Once in every athlete's life, if they are lucky, they encounter a very special coach.
This is a guy you think about years later. This is the guy whose teaching resonates in your head as you face life's challenges. This is the guy who not only made you a better football or baseball player, or wrestler...but made you a better human being.
Almost any coach can teach X's and O's...but few can impact a young person by teaching strength in body and character, dignity, confidence, and independent thinking. This is a guy who shows you the value of hard work, the benefits of mental preparation, the importance of loving your teammates.
This is GREGG STERNAMAN.
A man who is simultaneously is the simplest…and most complex man.
For 20 years STERNAMAN chose to coach high school and youth sports. He could have been a financial manager, or business man, but instead he remained true to his instincts and life’s passion by coaching young people. The name STERNAMAN became identified as a tough coach and a tough guy. He rarely used his first name, STERNAMAN really said it all. As his years of coaching grew, so did his legend.
Stories of STERNAMAN drawing blood from his forehead as he busted a clipboard over his head “to make a point” at halftime of a football game. Or challenging a football player, more than half his age and twice his size, to a “bull in the ring” competition spread throughout the communities he touched.
STERNAMAN rarely thought twice about pulling a pitcher from a baseball game in the middle of an inning, or even in the middle of a particular batter. If STERNAMAN saw a player sleeping or loafing in the field, he would yank that guy immediately…and give him an earful to boot.
He was known for making his point. And frequently did so through a series of colorful phrases that became known as STERNYISMS. The best of those have become part of sports lore throughout the North Shore of Chicago.
But as tough as he was, that was exactly how sensitive he was as well.
STERNAMAN was known to call an athlete at home at night to explain his actions from earlier that day. Usually these calls included a lesson for that young person, and an open invitation to “try it again” the next day. STERNAMAN didn’t have a dog house. He did have quite a development center. Pushing young people to mature, to accept responsibility, and to advocate for themselves. STERNAMAN welcomed a direct confrontation with any player…and treated that player with respect and kindness.
Even in the heat of battle, STERNAMAN was aware of the personal circumstances of his athletes and tried his best to provide life experiences for these young people. Whether it was pitching in a playoff game, or getting a chance to score a touchdown, STERNAMAN had a good sense of perspective about “the games” he coached.
His players learned to play hard for themselves, for their teammates, and most importantly for Coach STERNAMAN.
For those of us privileged enough to play for him, or watch as our children did…STERNAMAN symbolized what youth sports is all about.
That’s why we tip our hats to Coach STERNAMAN.