USA Judo

The Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club in Oak Lawn, IL (a suburb of Chicago) was established in 1981 by Sensei Mike DeVito, who was also running a club at the Palos Park, IL Park District. After many, many years teaching judo and karate he decided it was time to retire and asked one of his long-time students to take over the club for him. In 2004, Sensei Glenn Rusco was given responsibility of the Oak Lawn Judo Club. 

Sensei Glenn has worked very hard over the years establishing and marketing a new brand and club logo to re-energize the club and start to develop it from a typical Park District program into a competitive judo team. He became a certified USA Judo coach and registered the club with USA Judo.

Having a judo club within a Park District is a unique situation, but has many advantages. The club has both area residents looking to try out a new sport and a growing number of competitive players looking to compete regionally and nationally. The club runs four ten-week sessions throughout the year and hosts an interclub tournament at the end of each session. These tournaments are run identical to USA Judo sanctioned tournaments so that students wanting to move over to the competitive team can experience real world judo. The club averages 70 to 85 students per session consistently throughout the year. They also host regular team events like marching in Oak Lawn’s Independence day parade, hosting a Breakfast with Santa and participating in other Park District events. The club leads Judo demonstrations at these Park District events, at local elementary and middle school events and every summer at a local minor league baseball game (Windy City Thunderbolts).

For the past few years the Oak Lawn Park District Judo competition team has grown, regularly bringing an average of 12 players to each local tournament. Regionally they are competitive with many State Champions and State medalist in their home state and surrounding Midwest states. Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club have had a few competitors going to Nationals and one National Champion (so far!). Every year they travel farther away to attend tournaments in other states hoping to continue building a solid team.

 

Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club is instructed by three dedicated instructors: Sensei’s’ Kevin, Glenn and Karl.

Head Instructor: Sensei Glenn Rusco

Sensei Glenn started playing judo in 1978 at the age of 10 at the Palos Park (IL) Park District club run by Sensei DeVito. He competed for many years and also trained at many local clubs with great instructors like Rich Moser (Palos), Bob Corwin (Yorkville Judo) and Drew Wickham (South Suburban Judo). Once achieving his Black Belt Sensei Glenn continued the tradition of Park District programs, by starting clubs for the Park Districts of Hickory Hills, IL in 1986 and Lockport, Il in 2000. He played for the Purdue University Judo club from 1987 to 1989, while earning his degree in Exercise Physiology. Glenn took over the Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club in 2004. He continues to work with the Park District, the team, the coaching staff and the Parent’s club to develop, educate and spread the word of judo throughout the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Recently his hard work paid off as he was honored in June of 2016 as USA Judo’s National Coach of the Month!

 

Instructor: Sensei Karl Graff

Sensei Karl started playing judo in 1973 at Southern Illinois University and quickly became the assistant instructor and adjunct club manager through 1976 under Sensei Dennis Helm.  After graduating with a degree in Zoology and Wildlife Biology, Karl Joined Sensei DeVito at Palos Park Judo Club while also training under Sensei Henry Okamura at the Irving Park YMCA in Chicago. Karl joined the Chicago Fire Department and received his Shodan in the same month, October 1980. He continued his judo training and was an instructor with Sensei John Dillon at Lyons Township (IL) High School from 1984 to 1994. As a Chicago Fireman, Karl competed in the World Police and Fire Games and won Bronze in 1989-Vancouver, BC, Canada; Silver in 1991-Memphis; Silver in 1993-Colorado Springs and Bronze in 2001- Indianapolis. Sensei Karl then joined forces with his club teammate Sensei Glenn Rusco at Lockport(IL) Judo Club in 2000. Karl has remained with Glenn, together rebuilding and developing Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club. On a side note, Karl recently retired after 36 years serving Chicago as a proud Chicago Fireman!!

 

Instructor: Sensei Kevin Pittman

Kevin Pittman has been a part of the Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club coaching staff since 2012.  Kevin began judo in college and shortly after starting, began competing in tournaments throughout the Midwest.  His love for judo had him training up to 5 days a week at multiple clubs in the Chicagoland area and he also became an assistant instructor where he first learned judo, Harper College in the 1990’s.  At the start of the 2000’s, he took a hiatus to begin his career as a nurse and start a family.  In 2012, his son took an interest in judo after watching Kayla win the gold and both Kevin and his son joined Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club.  Since his return, Sensei Kevin has been very active in the judo community.  While continuing to instruct, he keeps memberships at multiple Chicago area clubs and continues to practice. Kevin is a IBSA and nationally certified referee and coach with USA Judo.

Oak Lawn Park District Judo Club is committed to spreading the word of judo and involving as many students as we can in learning, competing and growing as judoka!! We are very active on social media and can be contacted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.