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The Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cup championships in the last eight years, play with top-notch endurance, strength and muscle flexibility, due in part to dozens of College of Lake County health and wellness students and graduates. Since 2011, CLC students have helped assess the fitness levels of Blackhawks’ players during training camps.
No other college is involved with the Blackhawks in this way, said Dr. Francis Ardito, professor and founder of CLC’s health and wellness promotion program. Ardito has worked with the Blackhawks since the late 1980s under the auspices of Kim Rostello, a Blackhawks exercise physiologist consultant and CLC health and wellness promotion adjunct instructor.
“The training camps offer our students real-world experiential learning that looks great on their resumes,” Ardito said. “Having a longstanding relationship with professional and elite athletes and sports teams like the Chicago Blackhawks really enriches the reputation and credibility of our program.”
With over 20 players participating in each session, completing the fitness tests in a timely manner takes more than 15 people, many of whom are CLC students or graduates, Ardito said. The students are volunteers, but their participation counts toward clinical hours required for earning their degree or certificate.
Photo: From left, Kim Rostello, an exercise physiologist consultant for the Chicago Blackhawks, and Marcelo Vega, a CLC graduate, review a Hand Grip Dynamometer used to assess forearm and grip strength, which is important in hockey.
Three different camps, one each for Blackhawks rookies, prospects and veteran players, are held each summer, usually at the United Center, explained Ardito. In addition to the Blackhawks, he has worked with hundreds of professional and Olympic-level athletes, including the United States Karate Team.
Because working with the Blackhawks is a resume-building experience for the students, Ardito and Rostello hold a competitive process to select the participants.
The fitness tests have included a five-mile stationary bike test, in which each player is fitted with a heart rate monitor, and a test that involves having players stand on one foot, then jump and land on both feet. The latter test, which mimics the motion of skating, helps the Blackhawks’ training staff determine a player’s single-leg power. A third assessment, known as a pull-up test, measures upper-body pulling strength by requiring players to do chin-ups with a stick in their laps and their legs at a 90-degree angle.
The chance to work with Blackhawks players has left a lasting impression on CLC students. “It’s been very inspiring to see the players’ leadership, dedication and talent,” said participant Marcelo Vega, who holds a CLC certificate in wellness coaching and an Associate in Arts degree. Now majoring in business administration at Northeastern Illinois University, Vega also co-owns a successful business and is a mentor for CLC’s Men of Vision student organization, a group he was active in while attending CLC.
Vega, who has participated in 14 of the Hawks’ training camps since 2013, said he now emphasizes the same values—realistic goal-setting, self-confidence and rebounding from failure—when mentoring CLC students and leading his business. “There’s a great, positive vibe in the Blackhawks organization,” he said. “It’s been an honor to work with them for the past five years.”
CLC’s Health and Wellness Promotion program is accepting enrollments for the second half of the Spring Semester (starting March 12), Summer Session and Fall Semester at www.clcillinois.edu. Summer classes begin June 4, and fall classes start Aug. 20.
To learn about CLC’s health and wellness promotion program, visit www.clcillinois.edu/programs/hwp or contact Ardito at (847) 543-2479 or email@example.com. Or contact Dr. Joana Pabedinskas, department chair, at (847) 543-2029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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