Kelly Weese // Staff writer
Originally a native of Oak Forest, Sulo decided to commute to Mount Carmel for high school. His dad was the head coach of football at the time, which influenced his prep school decision. While at Mount Carmel, Sulo attracted the attention of college coaches with his football abilities. He received an offer to play at North Central College where he would meet Chaps football head coach Matt Foster and assistant head coach Bill Wienke. During his true senior year at North Central, Sulo was forced to medical redshirt after breaking his hand. The injury was severe enough that it required surgery and ended his season. Due to NCAA rules, Sulo would require an internship to retain eligibility to play an extra season. He was hired at Northwestern, where he received an intern position focusing on exercise science for the athletic program. In 2010, Sulo was eligible for an extra year of eligibility while continuing his intern position. On the field, he played excellently, winning First Team All-CCIW and Academic All-CCIW awards. Shortly after, he graduated and was added as a graduate assistant for Northwestern. Although his strength and conditioning title was for football, he worked with the men’s soccer team and women’s swim team for more experience.
Now at COD, Sulo has worked up quite a resume. His relationship to coach Foster and coach Wienke back at North Central College has brought him back to DuPage County. Foster originally offered Sulo the defensive backs coaching job for the Chaps, but a conflict with his work schedule forced Sulo to decline. Although he turned down the offer, Sulo still wanted to help the Chaparral football program. Due to a law regarding the use of the facilities, the Chaps could only work out in the weight room if they were in a class taught by a qualified teacher. Thanks to his master’s degree in sports administration he received while assisting at Northwestern, Derek was hired as a faculty member to be the football team’s strength and conditioning coach. He teaches five classes in which Chaps football players are registered for. Sulo spends his mornings at COD, teaching class from seven to nine, Monday through Friday.
“We are in this to help kids out,” coach Sulo said. His mentality in the weight room is to prepare student-athletes not only for the field, but their life in the future. ”Setting a standard, giving them structure and discipline will help them if they move on to a four-year and continue to play sports, but also later on in life when they are starting to run a family and when they have jobs.”
Coach Sulo also wants the football team to act as one unit. Sulo quoted one of coach Foster’s sayings “have your guys’ six.” The saying is in reference to the Navy Seal motto of watching each other’s backs. He wants the players to make relationships with each other and build a bond that will last a lifetime. “If the guys get stronger, yeah they get stronger and they become better athletes overall, but it’s about being a team and having each other’s backs.”
Derek Sulo makes players think about life after football. “It’s not just about athletics, it’s about how can you impact someone’s life in the big picture.” He is one of the many faculty members at COD that are making differences in people’s lives.