Update: Illinois-Springfield Athletic Director Rodger Jehlicka submitted his resignation, effective August 15, 2011.
I didn’t have the heart to ask him what he was thinking, feeling. I just told him I loved him and wished him well.
My investment in the program is only six years old, but seeing Milton Tennant watch the final seconds wind off the clock in the final game of his 25th year as a soccer coach at the University of Illinois-Springfield, I can only imagine the memories that were flying through his head.
Milt is the third coach to retire from a school and team that was once a soccer juggernaut in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), winning national titles in 1986, 1988 and 1993. After Aydin Gonulsen and Joe Eck, he is the final remnant from that incredibly successful staff.
Note: The following was submitted by friend Roger Walker as he reflects on the end of his son Chance’s soccer career. Chance was both a college All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-American Goalie (in addition to numerous high school awards) at the University of Illinois at Springfield. As an student, he also made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and graduated in the standard four year time frame.
I think it was the fall of 1993 or 1994 when I attended my first youth soccer game. We had signed our oldest son up to participate in the Prairie Central Soccer League. I had over my years of driving around the Bloomington/Normal area seen all the kids dressed in their blue and yellow uniforms playing soccer, but had never really given it much thought. You see, I was a baseball player, and that was what my son was going be, or so I thought.
I remember my first soccer game very well for two reasons. One, I didn’t have a clue what was happening on the field, because I didn’t know anything about soccer. And two, I’m pretty sure the kids and the coaches were in the same boat I was. Wherever the ball went, so went 20 players, except for the goalie. He or she was most likely picking dandelions or swinging from the crossbar of the goal. The other memory I have is we were only there an hour. I remember thinking as we got in the car how thankful I was that attending my son’s soccer game had not eaten up much of my precious free time. For the next three or four years we continued to attend soccer games. Somewhere during that time my baseball player started to grow into a soccer player. That’s when the real trouble started.