Life Skills Specialist to Meet with Illini Gridders

Coach Ron Zook will have his player learning some non-football skills this weekend.
Coach Ron Zook will have his player learning some non-football skills this weekend.

Aug. 24, 2005

AUDIO - Post-practice with Head Coach Ron Zook

This Friday and Saturday, the Illinois football team will be treated to a two-a-day session, however this time the subject won't be football. Donna Williams, a member of an organization called Team Focus, will be in town to teach the team a different kind of lesson -- life lessons.

Team Focus was founded by former collegiate head coach and current ESPN analyst, Mike Gottfried, as an organization used to mentor young men who are looking for leadership qualities. Through Team Focus, men are taught a variety of life principles such as tying a tie, taking better notes, balancing a checkbook, handling peer pressure, using good manners and respecting women.

"This seminar has nothing to do with football. It's about how you handle yourself," Coach Ron Zook said, "how you treat people. I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. We're going to get our money's worth. She's going to cover everything from silverware to table manners. I'm concerned about how you act and how people perceive you. She has been around and spoken to other teams. When you recruit guys you want them to be the best football players they can be, but you also want them to be the best person they can be. If you can help them become better citizens and a better person, it's great for the university and the Illini Nation."

Wednesday's practice saw the squad take to the field after their first day in the classroom in shoulder pads and shorts. They concentrated on both individual and team work as well as a small portion of the Rutgers game plan. After the two-hour session, Zook met with the media.

...on today's practice;
"I think any time it is the first day of school, there are a lot of things going on, but for the most part, they tried to concentrate. Once again, we are demanding perfection. It wasn't perfect, but I don't know if many of them ever are perfect. You still have to demand it."

...on yesterday's scrimmage:
"(I saw) improvement. Once again we are right on schedule. We need to continue to keep working and to continue to grind. We'll give them Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. They'll have some time to get away from it. That's what I'll tell them to do, `get away from it.'"

...on how much of today's practice was Rutgers preparation:
"We had two periods of Rutgers to get everyone acclimated. We switched off groups and it was competitive. We did some nine-on-seven to get them acclimated to what it's going to be like next week."