Mike North stays in the game

Mike North’s last appearance on Chicago’s airwaves came during WBBM-TV’s ill-fated show, “Monsters in the Morning.”

But North (pictured, right) doesn’t go away so easily. The former hot dog vendor was a major personality behind the growth of The Score, the sports talk radio station celebrating its 20th anniversary this month. Now North has a found a new venue for his opinions at NorthToNorth.com. He started the website 1 1/2 years ago. North’s recent videos include his comments about topics such as Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Muhammad Ali’s birthday and even Playboy’s decision to leave Chicago. North also has a webcast home at FoxSports Radio on the weekend shifts and can be heard three times a week at WIND-AM 560.

While North’s focus is on professional sports, high school sports has never been far from his thoughts. During his shows, North regularly talks about his days as a failed student at Senn. He champions Maine South’s football program since his nephew, Brian, formerly played for the Hawks. North lives in Park Ridge.

But North’s love of 16-inch softball inspired the talk show host to bring the sport to the Chicago Public League on a competitive level several years ago. He helped develop the program with the support of administrators such as Paul Vallas and J.W. Smith and 16-inch continues to thrive to this day. This winter, North is in his fifth season as an assistant basketball coach under Tom Les at Notre Dame.

“I’m not an X’s and O’s guy,” North said. “I know the game. What I do when I’m with a kid is what I think every coach does; I look out for the kid. My main job is to make the game fun.”

So when North created NorthToNorth.com, he made sure his site included preps sports coverage.

“High school athletics is one of the most important ways to get kids interested in sports,” North said. “That’s where they get it, or doesn’t.”

His site features the HS Game of the Week Blog and dozens of videos featuring area high school athletes. North hired former Pioneer Press sports editor Rob Valentin (pictured, right) to write the blog and take video. Valentin blogged about Bolingbrook’s victory over Niles West Monday in girls basketball’s McDonald’s Shootout in Villa Park. Valentin covered Notre Dame basketball games over the years and got to know North.

Valentin’s video footage features players only. He avoids taking video of coaches.

“I do not necessarily go to the bigger Game of the Week,” Valentin said. “I try to get to different schools and not go to the same schools all the time.”

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Rob Valentin’s Monday interview from the McDonald’s Shootout.

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