This weekend is the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association annual spring clinic. Retiring St. Charles North football coach Mark Gould knows it well, but would never have expected to be part of the event's highlight.
One day earlier this year Gould opened his mail and discovered he'd been selected for the IHSFCA Hall of Fame. Inductions are Saturday in Champaign.
"I remember when the envelope came I thought it was when the (annual IHSFCA) clinic was coming up. I was completely blindsided," Gould said.
"It goes without mentioning it's very much an honor. When I look at some of the other names in the hall I'm really kind of humbled to be in it with the other people. I kind of joked, it must be a down year."
Not at all. Fellow inductee Rigo Schmelzer of Bloomington is credited with 13 conference championships at Bloomington; eight of the coaches have at least 105 career wins.
Gould will go in as a "career coach." That reflects a 3-6 campaign as Geneva's head coach in 1994 but mainly as part of Buck Drach's staff at St. Charles and Gould's tenure at St. Charles North, which debuted on varsity in 2001. His North Stars teams went 63-56 with eight straight playoff appearances from 2002-09. This school year concludes his 35th involved in prep football. He started as a teacher's assistant at Glenbard South.
Gould said he was nominated by North Stars assistant Jared McCall with urging by other assistant coaches and athletic director Dan Dolney. Gould believes the Hall of Fame Committee may have been "swayed" by his time at St. Charles.
"We had just a great staff, and some really good teams," Gould said. "Our teams were well-respected in the state, and so I think I owe as much to what I learned and accomplished to Rick Butcher and Mike Powers as well as Buck Drach."
Facets of Gould's education under Drach included X's and O's, organizational skills on and off the practice field and player discipline -- "when to be tough but also to know when to put the kid gloves on," he said.
Gould has since produced Division I players such as Ryan Brown at Northern Illinois, his older brother Patrick Brown at Central Florida and the latest, junior Chase Gianacakos, who recently committed to Michigan State.
According to the IHSFCA's Phil Salzer, Gould kept himself and thus his players updated on training techniques and strategies.
"I think he did an excellent job of keeping himself up professionally," Salzer said. "He always attended clinics, he hosted clinics, he brought in coaches from outside. I think he was very, very well prepared."
Salzer said: "Working well with athletes, Mark has been able to shape their lives."
Gould, 56, said he'll take his retirement plans day by day, with the vague goal of "traveling to warmer climates."
Little did he know that'd include taking his wife, Lorie, and children Kellen and Kyleigh to the hall of fame induction in balmy Champaign.
"I'd never thought about it once," he said.
The BOOM squad
Some 50 metropolitan-area football players will compete at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the 2013 BOOM 7-on-7 spring football game at the Aurora Sports Zone Dome.
More than 500 Illinois athletes competed for positions on the Midwest BOOM spring football teams. The organization is generally managed by J.R. Nicklos, former NFL fullback, World Bowl champion and all-American tight end at Western Illinois. He's part-owner and sports performance director at Acceleration Sports Performance in Naperville, and also a Neuqua Valley assistant coach.
Continuing this St. Charles North theme, North Stars tight end-defensive lineman Garrett Johnson is among the players competing Sunday.
So is St. Charles East receiver and defensive back Brannon Barry, Marmion quarterback Brock Krueger, Aurora Central Catholic quarterback Kyle Reilly and St. Francis quarterback Justin Berry, a freshman Nicklos said already has a scholarship offer from Temple.
The BOOM squad players will compete in several passing league tournaments this spring and summer, including April 14 and May 18-19 in Chicago.
Next up: 300
Ruth Vostal knows winning soccer. A four-year varsity player at St. Charles and a member of the St. Charles East Hall of Fame, she played on two state championship teams and one third-place squad.
Her winning ways have transitioned as coach at St. Charles North, where the North Stars recently celebrated the program's 200th victory.
"I've just looked at the 13 years that the St. Charles North soccer program has existed and I'm just proud to be part of those 13 years and reach the milestone," said the former Ruth Poulin, sister of North Stars head varsity boys basketball coach Tom Poulin.
She said she knew last year the bicentennial mark was getting close, but had lost track of the exact number. No. 200 came March 16 against Evanston, 2-0.
Her players and their parents knew the score. When the North Stars arrived at the Downers Grove South tournament last Saturday there was a big congratulatory banner.
After an 8-0 trouncing of Lincoln-Way Central they presented Vostal with a dozen roses and a big blowup of her high school basketball action shot with all the soccer players imitating that pose.
"It was classic," she said, illustrating one aspect of this program's success.
"A balance of when to play and when to joke," she said.
Coming off a Class 3A runner-up season and returning players such as four-year starter Alex Gage and fellow senior midfielder Kelly Manski, whose older sisters Lisa and Kristen both played for Vostal, there's a continuity that creates success. Assistant coach Annie Lauterer has been in the program nine of 13 years either as a player or a coach.
"I think it's an extremely talented team," she said of this year's crew, now 6-1 coming off win No. 204. "We're very fortunate at St. Charles North that we have the ability just to reload even when we graduate a large number of seniors."
Vostal said she's "overwhelmed" with the success of a North Stars program that has won regional titles each year since 2003. That includes two state runner-up finishes, a third place and another sectional championship.
Like nearly any coach, though, the main thing she savors is the relationships she's built with her players and their families. Landmark victories aren't quite as important.
"It's crazy to think we're already at 200," she said, "but it's been fun along the way and we'll just take one at a time."
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