Vignocchi resigns as Glenbrook North boys soccer coach
Paul Vignocchi, a Glenbrook North graduate who returned to lead the boys soccer program and produced a fourth-place state finish in 2004, has resigned as head coach.
An assistant dean of students and assistant athletic director at the Northbrook school, Vignocchi stepped down to spend more time enjoying his children's activities, he said, and also to pivot more swiftly without leaving Spartans soccer adrift should further administrative opportunities arise.
"No. 1, I feel like our program is in good shape, and I feel like my kids are getting a little bit older with their activities; it gives me a little bit more flexibility in my schedule to be involved with them," he said.
"I've been assistant dean at Glenbrook North and assistant athletic director, and I've always had that passion to get into that administrative role. Even though there are not opportunities at this time, if there's an opportunity in the future I want to make sure the program is in good shape and I want to make sure the internal coaches would have an opportunity to go for the head coaching position."
He will continue as an assistant with the Spartans girls program under coach Anthony Valsamis.
A 1995 Glenbrook North graduate who played soccer at Northern Illinois University, Vignocchi went 233-119-58 in 18 years as head coach. His teams won five Central Suburban League North titles (before the switch to the South division), eight regional titles and a 2012 sectional title in addition to the 2004 Final Four finish in Class AA.
Vignocchi was named the 2016 Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association boys coach of the year. The next year he coached in the boys High School All-American Game in Orlando, Florida.
"He's a special head coach -- he really is. He's done an unbelievable job as head coach the last 18 years. The guy's a workhorse; he's been good for our kids," said Glenbrook North athletic director John Catalano.
"He does a great job being around soccer, being around our athletic department. It's a big loss for Glenbrook North for him not to be a head coach."
The lure of watching his 10-year-old son play baseball and his 13-year-old daughter perform in musical theater was too much for Vignocchi to remain as head coach.
"It's been harder and harder," said Vignocchi, adding that he also "really felt comfortable" with the soccer program's staff, including varsity assistant Paul Gibbs.
Vignocchi started his coaching career at Glenbrook South under the late IHSSCA Hall of Famer Jim Wolter. He joined the Glenbrook North program as sophomore coach in 2003, then was hired as head varsity coach in 2004 by former Spartans athletic director Bob Pieper.
"We had a tremendous team returning in 2004, and we ended up getting the fourth-place trophy. It was a pretty special year. I just kind of walked into the right situation at the right time," Vignocchi said.
One thing Catalano liked about Vignocchi's approach was his ability to "bridge the gap" between high school and club soccer, which can be a source of tension.
"He's always had the door open for those elite players who've played club soccer, and we've had a number of kids who've come back to play high school, and you don't often find that," Catalano said.
Vignocchi, who thanked the school administration for its support, was a fan of Spartans soccer long before he became a coach.
"The last state championship that Glenbrook North has won in soccer was 1983. I was an adolescent kid in 1983, and soccer was really big in the 1980s in Northbrook. It was my goal to try to get another state championship for Glenbrook North," he said.
"We've had a lot of special teams in a lot of ways, done a lot of things for a lot of different charities, have had some kids that have battled some illnesses. I'm proud of the work we've done in those 18 years and have built a strong community with our youth program (Spartan FC) as well. Overall, I'm very proud of the Glenbrook North soccer program, the youth success, and where it's heading."