Excessive Faculty Soccer: Two coach legends retire
With little fanfare, two remarkably similar and remarkably successful careers as football coaches came to an end last weekend.
This is exactly what Ron Muhitch of Wheaton Warrenville South and Mike Stine of Naperville Central wanted.
Her retirement has long been in the works, but the pandemic has messed up the details and extended her tenure months past the scheduled end dates.
Muhitch spent 41 seasons with Wheaton Central and his successor WW South. As an assistant to John Thorne, he was part of four state titles and two runner-ups. In his 19 seasons as head coach, Muhitch’s teams went to 153-63 with state titles in 2006 (8A), 2009 (7A) and 2010 (7A) as well as a runner-up.
Stine trained with Naperville Central for 37 years, won a state championship and finished second with Joe Bunge twice before playing as head coach with an 8A title between 104 and 55 in 15 seasons in 2013.
Naperville Central not only knew about Stine’s plans for months, but also conducted interviews for his successor last December. A new coach has not yet been announced out of respect for Stine’s wish for a cautious farewell.
“I didn’t want this season to have anything to do with me in any way,” he said.
Muhitch felt the same way. In fact, he didn’t even think there was going to be a season. After retiring from teaching, he and his wife spent winters in Sarasota, Florida. He considered retiring early in the pandemic.
“I thought about it around this time last year,” said Muhitch. “That would have been 40 years. It sounded like a good time giving it to someone else and moving on. As my wife said to me, “It’s time you graduated from high school.”
Muhitch understood why no football was played in the fall. “They knew it was right for child health and safety,” he said.
But when autumn turned into winter with no news, Muhitch said, “My wife and I came (to Florida) and thought it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Then came January when state officials gave the IHSA the green light to resume competition and football was back – for a six-game season with no playoffs.
Muhitch knew what to do. “I am committed to these children,” he said. “I just wanted to honor this commitment to this senior class.”
He’s glad he did. The Tigers took the lead 4-2 and ended their season with an entertaining 28-21 loss to St. Charles North last Saturday at the Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
Wheaton Warrenville South trainer Ron Muhitch leads a training session in 2009. Sun Times file photo
Naperville Central finished the game 5-1 with a 31:30 win over the previously undefeated Maine South. The Redhawks won every game on the field but lost a win over Waubonsie Valley due to an ineligible player.
“I loved every second at Naperville Central for 37 years,” said Stine, adding that the end of his career was “bittersweet.”
Like Muhitch, he has retired from teaching. Stine and his wife plan to move to Texas where they are building a house. So this seemed like a good time to step back.
But none of the coaches leave without lifelong memories, including his time as friendly rivals in the DuPage Valley Conference.
“When I started in Naperville Central in 1984, everyone was chasing Wheaton North,” said Stine. “Then hunt Wheaton South and Naperville North.
“The DVC was something special. The competitiveness and quality of each program made us do better. “
“The DVC was our starting place as a football coach,” said Muhitch. “Mike followed a legend in Joe Bunge, I followed John Thorne. At the same time, we tried to maintain the same level of performance. “
The numbers and trophies suggest they did just that.