All posts by danielmoberger2020

Pandemic amplifies mental health struggles in already vulnerable young athletes

By Dan Moberger
Medill Reports

At 5:30 p.m. on a muggy Tuesday in mid-July, parents dropped off their teenage daughters at Fleet Fields, a parking lot converted to basketball courts in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Flanked by industrial-looking brick buildings on three sides, the blacktop has afforded an attractive, open-air training grounds for Flow Basketball Academy during the pandemic.

The thermometer read 83 degrees when practice began, and sparse, wispy clouds decorated the otherwise clear blue sky, leaving the sun an unimpeded lane to the young athletes. Not long after coach and co-owner Korie Hlede started running the team through drills, sweat beaded up on the brows and arms of players. None of them wore a mask.

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Beef mecca Buenos Aires shifts toward more vegetable options

By Dan Moberger and Colin Boyle
Medill Reports

Meat, especially beef, is deeply embedded in Argentina’s culture. Argentines consume more beef per capita than residents of any other country.

Family gatherings revolve around “asados,” which most Americans would call a barbecue. Sporting events, protests and everyday lunch breaks give locals a chance to try a variety of meats, often grilled at makeshift stands.

The country’s top eatery is a steakhouse called Don Julio Parilla. It’s ranked No. 34 by William Reed’s list of the world’s best restaurants. Traditional Argentine dishes include a schnitzel-like breaded meat cutlet, heavy cuts of steak, meat-stuffed empanadas and a chorizo sandwich fondly known as “choripan.”

Vegan and vegetarian diets have been growing in popularity across the world, but Argentina has been relatively intolerant of them, until now. Meat consumption in Argentina was at an all-time low in 2019. Vegans and vegetarians still face ridicule from meat-loving traditionalists, but they have an increasing array of options. Buenos Aires, the capital city, now has over 60 vegan or vegetarian restaurants.

The dip in meat consumption is explained by a variety of reasons. The rising popularity of vegetable-heavy or -only diets, more visible animal rights activism and the nation’s struggling economy all likely contributed. In this video, we go to the source and ask Porteños — as the people of Buenos Aires are called — about the cultural shift.

Photo at top: A plate of steak at Don Julio Parrilla in Buenos Aires is served up on a Tuesday afternoon at the world-famous steakhouse. (Colin Boyle/MEDILL)

Return trip?: Q&A with Evanston Township High coach Mike Ellis on his love of basketball and getting back to the state finals

By Dan Moberger
Medill Reports

Tucked away down the hall from Evanston Township High School’s orange and blue gymnasium, Mike Ellis’ office looks like an equipment closet. Ellis, 49, doesn’t have any windows to the outside world — or even a window to the hallway. But that allows the coach more wall space to tack up pictures of former players who played college basketball. The Lyme, Ohio native grew up watching his father coach and knew early on he would like to turn his passion for sports into a career. Now in his 10th season heading the program, his Wildkits begin their state playoff run March 3 and eye a second-straight trip to the finals.

Evanston Township High School boys varsity basketball head coach Mike Ellis watches members of his team wrap up practice with a series of sprints on Jan. 13. Ellis’ Wildkits begin their state tournament run March 3. (Dan Moberger/MEDILL)

What makes a good coach?

Accountability is one of the biggest pieces you can institute in coaching because in honesty it’s about life lessons. When they get out of high school, they’re going to be accountable to their bills, they’re going to be accountable to family, they’re going to be accountable to their job. So, you’re just trying to teach them more about life than you are about basketball, and I think if you can mesh those two, that’s what makes a good coach.

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