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updated: 2/8/2012 8:25 PM

Proffitt prefers to coach at Lake Zurich

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  • Defensive coordinator David Proffitt, shown here celebrating a playoff win with former coach Bryan Stortz, left, has been named Stortz's successor at Lake Zurich.

      Defensive coordinator David Proffitt, shown here celebrating a playoff win with former coach Bryan Stortz, left, has been named Stortz's successor at Lake Zurich.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • David Proffitt

    David Proffitt


Coaching never gets old for David Proffitt, evident by the fact that the ol' football coach just completed his third season directing Lake Zurich's freshman B girls basketball team.

"I really enjoy doing that," Proffitt said. "I recommend it to anyone as far as it teaches you how to keep control of your emotions in high-intensity situations."

Coaching keeps the senior citizen young.

"People ask me, 'How long are you going to keep doing this?' " Proffitt said. "My answer is, 'I am retired. Now I just get paid to be retired.' "

Proffitt may be 65 years old, but his perspective is as good as ever, his energy and enthusiasm as high as ever. He's still hip, still smart, still passionate.

And so the man who's been known to sport stylish mustaches and sporty eyewear, and devise winning defensive schemes both on sports fields, is excited to take over Lake Zurich's football program.

He's feeling young.

In accepting Lake Zurich's offer, the defensive whiz becomes a head football coach for the third time in his career. He enjoyed a 12-year run at Marian Central from 1991-2002, taking the Hurricanes to the Class 3A state quarterfinals three times, including the semifinals in 1995. He also coached two years in the late 1970s at now-defunct Weber on the Chicago's North Side.

It's out with the young and in with the old, so to speak, as Proffitt replaces Bryan Stortz, 34, who left last month to take the head football job at Rock Island.

"It's an honor," Proffitt said of taking over after six great seasons as Stortz's defensive coordinator. "It's a privilege to have the opportunity to continue with a program that Bryan and the rest of the coaches started six years ago when Bryan got the head job."

Proffitt, a 1964 graduate of Mattoon High in central Illinois and a four-year football starter at Dakota State University in South Dakota, began his coaching career in 1969 at Gordon Tech. It was there he fell in love with coaching and a young lady named Genevieve, whom he met on a blind date.

Today, the Crystal Lake couple has three grown children and four grandsons, three of whom live five minutes from grandpa and grandma. David and Genevieve celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2011.

The proximity to his kids and grandkids explain why Proffitt chose not to follow Stortz to Rock Island. The Proffitts' daughter Liz, a former star swimmer at Palatine, is getting married this summer.

"I seriously considered going to Rock Island," Proffitt said. "They talked to me."

But the savvy ol' coach is also wise enough to know the grass isn't always greener on the other side. He called his head coach/defensive coordinator relationship with Stortz an "ideal marriage." For the "betterment of the program," he figured he needed to stay at Lake Zurich and remain doing what he's been doing the last six years, a run that has included the Bears winning a state title and twice finishing as the state runner-up in Class 7A. He was a finalist for the head job when Stortz got it.

Proffitt will continue serving as defensive coordinator. Which is good news for the Bears, who have thrived defensively with him calling the shots.

"I don't see a lot of changes in what we've been doing the last six years," Proffitt said. "Basically, our motto is, 'We are relentless.' What we try to teach the kids is to play with reckless abandon in football."

Proffitt teaches his players to tackle life the same way, and he leads by example.

When he left Weber following the '79 season, he did so to take a job selling exercise equipment and later became a strength training director for a popular health club. But he coached youth football on the side and coached one season as a volunteer for head coach Bill Mack during his last season at Crystal Lake Central.

In 1991, the Marian Central job opened. It had been more than a decade since he taught in the classroom. His football teams won 81 games and went to the state playoffs seven times in his 12 seasons. Then in 2003, he stepped away from coaching.

It didn't last.

"I was miserable (not coaching)," Proffitt said.

So he served as a volunteer assistant coach for head coach Bruce Kay at Cary-Grove in 2004 and 2005, while still teaching at Marian Central. He then moved on to Lake Zurich, where he's been teaching physical education full-time and coaching ever since.

When Stortz left, Lake Zurich's administration first sought out internal candidates to fill his position. The Bears never went outside the building. They knew they had their man in Proffitt, assuming he wanted it.

"I am confident that Dave will continue with the many traditions he helped build in his last six years of coaching here at Lake Zurich High School," athletic director Rolly Vazquez said. "His experience as an educator and coach will definitely be beneficial to our student athletes."

Freshman B girls basketball players are among those, too, who have profited from Proffitt.

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