There is a barrel full of stories out there about athletes who enter the coaching profession and come back to coach against one of their former coaches.
Most of the time, they speak about each other with respect, and they genuinely mean it.
This story is about two of those people, but of all the "student comes back to face teacher" stories I've run across in high school sports over the years, this one may top the list when it comes to the admiration and respect Anne Vogt and Jaci Corn have for each other.
Vogt, one of the best all-around softball players to ever come through Larkin's program, is now in her fourth year as the head softball coach at her alma mater after spending 10-plus years as the head coach at Elgin Community College.
Corn, a 2002 Elgin High graduate, played for Vogt at ECC and is now in her fifth year as St. Edward's head coach.
On Saturday, Vogt's Royals and Corn's Green Wave got to play each other in a regularly scheduled game for the first time, after the past three years of rainouts (they did meet in the Larkin Slugfest tournament two years ago). A miracle being able to play Saturday, it may be labeled, considering Friday night's two inches of rain and Larkin's softball field being one of only two playable baseball or softball fields in Elgin Area School District U-46 Saturday.
That St. Edward won the varsity game 8-0 was more of a footnote, at least to those who know the history between Vogt and Corn. It's not only a coach-player history but also a friendship and a co-worker history from when both gave private lessons at Fox Valley Sports Academy.
While Larkin softball has struggled for wins on the field the past few years, what the Royals will never lack is enthusiasm for the game, the game they're being taught by a person who personifies the "love of the game" label.
And that's something that has stuck with Corn since she first played for Vogt at ECC in 2003, a year in which the Spartans struggled to a 2-10 rain-shortened season before coming back the next year to go 20-10 and tie for the Skyway Conference championship.
"That complete turnaround was because of Anne and I truly believe with any other coach it wouldn't have played out the same way," Corn said.
That ECC experience also helped Corn, who has also coached the past six years with the Northern Illinois Lightning travel program, mold her coaching philosophy for the future.
"For as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to be a coach," she said. "I've tried to learn something from everyone I've had as a coach but I truly look at Anne as a mentor. I molded part of my coaching philosophy using her style of coaching, her positivity and instruction."
Corn, who went on to play for and graduate from Judson University, will be the first to tell you she played for some tough, intense coaches in her career, most notably former Elgin girls basketball coach Lee Turek and Matt Schacht, one of Corn's multisport coaches for many years. She'll also be the first to credit people like Turek and Schacht for having a role in forming her coaching philosophy. But Vogt has a different style, one that helped Corn become a well-rounded coach.
"Anne always knows how to take the best from every situation, good or bad," Corn said. "She always made it fun, no matter what, and that's what I've tried to do. She always has high expectations for everybody but she's not one of those coaches who wears her emotions on her sleeve. Regardless of what's going on she's always upbeat and encouraging and that's what I love about her."
For Vogt, seeing a former player like Corn come back and have success as a coach is as fulfilling as seeing one of her players do something better today than she did yesterday.
"It's always been fun watching kids I coached grow up and become successful in their own lives," Vogt said. "Hopefully I played a little role in that. Jaci has been one of the kids I've followed and always hoped the best for. She was a dedicated player at ECC for two years and St. Ed's was lucky to get her. I always wanted her helping with my camps because she'd always come out and give it her best. She's the kind of person you want in your life."
As time passes, you never know what the future might hold. Vogt and Corn are not schoolteachers. They each hold down full-time jobs and coach after their work day is done. How long each of them will continue to do so remains to be seen, and will likely be driven by their passion to help young lives be molded the right way. So their teams finally getting to play each other Saturday was a stroke of good luck.
"When I first took the job here one of my first priorities was to get St. Ed's on our schedule because I knew it would be fun," Vogt said.
As it should be, and as Anne Vogt and Jaci Corn do a masterful job of making it for those student-athletes fortunate enough to call them Coach.