Lisle, Illinois ~ For Lane Tech College Prep basketball coach and Benedictine alumnus Nick LoGalbo, putting an end to Chicago’s epidemic of gun violence is a personal endeavor.
Two years ago, his cousin narrowly survived a gunshot to the head after leaving a Halloween party in Irving Park. The following year, a former Lane Tech basketball player was shot and killed outside of his house.
This year, more than 3,000 people have been shot and the city has reported more than 500 homicides — exceeding the same statistics for New York and Los Angeles combined, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“I was actually shot at myself in a drive-by when I was 16 years old playing basketball at a park by my house,” LoGalbo said. “No one was hit, but I remember the anger I felt. I was not doing anything wrong and my life was in jeopardy.
“Gun violence in our city has to stop, and I just hope I can be part of some change.”
Shortly after his cousin was shot, he joined forces with former Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah and the Noah’s Arc Foundation to help promote the #chicagostandup campaign against gun violence. LoGalbo organized two rallies which were attended by hundreds at Lane Tech. Earlier this year, he and other victims of gun violence were invited to “The Steve Harvey Show” for a town hall episode discussing gun violence.
His anti-violence efforts also led him to join a consortium of inner-city coaches called Coaches United Against Violence, which hosts tournaments and anti-violence training sessions, presentations, team-building exercises and violence prevention workshops for players and their families.
“Our major accomplishment thus far has been putting on this leadership seminar for all basketball players in the Chicago Public League,” LoGalbo said. “We had roughly 400 students go through our seminar, and I was actually able to reach out to Duke University (and U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball) coach Mike Krzyzewski, who put a video message together empowering the young men and women in attendance to stand up to the violence. It was very powerful, and there is more to come.”
After graduating from Benedictine in 2005, LoGalbo became an English teacher at Lane Tech and eventually took on the position of head men’s basketball coach. He is also a 3x3 regional coordinator for USA Basketball. In each role, he strives to help teens grow and develop into strong adults.
“I felt teaching English literature would give me the best opportunity to form authentic relationships and empower students to go after their dreams,” LoGalbo said. “I did not become an English major solely for my love of literature. I saw the design a bit backwards — as a Secondary Education major and a minor in English Literature with a true purpose for educating and impacting lives.”
In January 2014, he was named WGN’s Teacher of the Month after a student nominated him for the recognition. In 2016, Benedictine presented LoGalbo with the Who’s Who Rising Star award for his professional accomplishments.
LoGalbo said he cultivated his style of teaching while a student-athlete at Benedictine.
“I took so many lessons away with me from my time at Benedictine, but probably the most important lesson was what it truly means to be an adult and how to work in a professional setting,” LoGalbo said. “Benedictine has genuine people in leadership positions who form authentic relationships with students, which empowers students to do more and instills a high level of confidence within them.
“I remember feeling like people genuinely cared about me and my future,” LoGalbo added. “That is what I loved about Benedictine: the community and the people who look out for one another. My professors knew me, and they knew my story and what I was about. That really makes a difference.”
He continues to impart the same sense of community and encouragement he felt at Benedictine onto his students and has found basketball to be an especially effective outlet for reaching Chicago teens.
“We need to find ways to connect people instead of dividing them,” LoGalbo said. “For me, and so many more people, basketball is a way to connect. For some of these kids, it may be basketball that creates an opportunity to learn about more than the four blocks around their homes and keeps them from making poor decisions. While I do not think it is the only answer, in our case it is a great asset.”
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.