Illinois high school sports media company ‘Sloche’ gains popularity

South Elgin graduate celebrates five year anniversary of Instagram account


Sydney Wolf, Sports Editor

With a dream to give the athletes of South Elgin the recognition and exposure they deserved, South Elgin graduate Derrick Echols II began an Instagram account fulfilling exactly that. However, that same Instagram account named Sloche–the founder’s last name spelled backwards–is now so much more. The account has since gained a following of more than 98,000 people, and has transformed into a media company that covers high school sports all across Illinois. 

“I started the company alone,” Echols said. “But I’ve been blessed to have a nice little team of videographers and photographers to help me out now. Being in college keeps me away from Illinois physically, but my team has helped me so much by taking care of the things that I can’t.”

Echols became self-employed in 2017 when Sloche was created with no intention to be more than just an Instagram and YouTube account, according to Echols. It didn’t gain much popularity until his senior year of high school. Echols played on his high school basketball team until his junior year. Soon after leaving the sport, an idea sparked. On the team, he was given the opportunity to play with many talented athletes that he believed were underrated and needed help getting recognized by college scouts.

“Once I quit basketball, I knew that I could potentially help these athletes by simply filming their games,” Echols said. “My intentions were to give athletes in my area exposure for recruitment purposes.”

Along with helping out the athletes of his home town, Echols had the idea to expand his support by hosting events at a local park to encourage kids to get outside. Eventually claiming the name “park takeovers,” these events that began mid-summer of 2020 after COVID-19 restrictions loosened up, were held for the community to get together and play basketball with each other. 

“Park takeovers are primarily focused on giving the community a chance to get out of the house and experience a good time with some of the top influencers on social media,” Echols said. “We work alongside district representatives and law enforcement to provide an entertaining and safe environment for people of all demographics.”

However, he was not planning these events on his own. LT alumnus Albert Ferastrau ‘19, had been and continues to play a major role in planning the takeovers and being a part of the company. Ferastrau met Echols their senior year of high school while filming a basketball playoff game for LT against Geneva. At the time, Ferastrau was helping run the “LT Weirdos” student section account and shooting sporting events for them.

“Working with Derrick got me into shooting basketball more,” Ferastrau said. “And shooting for him when I was younger connected me with a lot of people, many of which are some of my good friends and peers in the basketball community.”

Ferastrau doesn’t work with Echols and the company as much anymore, considering the distance between their current schools, Ferastrau at Northwestern and Echols at Mississippi State. Though, the two continue to stay in touch when planning park takeovers and are accomplishing many things on their own that Sloche has helped lead them to achieve.

“Honestly, working for the Chicago Bulls, University of Georgia, Northwestern, Chicago Fire, all that has been cool,” Ferastrau said. “I’m very fortunate to have gone to LT and been taught through LTTV, but Sloche is something that I was part of from the start and have been able to watch grow since then.”

Sloche has since been recognized by Houston Rockets shooting guard, Jalen Green, famous YouTuber, CashNasty, and more. Echols was also given the opportunity to travel with Derrick Rose‘s AAU foundation, Team Rose, to Las Vegas to help shoot players in the nation.

Doing media has gotten me to work closely for basketball teams as well as an NBA agency,” Ferastrau said. “I plan to work for the agency as an NBA agent once I get my degree and agent certificate in the next few years.”

As Sloche continues to grow in popularity by the day, Echols responds to the progression with open goals. He knows that the company comes with challenges and changes that present themselves nearly everyday and that the opportunities are endless, according to Echols. He is content with the knowledge that although Sloche became harder to keep up with in college, his large fan base and number of supporters have never and will never give up on him. 

“Lyons Township is a well-respected sports program,” Echols said. “The school has done a great job of staying relevant and producing great athletes. Also, Lyons’ student support is almost unmatched. [They] have surrounded [themselves] with a contagious energy that deserves recognition.”