All posts by christopherkwiecinski2018

Commentary: Legalized sports betting shows the Big Ten’s recent tradition of cutting corners

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

The unthinkable happened to the Big Ten coaches on May 14, 2018: tradition was changed. The natural order was shattered. Comfort became the uncomfortable.

In reality, the U.S. Supreme Court just legalized sports gambling across the nation.

This was a metaphysical thorn in the sides of all 14 Big Ten coaches. It was also one of the first topics addressed on the first day of Big Ten Media Days, and it carried over across both July 23 and 24. But, that’s because it just cost coaches a competitive advantage.

“Avoid it like the plague,” Harbaugh said of what he told his players gambling. “Don’t walk away from that, run.”

It almost seemed like Harbaugh was talking to himself.

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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh says ‘willingness on both parts’ needed to continue rivalry vs. Notre Dame

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Michigan will play Notre Dame for the first time since 2014 on September 1, renewing a rivalry between two of the winningest programs in college football.

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played in two games against the Fighting Irish as a player, said any continuation of the series against Notre Dame will come down to whether or not the two programs are willing to schedule more games.

“It’s one of those things where both parties are willing to put it on their schedule,” Harbaugh said.

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Is Glen Ellyn’s Ethan Cepuran the future of Illinois speed skating?

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Ethan Cepuran was simply trying to make it through the 2018 Junior World Championships with at least one top-20 finish.

After two days of skating against some of the world’s best up-and-coming speed skaters, the Glen Ellyn native hadn’t finished better than 25th. He even described his performance as poor.

Then, came the mass-start event.

Cepuran, who originally didn’t have spot in the mass start – an event where all competing skaters race at the same time – won silver in the race to secure that elusive top-20 finish.

“I was skating, and then I was on the podium,” he said. “It was all kind of a blur.”

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Protestors and pro-second amendment activists counter Chicago-area walkouts

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

As tens of thousands of Chicago-area students walked out in protest of school shootings, gun owners, conservatives and students alike found ways to make their opposing voices heard.

Students stayed inside and gun owners launched counter protests to make their pro-gun stances known on a day that featured many anti-gun themes.

Bob Garza, a gun owner and member of Illinois Gun Owners Together, said students should be concerned about violence taking place in schools, however students with political agendas should not have been allowed to participate in the walkout.

“Once you allow them to take time off to express political events, you have to let them take time off for other political events,” Garza said. “If you’re going to be fair to everybody, you can’t pick and choose every time you’re going to apply the rule.”

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Chicago-area students walk out in protest of school shootings

By Serena Yeh
Medill Reports

At Oak Park and River Forest High School Wednesday morning, around 1000 students, many wearing orange in solidarity, walked out of their classes at 10 a.m., carrying signs protesting gun violence while marching around their school compound.

At Evanston Township High School, almost all 3,500 students entered their football stadium to chants of “Enough is Enough” and “NRA, Go Away.”

As they filled the bleachers, the students were given papers with a script template and 12 legislators’ phone numbers.

After listening to speeches from student senators, the ETHS students huddled in groups of twos or threes and made calls to pressure the lawmakers.

These students were among tens of thousands from elementary to middle to high schools to colleges across Chicago and the suburbs who marched out of their classes at 10 a.m. to protest gun violence and to stand for the victims of last month’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, where 17 people were killed.

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Gun stores see rise in profits amidst post-Parkland gun legislation

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Sales in Illinois gun stores have risen in the past month, as gun owners fear their firearms will be confiscated or gun costs will rise due to potential legislative changes, gun-store owners said this week.

The potential new laws stem from reaction to the Parkland shooting last month.

According to Todd Vandermyde, executive director of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, the first mention of stricter gun laws sets off a chain reaction that always seems to lead to panic among gun owners.

“Any time the government moves to restrict firearms in a very brash or broad way, usually it sets off a small panic buying,” Vandermyde said. “It generally spurs gun owners to stock up and make the purchases they were contemplating and had been putting off.”

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Three Chicagoans lead the USA Sled Hockey Team into the 2018 Paralympics

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

ROLLING MEADOWS – With the pomp and circumstance coming from the Winter Olympics, it’s easy to forget the 2018 Paralympics compete just two weeks after.

Athletes have trained and prepared to compete in five sports, and begin their Games on March 9.

Illinois’ three sled hockey players, Josh Misiewicz, Brody Roybal and Kevin McKee, were preparing in a different kind of way recently.

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Meet the Chicago-area athletes competing in Pyeongchang

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

The highly anticipated 2018 Winter Olympics will begin on Thursday. Here are the 12 Illinois athletes who have qualified for the Games. .

Kevin Bickner – 21, ski jumping

Bickner, who makes up one-third of the Norge Ski Club’s Olympians, qualified for the Olympics with a high World Cup showing. Even though he didn’t win the U.S. trials to qualify, Bickner was never worried about his status with Team USA.

Kendall Coyne – 25, ice hockey

In her second Olympics, Coyne, a Palos Heights native, will try to win an elusive gold medal after taking silver in 2014. The 25-year-old helped the U.S. team win gold at the 2017 World Championships. Continue reading

Northbrook club’s speed skating alum carries swagger to South Korea

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

MILWAUKEE – He doesn’t make outlandish guarantees, but it’s easy to see that two-time Olympian Mitchell Whitmore isn’t short on confidence. 

Asked about his expectations for the 2018 Winter Games, Whitmore, who trained at the Northbrook Speed Skating Club, showcases more bravado than his fellow speed- skating Olympians.

“I think I have a chance to win a medal this time around,” Whitmore last week said about his Olympic expectations.

Whitmore, a Waukesha, Wisconsin, native, pointed to his improved 2017-2018 World Cup performances to support his confidence.

According to International Skating Union, Whitmore improved his 500-meter race from a 16th-place finish in Heerenveen, Netherlands on November 12, to a 3rd-place finish in Calgary on December 3.

These World Cup performances came against most of the skaters Team USA will face in Pyeongchang. This includes Netherlands skater, and medal favorite, Ronald Mulder, whom Whitmore sees as a main competitor in the oval.

“I really enjoy when I’m ahead of him,” Whitmore said.

U.S. All-round Long Track team head coach Tom Cushman echoed Whitmore’s confidence, saying he has a “very good” chance to medaling in South Korea.

“He just set the track record in Milwaukee,” Cushman said.

“He’s just on a very nice progression.”

Despite not being a medal favorite on paper, Whitmore’s 2017-2018 World Cup finishes have given him a confidence boost heading into the Games.

“I didn’t expect a lot, but I had a couple placings higher than what I was expecting,” Whitmore said.

Asked a similar question, two of Whitmore’s counterparts, three-time Olympian Brian Hansen and two-time Olympian Emery Lehman, shied away from swaggering statements.

Hansen, who owns a silver medal from the 2010 Olympic games, said it wasn’t too crazy to think he could medal, but had tamer expectations overall.

“I don’t expect to get on the podium,” Hansen said. “My biggest thing is that I want to know that I executed the race as the best that I could.”

Lehman also stayed away from the idea of great Olympic expectations.

“I skated faster this time around at World Cups; I placed lower,” the 21-year-old Lehman said. “I don’t know what to expect going in.”

Whitmore improvement and bravado could prove to be the missing pieces, as he said he wasn’t medal threat in 2014.

“I’m just an overall better skater now,” Whitmore said.

The Petit National Ice Center, where the U.S. Long Track Speed Skating team trained prior to the 2018 Olympics. (Chris Kwiecinski/MEDILL)

Trio of Chicagoans make Olympic ski-jumping history in 2018

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Three of the four members on the U.S. Olympic ski-jumping team hail from Illinois’ lone ski-jumping club, and have made history for their training club in the process.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced on January 25 Wauconda’s Kevin Bickner and Barrington’s Casey Larson will join Cary’s Michael Glasder on the 2018 Olympic team, marking the first ski jumpers from the northwest-suburban Norge Ski Club to make the Olympics.

Park City, Utah, native Will Rhoads was the fourth and final ski jumper to make the Olympic team.

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