Given the man St. Francis just hired as its new football coach, the Spartans should prepare to be one tough team.
An Arena Football League Hall of Fame "Ironman" fullback-linebacker with the Chicago Rush among other teams, Bob McMillen will take over as St. Francis football coach, athletic director Dan Hardwick announced Monday.
"That's one thing we going to instill in them," said McMillen, 46. "We're going to make them a very physical football team."
That is one reason why the Naperville resident and 1988 graduate of Immaculate Conception, now IC Catholic Prep, topped a pool of 70 applicants in a process finalized Feb. 24.
A "big-picture AD," Hardwick believes McMillen fits that bill.
"That to me means we develop good human beings first and foremost, give them some life skills that make them successful no matter what they do the rest of their lives, conduct themselves with class at all times, set an example for kids to do that and, of course, have fun," Hardwick said.
"I think that's where Bob really shined in the interview process."
McMillen, whose wife, the former Joan Serio, is a St. Francis graduate, lacks high school coaching experience but has excelled at other levels.
In 10 years on the board and as a coach with Patriots Youth Football in Naperville, McMillen has been part of seven national championships. Last fall he led a 12-Under Pop Warner Super Bowl winner that included his younger son, T.J.
His older son, Bobby, will be a redshirt sophomore linebacker at Iowa State; 10-year-old daughter Shay is a competitive gymnast.
At the other end of the spectrum, following his retirement as a player McMillen served as coach for the Arena League's Chicago Rush from 2011-13, going 13-5 in his first season and earning coach of the year honors the next. Last year he ended three seasons as coach of the LA Kiss, the Arena entry founded by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the rock group, Kiss.
McMillen played football under such mentors as the late Jack Lewis at Immaculate Conception and under Bob MacDougall at College of DuPage before becoming an All-American at Illinois Benedictine, now Benedictine University.
Following a 13-year Arena League career, McMillen's No. 44 was retired by the Rush in 2011 and in 2012 he was voted the league's 17th-best player in history. One of a handful of players to win three Arena Bowl titles, in 2013 McMillen was inducted into the Arena Football League Hall of Fame.
St. Francis' third coach in two calendar years, McMillen aims to provide not just toughness but stability.
"I'm in this thing for the long haul at St. Francis," he said. "I'm hoping to be there the next 20, 30 years as their head coach. I'm very honored to have this opportunity to be at this great school and I'm excited to begin this journey."