The process has begun, but it takes time.
Nick Kukuc remembers his arrival at East Aurora four years ago for his first teaching job in the school’s physical education department.
The Naperville Central product had set multiple records in rushing and total yards in a four-year career as a running back at North Central College. It was only natural he volunteer upon being introduced to Tomcats coach Kurt Becker.
“I was put in charge of the weight room,” Kukuc said.
It’s a position he still holds as he prepares for his second season as offensive coordinator.
The culture was different from what the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Kukuc had experienced with the Redhawks in high school under Mike Stine and in college under former NCC coach John Thorne. Both programs have a history of success.
“In college, when the coach says something you know what he means and you just go do it,” Kukuc said. “In high school, you’re learning what he means.”
At East Aurora, Kukuc found himself closer to Square 1, even if the staff was preaching the “bigger, faster, stronger” mantra that is universal among coaches.
“I had probably one kid who was a regular in the room at the start,” Kukuc said.
Equipment has since been bolstered by a donation that Becker, a former Bear, helped secure from his former NFL team. And the numbers are up.
“We’re now at a solid 50 kids,” Kukuc said. “I take a lot of pride in that aspect. We’ve really established the culture in the weight room and we have a lot more kids who understand the importance it has in football.
“Kurt’s main goal has been to build a foundation. I feel like he’s created that and the kids are buying in.”
One of those kids is senior quarterback Ziare Williams.
“It was a surprise to me, too,” Williams said. “Freshman year, I wasn’t even in there. I didn’t know about it, but then I got into it. Now, it’s become packed.”
Monday morning, Williams and his teammates will experience the next step. The Tomcats will take to the turf surface for their first practice at their brand spanking new stadium that’s been under construction since last fall.
The new Roy E. Davis Field replaces the stadium that was torn down last summer and was originally built in 1921.
Workers are putting the finishing touches on the facility and some of its amenities, but the field is ready for use.
Players at the lower levels will practice on the adjacent grass fields.
“Our seniors get to see that all that work has…