Guerin Prep player signs letter with Western Michigan
Guerin Prep High School student Kristof Ifkovits has signed a letter of intent to play football for Western Michigan University. He is the first Guerin Prep athlete to be recruited to play for a Division I school. | David Pollard~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:36AM
RIVER GROVE — As Guerin Prep’s football season started last fall, things didn’t look too promising.
Many veteran players were not returning.
Kristof Ifkovits, 17, a senior lineman who played both defense and offense, was willing to do his best, but he wondered what was next for him playing a sport he was not ready to let go of.
But he also kept in mind what his defensive line coach had told him and his teammates at the start of the season:
“Find a purpose.”
Those three words from Vince Nardiello became Ifkovits’ motivation. And he did find a purpose: to play college football.
He’s done that and more, signing a letter of intent with Western Michigan University Feb. 6 on a full four-year athletic scholarship. His signing is the first time in the high school’s history a student was recruited to play for a Division I school.
His head coach, Tony Pecoraro, said Ifkovits put in the hard work needed to accomplish this and has been loyal to the school and the community.
“I think he’s a great leader,” he said. “He started here and he’ll end here.”
Ifkovits, who almost gave up on football after his freshman year, said he’s glad he stuck with it. He’s also glad his accomplishment has silenced those who told him it wasn’t going to happen.
“When I started working (out) every day, and dieting, they (friends) said ‘You either have natural talent or you don’t,’” he said.
He hasn’t heard much negative talk lately.
“I feel like it’s a blessing,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to prove myself to everyone that I deserve this and everything I work for.”
He’s a bit nervous about the new challenges ahead of him in college. At Guerin Prep he’s the biggest and tallest person in the school — 6-foot-4, 306 pounds — but now, he’ll be competing with athletes his size and bigger. He wants to play defensive tackle.
But he is determined and has found another purpose. His next goal is to start in college. After that, to play in the National Football League.
Despite his accomplishment Ifkovits tries to make sure football doesn’t dominate his whole life.
Q: When you are not practicing or playing football how do you spend your free time?
A: “I spend time with my girlfriend and my friends watching movies.”
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: “Hot wings from Tree Guys Pizza Pub in Itasca. They have 25 cent hot wings every Thursday.”
Q: What gets you angry?
A: “People that slack off (during football games and practice).”
Q: Cubs or Sox?
A: “White Sox”
Q: What’s your favorite football team?
A: “Minnesota Vikings. I get stuff (teased) for it all the time. I don’t care. My dad grew up watching the Minnesota Vikings.”
Q: If you couldn’t play football what other sport would you choose?
A: “Hockey, I loved to play hockey when I was a kid. My mom made me choose between hockey and football because it cost a lot of money for the equipment to play.”
Q: Whom do you admire?
A: “Ronnie Coleman, the bodybuilder for his hard work and dedication and Brian Cushing, linebacker for the Houston Texans. He’s crazy and really pumped. He’ll never back down from a challenge.”
Q: What will be your major in college?
A: “Exercise Science, I want to be a strength and conditioning coach.”