Jason Schaal has spent the last eight years coaching student-athletes at South Elgin High School and along the way one of his constant messages has been to take advantage of opportunities when they come along.
Schaal is now applying that to his professional life.
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One of the first hires when South Elgin opened, the school's first girls basketball coach, its only softball coach and an assistant to Dale Schabert in the football program since the doors opened, Schaal submitted his resignation Tuesday from Elgin Area School District U-46, effective at the end of the school year.
He will become the Life Fitness department chair at Grayslake Central High School, where he also expects to remain involved in coaching football and softball, although he said those duties have yet to be determined.
He will oversee health and driver's education at the same school where former Elgin football coach Tom Kim is now an assistant principal and former Streamwood and Burlington Central athletic director Steve Gertz is now the AD.
"I've always talked to kids about opportunities and this is an opportunity for me and my career," said Schaal, a 1991 Naperville North graduate who holds a bachelor's degree from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master's degree from Aurora University. "I'm excited about it. I'm excited about Life Fitness. The curriculum is fitness-based and they do a lot of things to promote healthy living."
Schaal coached the Storm's girls basketball team for the first two years of the program, one as a JV team and then the second year being the first varsity season. He stepped down from that position to devote more time to being the head softball coach, where he has posted a 126-107 record, winning regional titles in 2008 and 2009. He was named the Illinois Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2008.
He won't be leaving South Elgin without some emotion.
"I have all positive things to say about South Elgin," Schaal said. "I know it's the right move but I have a lot of memories at South Elgin. It's not going to be easy to leave but it's a step forward for me."