Palatine football coach Rick Splitt always made sure his players knew the importance of family. And Splitt showed how much family meant to him when he chose to step down last Thursday so he could spend more time with his own immediate kin.
"I really appreciate the community of athletics and football in Palatine," Splitt said. "Just the sense of community. So how could I do that, with my kids at a different school?"
Splitt decided to step down this past week so he could focus on his children, who will begin high school next year. Splitt has triplets that are in eighth grade -- two boys and a girl -- and another son that is in seventh grade.
Splitt simply decided he wanted to have the kind of parenting high school experience that he has seen parents of his players have in his 24 years as a high school coach.
Splitt says his wife Kristen and their children tried to sway his decision.
"They didn't agree with me stepping down," Splitt said. "They have all come to love Palatine football. But this is something I need to do because my family is so important."
Splitt said changes in how his sons' high school football program would be run forced the decision.
"The conference they play in will have freshman games on Friday nights," Splitt said. "And there was no way I could get to watch them.
"I was set to continue coaching at Palatine. But the changes in the conference made me change my mind."
Splitt took over the program four years ago, when ironically, Tyler Donnelly, who was head coach of the Pirates, also resigned for family considerations. Splitt, who was the defensive coordinator on that team, succeeded Donnelly.
In Splitt's first year as head coach, the Pirates went 4-5. But after that, Splitt and the Pirates reeled off three consecutive MSL West titles, while compiling a 30-7 mark during that span.
His Pirates also advanced to the state semifinals the past two seasons. They lost to eventual state champion Loyola in 2015 and eventual state champion Maine South this past season.
The Pirates look to be poised to have a great opportunity to defend those MSL titles and take another deep run in the playoffs in 2017 with returnees like Jake Moertl and Johnny O'Shea.
There was early speculation that Splitt was resigning that he could take over a head coaching position elsewhere, but Splitt quickly discounted that notion.
"I am not going anywhere else," said Splitt, who is a guidance counselor at Palatine.
Splitt did say that he did receive many nice emails and phone calls regarding his decision.
"I have been very touched by a lot of things and the emails I have received," Splitt said. "It has been a nice thing."