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John Holecek, the longtime Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) football coach who created a perennial power in the state of Illinois, is stepping down. The announcement came during the school’s athletics banquet and on the heels of the Ramblers’ third state title under the iconic coach.
“It is with deep appreciation that I thank Coach John Holecek for nearly twenty years of service as head coach at Loyola Academy and wish him the best of luck as he embarks on this next chapter,” Loyola’s Genevieve Atwood said in a statement, per the Chicago Sun Times.
Holecek has been a legend in Illinois football since his time as a high school standout at Marion Catholic and then at the University of Illinois, where he was a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker.
Following eight seasons in the NFL, he returned to the state and began a coaching career at St. Ignatius (Chicago). Eventually, he got the job at Loyola, which he had doubts about landing…but, as he told The Buffalo News, “I got recommendations from (former NFL coaches) Marv Levy and Wade Phillips, and I think they’re the reason I got the job.”
The rest, as the record books have documented, is history.
Atwood continued: “The Holecek era will stand out among the storied history of Loyola’s football program for its grit, its winning tradition, and its commitment to excellence. Even in his departure, John’s legacy at LA will continue to inspire us to reach new heights.”
Of course, exits like this can always trigger questions. But the highway of rumors and guesses hasn’t had much traffic.
Instead, the overall focal point has been classic and straightforward—his final game, a 13-3 victory over Lincoln-Way East in the 8A state championship, brought Holecek’s final record at Loyola to 185-36. And it came in a familiar setting: Memorial Stadium at Champaign, where he roamed in college for the Illini.
What a way to go out.