When Director Tony Youhanna and George Solomos founded Little Legends Soccer Academy in 2009, they found themselves filling a niche. At the time, the North Shore offered no quality soccer coaching for youngsters interested in the game. Their first session was a success, drawing thirty eager players, but it didn't prepare them for the popularity that was to come. Since that day, the academy has ballooned: more than 300 children ages 24 months to 8 years old are currently enrolled in its various programs.
Each clinic helps kids build soccer fundamentals such as foot skills, passing, and receiving in an environment that encourages fun and teamwork. Very young players—24 to 36 months—start off in the Born to Kick program, which couples soccer skills with mind-nurturing topics such as shapes, colors, and vocabulary. As children get older and their skills progress, they move into clinics aimed at more advanced techniques, eventually putting them to work in games.
The award-winning instructors and international champions at Krav Maga Illinois impart their discipline's techniques and secrets to novices and experienced students alike. First developed by Imi Lichtenfeld for Israeli defense forces and based on natural responses, krav maga has since swept the fitness and self-defense worlds as an effective, challenging martial art with one rule - get home safe. The Krav Maga Illinois schedule offers more than 50 classes a week for kids aged 8 to 12, adults aged 13 and up, and kids who disguise themselves as adults beneath long trench coats. In addition, Chicagoland police teach classes intended specifically for members of law enforcement and the military. Though the studio specializes in the self-defense technique, other classes include boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, strength and conditioning, and Kali.
The word “KAPAP” is derived from the Hebrew acronym for fearsome, face-to-face combat. Operating under the umbrella of the international KAPAP Academies, Kapap Combative Concepts helps mold students in the skills of modern, real-world combat. A staff of veteran instructors trains up-and-coming MMA fighters alongside first-time students learning self-defense techniques. The gym’s core KAPAP class teaches practical fighting skills similar to krav maga, infused with elements of boxing, judo, and Japanese slappy-hands. Instructors also teach submission grappling, muay thai, and kickboxing skills, and lead dedicated sessions in women’s self-defense. The gym’s combat-fitness classes help build better bodies through a rigorous, boot-camp-style environment that works indoors and outdoors while challenging strength, endurance, and flexibility.
Like a massive white bubble hovering over the earth, the domed roof of the Highland Park Field House covers 52,000 square feet of field turf that hosts soccer games, lacrosse drills, and golf strokes. The facility is a privately funded not-for-profit aimed at serving local high schools and other organizations who can use the space for recreational leagues and practice.
Open soccer pickup games occur two nights a week, and the field transforms into an indoor golf range on weekdays. Whether it’s used for instructional lessons or invisible boomerang throwing practice, the range gives a place for sports enthusiasts to practice year-round regardless of the weather outside.
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In 1909, the Park District of Highland Park managed a 2.5-square mile parcel of land. Over time, it grew to encompass a variety of natural oases in the suburbs of Chicago, including 600 acres of shoreline, forests, and recreational facilities. Community members can walk down wooded paths or sail off a Lake Michigan boat launch ramp in the summer. Year round, an indoor ice arena and indoor tennis and racquetball courts give people a chance to workout in a social setting. A variety of regular classes also challenge bodies and minds with martial arts, dance, ceramics, and soccer.