Jandak family donates special gift to RTHS athletics

The Rochelle Township High School weight room bell, recently donated by the Jandak family, will be given in an effort to motivate student-athletes and remind them of the athletic program’s long-standing football tradition. Above from left to right are Bill, William, Charlie and Jeanie Jandak. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Weight room bell given to help student-athletes continue tradition

The Rochelle Township High School football program has a long-standing tradition where Hub players ring the bell at the north end of the field after every home win to celebrate their victory with the community. RTHS standouts William and Charlie Jandak took part in this tradition many times during their high school football careers, and through the generosity of their family, that tradition will be carried over from the gridiron to the weight room.

While schools remain closed due to the coronavirus, student-athletes will see something rather unique when they return to the RTHS weight room. Whether they’re setting new personal records or accomplishing their fitness goals, student-athletes will have the opportunity to ring the high school’s new weight room bell, which the Jandak family donated in an effort to give back to the programs that helped William and Charlie become the men they are today.

“I think RTHS shaped them in a lot of ways,” said mother Jeanie Jandak. “It’s nice when we lay down core values as parents and we see those values reinforced at school. RTHS has really helped shape their character. I’ve seen them become more confident, especially in sports, and they learned to support other people. They learned good sportsmanship and they became more well-rounded individuals. RTHS has been like a family for us and we wanted to give back.”

“Jeanie and I are so proud of the boys for their academic and athletic accomplishments, and we know they couldn’t have done that without the support of their coaches and teachers,” father Bill Jandak added. “I thought the bell was a great idea and I think it can help student-athletes set new personal goals for themselves… The teachers here have been great in preparing the boys and the coaches have really pushed them. It’s important that we give something back.”

The idea for the bell, which features the Hub logo and the word “FINISH” displayed boldly on the front of its face, originated from William and Charlie, who recently completed their four-year high school careers under head coach Kyle Kissack. William, currently a freshman at North Central College, was a two-time All-Conference First Team offensive tackle at RTHS before helping the Cardinals take home the NCAA Division III National Championship this past season.

“We knew we wanted to give back to the high school because of what RTHS has done for us,” William said. “We liked the idea of the bell because our tradition after winning home games was always to ring the bell, so we thought bringing that into the weight room would motivate the student-athletes… We had a great brotherhood at RTHS and that family tradition was a major reason why I chose North Central College. I learned a lot of life lessons here.”

Charlie, who will be continuing his academics and his football career at Washington University in St. Louis this fall, also earned All-Conference First Team recognition twice during his time at RTHS. William and Charlie helped guide the Rochelle football team to the IHSA 4A State Quarterfinals in 2017, and later that school year, they were members of the Rochelle wrestling team that brought home a fourth-place trophy from the IHSA 2A Dual State Championship.

“It may seem small, but as football players at RTHS, the bell symbolizes a sense of completion,” Charlie said. “It’s everything to us, and we thought that if we could bring that symbol into the weight room and motivate the student-athletes to push themselves a little harder, it would mean a lot. The word ‘finish’ means pushing all the way through, whether it’s in the classroom, in the weight room or on the football field. We learned that the closer the team is, the better chance the team has of winning, and that’s what we really pushed for at RTHS.”

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