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Ottawa senior Tyler Skolek (seated, center) committed to play football at North Central College. Also at the signing were his parents Debbie (seated left) and Brian (seated right) as well as Ottawa football coach Trent Swords (standing). NewsTribune photo/Kevin Chlum
When looking for a college, location played a big role for Ottawa senior Tyler Skolek.
North Central College in Naperville fit the setting he sought, so the Pirate middle linebacker recently committed to play football for the Division III program.
“My main interest in it was the location and how it’s right in downtown Naperville,” Skolek said. “I like that a lot.”
He also liked the quality of the Cardinal program, which went 9-3 last season and shared College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin championship — the program’s seventh consecutive conference crown.
“Their football program was No. 7 in Division III (at one point last season). That was a key factor,” Skolek said. “I wanted to go into something that was going to be good.”
Academics also was a key factor in Skolek’s decision. He plans to double major in sports management and marketing.
“I liked how they actually thought about my education,” said Skolek, who also considered Benedictine University and Augustana College. “I met with a professor and he talked with me about what I’d be doing for school and how they can help me.”
As a senior, Skolek helped the Pirates to an 11-1 record and the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division championship.
The all-conference and NewsTribune All-Area pick led the team in tackles.
“I think he’ll do great,” Ottawa coach Trent Swords said. “He’s going to a great place. I’m real familiar with them and that conference. Since coach (John) Thorne has gotten there, he has turned the program around and they are a perennial power.
“It’s going to be a challenge for him. He’s not walking into a situation where they need him right away. He’s going to have to work hard and put the time and commitment into the weight room and studying film, and he will. … I can see him getting on the field as a sophomore or junior and being a contributor to a national powerhouse.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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