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Raridon family ties North Central College basketball together from court, stands

first_imgOn Saturday nights in Naperville, Ill., Julie Raridon can be found seated in an upper section of Gregory Arena, opposite the North Central College team bench. She’s there to watch the Cardinals, the country’s No. 5 Division-III basketball team. But more importantly, she’s there to watch her family.Her husband Todd Raridon is the Cardinals’ (14-1) head coach. Further down the bench is her eldest son, Mitch, a former Cardinal and current assistant coach. On the court, No. 34 is Derek Raridon, Julie’s middle son.“I like that I get a chance to have my mom and my dad see me play every game,” Derek said. “… I stayed close to home and it’s given me a chance to play for my dad and my brother. At every game my entire family is there, so they’ve enjoyed the success that the team has had as well.”In eight of Todd Raridon’s nine years at North Central, he’s had one of his sons on the roster or the staff.The Raridons’ lives revolve around basketball, and since Todd took the head-coaching job in 2004, they’ve become the first family of North Central hoops.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWithout basketball, this Raridon family might have never started.Todd and Julie met at one of Julie’s brother’s high school basketball games. While Julie doesn’t live and die with basketball, she enjoys the games and is always there to support her husband and sons.Mitch Raridon came to North Central in Todd’s second year as head coach, and helped implement his father’s read-and-react offense and team defense. After all, they are the only strategies he’s ever known, and the ones he’s teaching now as an assistant.“It was a good experience growing up around basketball,” Mitch said. “… Athletics is a lot about life. You learn how to work in a team setting with people from a lot of different backgrounds and you’ve got to jell together for one goal. That was very unique and inspiring growing up to be around that all the time.”North Central’s philosophies are the same ones with which the Raridon boys grew up. At one point, all were either ball boys or managers for their father, until hours in the gym and around his players deepened their passion for the near-lifelong family game.Julie recalls the countless Nerf mini-hoops the family has bought and the sons have destroyed.She works at Tricoci University, a cosmetology school in Chicago where most people she works with are women who know little about sports, let alone basketball.“People tease me at my job,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Where are you going?’ and I’ll say, ‘Where do I always go? I’m going to a gym.’”Julie recalls scuffles between the boys, as well as the continuous games that led to the destruction of those Nerf hoops.“It has always been a part … it was never like we forced any basketball issues on them. It’s just funny that they took to it,” she said. “That was never something that we felt would complete our lives that they had to play basketball. They’re the ones that really had the fever for it.”North Central senior Derek Raridon routinely won those Nerf basketball contests, angering his two brothers and giving birth to an ongoing family joke.“Derek is going to nail you on those little Nerf hoops,” Julie said.She recalled one day in the kitchen when Derek joked that if he came to North Central, his dad would need to “design an offense where I can get a lot of shots off.”As a freshman, Derek ranked second in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin in points per game (21.3), fourth in the conference in 3-point percentage (.430) and sixth in rebounds per game (5.6). As a senior, he is the team’s second-leading scorer.Mom can shoot, too. In elementary school, she won a school-wide Elks Hoop Shoot free-throw contest. Todd won at his school.“We tease the boys that, ‘Yeah, we were both free-throw champions,’” Julie said. “But our boys are pretty good at free throws so we could never tease them too much.”Basketball is a family bond – one that’s turned North Central into one of the better Division-III basketball teams in the last decade with at least one of the Raridons always working the bench, if not the floor.“Any success we’ve had is because we’ve had good kids, there’s no secret there,” Todd said. “You ask any coach, usually we’re a lot better coaches when we have better players … and a great staff.”In a few years, Todd may have his youngest son Connor join the team. And if his brothers are to be believed, he will add the most to the Raridon legacy at North Central. Comments Published on January 16, 2013 at 12:20 am Contact Josh: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more