Over the course of her career, Ali Andrzejewski has recorded major accomplishments in the same way she's recorded goals: with incredible consistency. A former member of the under-21 US national team, Ali has played alongside some of the sport's biggest names and sprinted across pitches in 15 different countries. For the past decade, Ali has shared her soccer savvy stateside as the head coach at Champions Soccer Training. There, she works with players of all ages through private, semiprivate, and team training. She and the Champions staff also offer seasonal opportunities to keep players conditioned, including winter programs and summer camps.
In the world of athletic training, Robert Taylor, Jr.’s resume speaks for itself. In addition to stints as the head strength and conditioning coach for two NCAA Division I programs, his expertise also landed him gigs with professional baseball, football, and basketball franchises. Now, along with the other experienced coaches at SMARTER Team Training, Robert shepherds high school athletes toward their full potential at training camps and clinics. Whether they’re honing position-specific skills for football, basketball, field hockey, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, or other sports, or increasing overall athleticism during the school’s signature Speed, Agility, and Conditioning Camp, students always find a challenging itinerary designed to bring skills to a more advanced level. There's even a college prep training program, which gets high school players ready for the increased intensity at the college level.
The 88’x184’ Mateflex court inside Benfield Sportscenter is a shape-shifter. One day, it might be a full-size soccer field ready for child or adult leagues. The next, it could be a baseball, field hockey, or lacrosse field. Or maybe it'll be split into several different volleyball and basketball courts, with one corner cordoned off for competitive I-spy tournaments. Whatever the sport, Benfield's staff can set up the indoor arena to meet the athletes' needs. Away from the arena, Benfield Sportscenter encompasses a 1,400-square-foot training area with exercise equipment, as well as a lobby with WiFi and a snack bar.
In addition to open sessions and leagues, the staff teaches a carefully designed child-development program for ages 3 to 5. The curriculum starts with a multi-sport class, then moves on to a tri-sport class, before finally placing kids in single-sport sessions. This encourages children to find their ideal sport, whether it's basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, or lacrosse.
Justin Smith's athletic resume is pretty impresive. He's a three-time NCAA champion, and recipient of 2005's Division III player of the year award. He's a Major League Lacrosse player for the New York Lizards, Chesapeake Bayhawks, and Philadelphia Barrage, with whom he won two world championships. While all these achievements summarize Justin Smith's lacrosse career, they leave out one of the most important parts: teacher. During private and semi-private sessions at Annapolis Lacrosse Lessons, Justin draws on his pro skills to nurture the sport's budding talents. Through a series of intensive drills, he helps students refine their stickwork, master dodging defense, and boost their speed with a host of teaching methods, including using a radar gun or having students study tapes of old road-runner cartoons.
Spanning 18,000 square feet of turf-covered courts and batting cages, Raider's Edge hones bat-swinging skills with practice areas and instruction for individuals and groups. Baseball- and softball-pitching machines spit endless volleys of spheres, their speeds adjustable to accommodate both little leaguers and six-armed spider-men. The two spacious turf courts can also accommodate practice for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey, and dual pitching lanes allow pitchers to perfect their craft side by side. Weekly exercise and softball practice programs focus on skills such as hitting, fielding, and pitching, and young players put their skills into practice as part of Raider’s Edge’s Red Raider softball teams.
They’re a common food in several Latin countries, including Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, but empanadas are made a bit differently in Argentina. “We have an edge because we actually bake them,” Nicolás Ibarzabal, co-owner of 5411, told the Decider in 2009. ”Here in Chicago there are a couple of places that offer empanadas, but they’re pretty much all deep-fried. We like to think of ourselves as the new healthy frontier of empanadas.”
Along with pals and fellow Buenos Aires natives Mariano Lanfranconi and Andrés Arlia, Ibarzabal makes the flaky baked treats in nearly a dozen varieties. You’ll find traditional hand-cut beef empanadas as well as Americanized versions including barbecue chicken, which Ibarzabal admits is one of his favorites despite chuckles from his Argentine friends. The trio started 5411—a mash-up of Argentina’s country code, 54, and Buenos Aires’s city code, 11—in 2009 as a catering company before rolling out a food truck and finally opening a shop in Lakeview. That shop makes deliveries by the dozen, and the same pale-blue food truck—perhaps the catalyst for 5411’s success—still takes to the streets daily, urging office dwellers to emerge from their cubicles and horses to escape from their buggies.