Paulette Reddel teaches first grade at Grace Lutheran School in River Forest, but it sounds like she'd be a good reporter. Her questions are evocative.
"My wife said a pretty good one," said York boys track coach Stan Reddel. "'Do you like coaching, or do you like winning?'"
"And I said, 'That's a good question.' I'm more competitive than people think."
Stan Reddel has one last competitive weekend coaching the Dukes. If things pan out the way he hopes he'll be hoisting a big trophy to conclude the Class 3A boys track and field championship in Charleston, where any number of suitors look to upend four-time defending champion Lake Park.
After 14 years as Dukes head coach, 14 as an assistant and a successful term leading Walther Lutheran -- winning the 1984 Class AA title -- the man wearing the Kelly Green tie, smart blue blazer and cream-colored, wide-brimmed hat will head into retirement.
"I don't have any big, big plans, but I just don't want to be in charge anymore," said Reddel, whose successor has yet to be named.
Since 1934 York has had three boys track coaches -- Clarence East, the legendary Joe Newton and Reddel. It took some brass to consider following in the footsteps of Newton, especially when after a relatively fallow period on the state level the Dukes had won four trophies in five seasons, including the Class AA title in Newton's final year as track coach, 2000.
In 13 visits to Charleston since Reddel took over the program in 2001, York has nine top-10 finishes, winning Class 3A in 2009. Between 2004 and 2011 the Dukes placed no lower than fifth with four second-place finishes.
Reddel initially came to York as a social studies teacher and track assistant, to the bewilderment of some.
"There's not a whole lot of other schools I'd have gone to. Everybody goes, like, 'Why would you go to York to be an assistant?'" he said with an astounded look. "That's like asking why would you go to Alabama to be an assistant in football."
Reddel was offered a position, but before accepting out of respect he met with Newton to get the lay of the land.
"Right from the get-go he let me have a lot of autonomy and I always appreciated that," Reddel said. "The assistants need to be empowered. Otherwise, professionally in a lot of ways, why do it? It just takes too much time."
He's since empowered core assistants Joe Gianneschi, Jim Hedman, Chris Korfist, Mike Murphy, Tom Clancy and Keith Petranek, the latter two predating Reddel's arrival in the 1986-87 school year.
The combination of quality assistants and a retiring coach can spur great results. After a two-year, state-level lull for York and all of DuPage County -- contained to only Lake Park among the top-10 teams in 3A -- the Dukes are among several squads looking to bump off Lake Park.
Leading the way for the Dukes is hurdler Jarvis Hill, pole vaulter and high jumper Reid Smith, middle-distance runners Matt Plowman and Alex Bashqawi and sprinter Josh Farrar, who after not running an open sprint as a junior is seeded third in both the 100 and 200.
The team race looks wide open. Having perused the qualifiers, Neuqua Valley coach Mike Kennedy mentioned seven teams he saw as trophy contenders, including Lake Park, York and his own Wildcats, who qualified nine spots at the Joliet West sectional.
Kennedy's candidates also include usual suspect Edwardsville, Thornton, Bloom and Plainfield Central. One team he didn't mention, Minooka, won the Joliet West sectional and last year was expected to challenge Lake Park before a rough preliminary round squelched that.
Until someone can have both a good Friday and Saturday, Lake Park is boss. Tied with East St. Louis, Bloom, East St. Louis Lincoln and Thornwood with four consecutive boys state titles (East St. Louis Lincoln's girls won nine times between 1982-90), the Lancers are, as coach Jay Ivory said, "chasing history."
His boys can't see it that way, he said.
"We've got to stay focused on the here and now, got to stay in the present. There's probably a reason why nobody's done it before, it's really hard, so we can't lose focus on what we're doing every day," said Ivory, adding Belleville West to the team mix.
"We're not taking anything for granted. I think that'd be real easy to do, and nobody's going to give us anything. Whatever we do, we're going to earn it."
They'd definitely earn it. Louisville-bound senior Marcus Jegede, limited all season by a hamstring pull, may hope to land a huge long jump and triple jump early Friday and pray it sticks. Returning all-state hurdler Antonio Shenault, also not 100 percent with a hamstring, is seeded second in the 110 hurdles but 28th of 30 in the 300 hurdles, near the end of the meet.
Ivory is heartened by 400 and 3,200 relays he believes can improve on sectional times that had them in the middle of the pack. As usual stress will be placed on the Lancers' throwers, Curtwan Evans and Mike Prestigiacomo, each top seven in the discus with Evans seeded third in shot put. Elliot Krause will be expected to score in pole vault.
"We're going to try to get healthy so we can meet that challenge," Ivory said. "I think it's going to be fun. I think it's going to be real close."
And it'll be the end for York's Reddel. One last shot at greatness before retirement creates time to pursue his passions.
Or as he said, "Go to track meets."