Academy's plans include 6 sports at Rantoul facility

RANTOUL — Midwest Prep Academy officials have a plan.

A plan to expand.

The academy, which will hold its fourth football camp in Rantoul this summer and fall after operating the first three years in suburban Chicago, eventually wants to offer six sports, President Marques Sullivan told those attending a chamber of commerce-sponsored Lunch and Learn.

Academy officials announced recently the academy will begin offering men’s basketball in 2018. Other future offerings include lacrosse, women’s softball and basketball and men’s baseball.

“We want to be able to run year round,” Business Manager Mark Wirth said.

The academy’s seven- to 10-year plan also includes opening prep academies in Ohio and Texas.

“The high school programs in Ohio, when we went on a recruiting trip — unbelievable,” Wirth said. “Their high school stadiums look like university stadiums. I’ve never seen anything like it. Twenty-thousand people in there. And they’re packed on Friday night.”

Same thing with Texas, where everything is bigger.

The academy, which has won 23 of its 30 games during the first three years of its existence, heretofore has played all of its games on the road. This year, however, MPA will play two of its 10 games at home, at Rantoul Township High School.

Asked if the academy hopes to develop its own field, Sullivan said MPA would one day like to do that.

“That’s a discussion we’ve been having (with village of Rantoul officials),” said Sullivan, a former University of Illinois offensive lineman who played five years in the National Football League. “We have to prove ourselves first. We’ve got to make sure the village understands we’re serious.”

The academy will have 50 players on this year’s roster and doesn’t really want more than that so all of the young men have a chance to play this season in the hopes of securing a college scholarship to play football.

This summer, the athletes report for a four-week strength-and-conditioning program July 9. They then take a nine-day break while the Half Century of Farm of Progress show is in town. After two weeks of preseason practice, the academy’s season starts.

The academy seeks to develop the young men in both the classroom (to be ready to take the ACT test in preparation for college) and on the field.

Wirth said the vast majority of MPA’s athletes have been offered scholarships. One player received six offers. Games are played on Sundays to enable college coaches to scout the players.

“We have a tremendous coaching staff in place to help these young people learn together and a terrific strength-and-conditioning coach,” Sullivan said.

“Rantoul is an excellent spot for us. Before, we were in the Chicago area. Too many distractions up there. Too much to do for these young people. As we know, these young people can get distracted.”

Sullivan showed a map with Rantoul in the middle with nine to 10 Division I universities and many more smaller colleges and universities within a two-hour driving distance.

Wirth said Sullivan has connections with more than 600 colleges and universities.

“There are all kinds of schools that welcome us,” Wirth said.

Sullivan and Wirth, who spoke to those attending at the academy’s new offices on Enterprise Drive near the site of the former University of Illinois’ Camp Rantoul, also took the visitors on a bus ride to the locker room facility.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com






















 

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