Sloche: the ESPN of Illinois High School Sports

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Photo courtesy of Derrick Echols II

Derrick Echols II, creator of the Sloche Instagram page

After a highly anticipated OPRF sports game, you will see one Instagram account’s content reposted all over Instagram. Sloche, run by South Elgin High School alum Derrick Echols II, aims to cover the best teams and fan bases in Illinois high school sports.

Echols played basketball growing up but decided to quit as an upperclassman. “I realized I didn’t love it anymore,” says Echols. “But I knew I wanted to stay close to sports in some way shape or form.”

He began by filming his friends and his high school’s basketball games. “I was filming my friends who I felt like would be D1 players but weren’t getting the recognition,” he says. “It got to the point where it started growing to something that I never thought it would grow into.”

In 2019, when Echols prepared to leave for college at Mississippi State, he assembled a team of photographers and videographers to create content. 

One of them was current Naperville Central High School senior Braeden Schmidt, who met Echols during the 2019 basketball season. “I realized that there would be an opportunity for someone to keep filming for him up North while he was away at college,” says Schmidt. “If it hadn’t been for that year working for him, I would not be in the position I am in today.” 

For content, Echols doesn’t just look to post the highlights of the best teams. “We want the best games, the top teams, but we really like the games that have the most energy,” he says.

Some of these games include OPRF victories, such as the Oct. 26 boys soccer game against No. 1 New Trier when OPRF fans stormed the New Trier field after the victory. “It was super cool to have one of my videos posted on their Instagram,” says OPRF senior Reid Butterly, who attended the game. “Being in the crowd of that electric soccer game was a great feeling, and it was a super cool feeling knowing more than 60,000 people got to see what OPRF could do.” 

During the football season, Sloche posted a video of the cheerleading team having a staring contest with the York marching band. “I feel like Sloche is super popular with the student body because at OP we have a lot of school spirit when it comes to our sports,” says senior cheerleader Maeve Brown. “When I saw it, I was super excited to see that our cheer team was featured.”

More recently, Sloche made a post about the Dec. 3 basketball game between OPRF and Fenwick. OPRF students packed the UIC Pavillion in Chicago and watched the Huskies win 66-52. “You guys (OPRF students) have a great overall fanbase,” says Echols.

When Sloche covers games, they emphasize the time in which they get news, videos, and other content out. “Speed is key in the world of highlights. To get the best post interactions, you need to be the first one with the content out,” says Schmidt. 

This means Echols posts non-stop, something that he’s called a lifestyle. “I haven’t really missed posting in almost three years,” he says. “I’m working Monday through Sunday 24/7.”

While most students see Sloche’s content on Instagram, the company also has a large presence on YouTube and TikTok where they have over 25,000 and 100,000 followers respectively. Whichever platform he is posting on, Echols’s vision for his company is constantly changing.

 “It feels like the goal of Sloche fluctuates literally every 24 hours,” Echols says.  “Now it seems like it’s become the Illinois or Midwest hub of sports news.”

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