Each week we present a specific question to all of the coaches in ESPNChicago.com’s top 20 poll.
This week’s coaches roundtable question: What coach had the biggest impact on you wanting to become a coach?
Crystal Lake South’s Chuck Ahsmann: Bill Mack was my high school football coach. The way he coached had a big influence on my decision to go into coaching and the way I try to coach my teams. Coach Mack is a hall of fame coach because of his achievements, but I believe he has had a lot of influence on coaches he has coached as well.
Maine South’s David Inserra: Three coaches for this one. Phil Hopkins was my high school coach and an Illinois Hall of Fame coach. He brought passion, intensity, an urge to win at any competition and a great knowledge of the whole game of football. He was extremely personable and so easy to talk with. Glen Van Proyen was a teacher of mine. I never got to play for him, but was the consummate "teaching life through a game" coach. The last one is Bobby Knight. As a young kid I loved how he broke everything down, expected 100 percent out of his players at all times and played by the rules. He was stubborn to a fault, but he was so far ahead of his time with X's and O's and use of film.
Batavia’s Dennis Piron: In high school -- I went to Batavia -- Mike Gaspari was an assistant coach who spent time with me before and after practice to become a better player. He was a new coach at Batavia and went on to become the head coach and develop a very highly respected program at Batavia. I also went on to North Central College and ran track and played football for four years there. Mike invited me back to Batavia after graduation to coach with him, and I have been coaching ever since. Mike is the reason I am doing what I do today.
Antioch’s Brian Glashagel: Although all of the coaches I had at Conant High School were great (Dave Pendergast for football, Tom McCormick for basketball) and the coaches I had at Knox College (Randy Oberembt for football and Bob Prout for track), the coach that most impacted me wanting to become a coach and most impacted my life was Ron Gummerson from Conant. He was my track coach. The reason being is that he didn't only transform me physically from a football and basketball player into a track sprinter/hurdler, but made me mentally tougher. He taught me that you don't always have to perform your best every competition, but just compete every time. If you wait to compete in perfect conditions, you will never compete. He emphasized this every day. He never yelled. Not once. But he had a look. He could just look at you, and you knew you messed up, and it made you like you were letting down a parent. He passed away this past summer. and he obviously impacted the lives of many as the line was out the door, and it was filled with coaches he worked with and against and athletes from over the past four decades.
Geneva’s Rob Wincinski: My college coach Bill Mallory, loved his intensity. I wanted to be him. My old Ottawa High School coach Gary Vancil also influenced me to go into high school coaching. It looked like he was having a blast.
Lake Zurich’s Bryan Stortz: I’ve been so fortunate to have so many great coaches influence how and why I coach, including my high school coaches Don Tanney, Randy Bouris, Jack Esterdahl and Tom Wooden and college coaches John Furlong and Tom Schmulbach. My father Barry Stortz was a high school football and wrestling coach in the 1970’s. We learned the foundation for sports and life from him – work ethic, attitude, commitment and the “little things.” It seemed like every day during the summer he would take my older brother and I out in the yard and hit fly balls and grounders to us. If we did a good job fielding, he would then pitch and let us bat. We learned that defense comes first! He coached many of our youth baseball and football teams. He always seemed to purely love being out there coaching and teaching all of us. He taught us fundamental after fundamental, demanded a great effort and inspired us all. I grew up seeing firsthand how being a teacher/educator and coach was a great profession. People would walk up to my dad in a store or restaurant and say, “Hi coach, remember when…. thanks!” I thought that was the greatest thing, I couldn’t believe the impact that he was able to have on someone’s life. He’s definitely had the biggest impact on why I became a coach.
Crete-Monee’s Jerry Verde: Marian Catholic’s Dave Mattio was my coach in high school and later hired me as his defensive coordinator. He has been a mentor and a friend. Much of what I know about coaching high school football has been just trying to emulate him. His ability to win with class, get the best out of his players and yet still be personable is an example for any coach.
Lemont’s Eric Michaelsen: My high school football coach Marv Gonsiorowski. He helped me to develop a love and respect for the game. He also treated people the right way. He never acted too important to talk to anyone and was always willing to help. An all time great person.