voss just got win number 500 in a unique way.

Coach Voss, an alumnus of JCA, is looking to make another run at the state title and at this point their chances are pretty solid to do so.

Before the latest game against Marist High School, Voss was honored with a pregame ceremony and announcement that a commemorative plaque will be made to honor his achievement.

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Special tradition in a special lacrosse rivalry

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Every rivalry has it’s own pageantry and traditions that make it unique. The rivalry between New Trier High School and Loyola Academy has less to do with disdain and more to do with distance. The schools are less than a mile apart.

Their proximity carries onto the field.

The two high schools have the best lacrosse programs in the state of Illinois and they usual face each other in the state championship every year.

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Preview: Illinois’ best high school lacrosse match up

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Two of the best high school lacrosse programs in the state of Illinois will face-off for the first time this season.

These two schools have a rivalry that has consequences for the outcome of their games; usually the winner is the state champion.

Loyola Academy High School is hosting its rival New Trier High School Tuesday night at 5 p.m. in Wilmette, IL

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The Chicago Wildfire: Chicago’s Professional Ultimate Frisbee Team

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Chicago has a professional ultimate Frisbee team, the Chicago Wildfire. Professional Ultimate Frisbee is played within the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), comprised of teams all across the country including three Canadian teams.

With a large youth movement of the sport in the Chicago suburbs, the Wildfire is reaching out to all parts of Chicago to spread their love for the sport.

It’s early in the season for the Wildfire and they’re looking to make a run for the 2018 AUDL Championship.

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As on-court product surges, UIC faces fan-support and business challenges

By Robbie Weinstein
Medill Reports

By Chicago standards, it was a beautiful, balmy day for January 10. Classes at UIC had yet to resume after the holidays, but the 6-10 Flames men’s basketball team hosted Horizon League foe Green Bay.

Not surprisingly, fans didn’t pack the 8,000-seat UIC Pavilion. The Flames’ eventual 84-73 win over the Phoenix would be their second in a row, at the front end of what would become a 12-2 record through the next six weeks. But only 1,531 turned out for what seemed then like a relatively meaningless game.

The scene was hardly new for UIC. Having hosted plenty of sparsely attended games, it was a familiar story for a program whose operating expenses surpassed operating revenues by $731,411 in 2017, according to public records obtained by Medill Reports.

The athletic department has reasons to hope for a turnaround.

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