WW South alum O'Toole: 'High school sports a genuine time'
Somewhere on the road between Wichita and Oklahoma City, Reilly O'Toole is talking about life after football.
And it's good.
It's been a decade since O'Toole quarterbacked Wheaton Warrenville South to consecutive Class 7A state titles, and a little less time since he played 36 games in four seasons at the University of Illinois.
O'Toole left the area eight months ago to accept a sales representative job in Oklahoma City at John A. Marshall, a company that specializes in commercial furniture design. It's a long way from Memorial Stadium in Champaign, the place that defined his football career for six years.
"It's fun to reminisce on those times," O'Toole said. "As you get older the memories with teammates and friends mean so much."
In a high-school program known for great quarterback play, O'Toole stands as one of the best in WW South history. In two varsity seasons he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 5,300 yards and a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
WW South beat Glenbard West and Lake Zurich in the 2009 and 2010 Class 7A title game in Champaign as the Tigers went 27-1 with O'Toole behind center. He closed his prep tenure with 26 straight wins.
In addition to being named the Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Football Captain his senior year, O'Toole also was named to three All-Area boys basketball teams.
"High-school sports is such a genuine time," O'Toole said. "You've grown up with everyone and you're playing for your community. You forget about plays but you remember playing with friends."
O'Toole had an up-and-down experience at the University of Illinois as he worked with three different offensive coordinators and came in and out of the lineup for four years. But he closed his time there by starting in a bowl game as a team captain.
"Playing as a freshman was tough to adjust to but that's why I went there, because I wanted to play right away," he said. "It was a roller-coaster for four years. It's tough mentally."
O'Toole made enough of an impression to be hired the next season as an Illinois graduate assistant. As much as he enjoyed a different view from the sideline, though, he decided life as a college coach wasn't for him.
"You see how much they're away from their families and how many stops they make during their careers," he said. "The family aspect really made the decision for me."
Last summer O'Toole married Aliina, whom he met while she played soccer at Illinois. Of the nine groomsmen in his wedding party, six were classmates from WW South.
He worked at Stryker selling orthopedic equipment before shifting his career and his life to Oklahoma. As different as it is from Wheaton, he and Aliina have settled in. His parents moved to Kansas City, making the transition easier.
"I love Wheaton and I always thought it'd be cool to send my kids to Wheaton Warrenville South someday," he said. "It was tough to leave but this was an opportunity to grow with a great company."
Despite an increasingly busy career, last fall O'Toole still found time to be an assistant football coach at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City. He isn't able to contribute as much as he'd like, but he does what time allows.
"I spent so much time playing football, it's nice just to be able to give back," he said.
No matter how far away from his hometown he may be, O'Toole's mind never strays far from Wheaton.
"My high-school experience was incredible," he said. "The thing I miss most about Wheaton is the people."