Athan and Dino Kaliakmanis share a few things, including a last name and a college destination.
But the Antioch brothers, both seniors bound for Minnesota, are very different in their approaches to life.
“My brother is very outgoing,” said Dino, a wide receiver. “He’s very energetic, He loves to bring a light into the room.
“I’m not outgoing. I’m very quiet.”
“They’re polar opposites, personality-wise,” Anrioch coach Brian Glashagel said. “Dino is quiet, he’s just non-stop 100 mph in every drill. Doesn’t say a word, leads by example. You don’t have to tell Dino to run hard.”
Athan, a quarterback, doesn’t need to be pushed either. The transformation of his body since his junior season — which ended prematurely with a broken collarbone — is proof of that.
“I put on 30 pounds since the last time I played football,” Athan said before the Sequoits opened their season with a win over Grayslake Central. “It’s not fat,
“I worked so hard, harder than I ever have worked to leave Antioch the best I’ll be.”
He has no doubt his brother will do the same.
“What happens in the dark shines in the light,” Athan said. “Dino is a different animal this year. He’s a different player this year.”
Having one more high school season before going off to play in the Big Ten puts a capper on the Kaliakmanis brothers’ unusual journey.
“The guys on my team, I literally grew up with,” Athan said, “I’ve known them since kindergarten.”
But he and his brother weren’t always teammates with the current Sequoits; they played as freshmen at Carmel before transferring back home.
Glashagel knew about them for years. Like other high school coaches, he hears about up-and-comers all the time. Some pan out in high school, some don’t.
“I was always trying to get out to see a couple of youth games,” Glashagel said.
But then one day, he got some interesting news from Andy Bitto, then the Carmel coach and now an assistant at Antioch: the Kaliakmanis brothers were coming home.
Glashagel knew he had something special when college coaches were coming to Antioch to watch their new quarterback, who wasn’t even a high school sophomore yet.
That was then. It’s even better now.
“When he throws the ball in the gym, it’s humming,” Glashagel said.
Now Athan is throwing to Dino in real games for the first time since the fall of 2019, and to them, it feels like a fitting way to wrap up this chapter of their lives.
“I never thought I was going to have this opportunity again.” Athan said. “Even though I’m going to play college football, I’m lucky to play high school football.”
Especially with this group.
“This is probably the best team Antioch has ever had,” Athan said,
“If it wasn’t for COVID, who knows what would have happened?” Dino said. “These past 16 months … have had a lot of ups and downs.”
But now the Sequoits finally are back playing, and the arrow is definitely pointing up.