A class act, Marmion football coach resigns as program victories leader

Marmion football is losing a class act and its career victories leader.

The school announced Oct. 31 that Dan Thorpe resigned the head coaching position after 19 seasons at Marmion and 42 seasons overall spanning seven schools in four states

"I am 64 years old, I turn 65 next month. Time is precious and the time commitment in the off-season is brutal. I love it and I will miss it, but it's time to put my time into my next journey," Thorpe said.

His next journey will look much like the current one minus football.

Thorpe will remain Marmion track coach. He - and jumper-sprinter Seth Groom - led the Cadets to the 2017 Class 2A title.

Director of college guidance at Marmion, he'll no longer have to juggle football responsibilities and meetings with upperclassmen and their parents.

"Over the last six years I wasn't starting football preparation until 9 o'clock every night," said Thorpe, who decided last winter to resign.

He's also been big into fundraising and speaks at Marmion's triannual junior retreats at the Carmelite Spiritual Center in Darien.

"He's been a great asset to the school," said retired Marmion athletic director Joe Chivari, who hired Thorpe in 2005.

"He would do anything for the students," Chivari said.

Thorpe led the Cadets to 10 playoff seasons and a 103-84 record, according to IHSA records, eclipsing the 88 wins of hall of famer Paul Murphy.

Thorpe's 2010 team, led by two-way star T.J. Lally, went 12-1 before running into a Rockford Boylan buzz saw in the Class 6A championship.

An option quarterback and player of the year at Antigo High School as a senior, Thorpe was the first to win a Wisconsin state championship as a player and as a coach, at Turner High School in Beloit.

Until sticking at Marmion, Thorpe followed the career path of his wife, Dana. She's now chief executive officer at Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, South Carolina, and makes it to Aurora just one weekend a month.

Dan Thorpe said he was just as proud of this season's 2-7 squad as he was the 2010 6A finalists.

"Many a time we were outmanned, but we were never outplayed," he said.

He'll need time to wean himself from the football strategy, the laughs, the camaraderie after a big win. He caught himself taking notes at Northern Illinois' Nov. 7 football game.

"I'm going to miss the preparation, but obviously it's the relationships with the boys and the assistant coaches, and seeing the kids grow from gawky freshman athletes to football players and men of Marmion. Hopefully, we've taught them the process of winning in life, not just in football games," Thorpe said.

"My greatest thrill is always watching the student body run onto the field after an emotional win. That's still my greatest joy, is bonding the players with the student body and just seeing all that energy and the smiling faces. That is just the greatest feeling to be a part of that."

On the cusp

Sooner or later, it seems a Vernon Hills boy is going to bowl a 300 game.

Assistant coach Bill Munro, who reports Cougars results, noted that Zach Shoemaker bowled a 297 in his second game against New Trier, Nov. 13 at Classic Bowl in Morton Grove.

Shoemaker threw 11 strikes in that game. He's the third Vernon Hills boy so far this season to connect for 10 strikes in a game. Caleb Gumminger and Scott Wolfe, who each shot 289, are the other two.

Just perfect

The Northern Illinois University men's golf program will be allowed a Mulligan starting next fall.

Huskies coach John Carlson on Nov. 9 announced that four athletes signed National Letters of Intent to the program.

Among them is Hinsdale Central's Jack Mulligan, ranked No. 1 in the senior class and No. 2 in the state by the American Junior Golf Association.

Interesting names normally go without mention here (a favorite: 1990s Palatine star Chris Hercules, simple, classic) but this seemed a natural. Mulligan's likely heard it all before on the links.

Prospect senior Patrick Raupp, a two-time all-state golfer who tied for sixth at the Class 3A boys state final in October, also signed with Northern Illinois.

The commitment of players such as Mulligan and Raupp led Carlson to say it's "the deepest class of talent, by the national rankings, that we have signed at NIU Golf."

Way to go

Though not technically "athletes," Tyler Ulbert and Deona Julary have "Friday Night Lights" experience at, respectively, Lake Zurich and Hinsdale Central high schools.

Congratulations are in order as they both have been selected as drum majors for Macy's Great American Marching Band.

It's one of 12 marching bands that will perform at the 97th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, starting at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 23.

Marmion football coach Dan Thorpe, who resigned the position Oct. 31, led Marmion to 10 playoff berths and the 2010 Class 6A title game. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO
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