Head football coach announces resignation

Megan Fahrney, Sports Editor

After 22 years of coaching at Glenbrook North, becoming the all-time winningest coach in GBN history and being inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Bob Pieper, head varsity football coach, resigned from his position on Dec. 4, 2018.Pieper said he resigned as head coach because his son will be playing football at Vernon Hills on Friday nights at the same time as GBN varsity games. 

“For me to be a good dad, I need to be in the bleachers watching my son, so it was just time to step down,” Pieper said. 

The interview process for the new head coach is currently underway. 

Pieper said he plans to continue coaching at a lower level in the program, wherever the new head coach needs him.

According to Assistant Head Coach Matt Purdy, the athletic department opened the application process in early January for the new head coach position. 

Principal John Finan and Athletic Director John Catalano will make the final decision of who the head coach will be. Catalano said the decision will be made a few weeks from Jan.22.Junior Michael Ciss said he was not surprised Pieper stepped down, though he is sad Pieper will no longer be his coach because he has known Pieper since he was in the Junior Spartans Program in third grade. 

Pieper said he prides himself on the relationships he has fostered throughout the years.

“When [the resignation] was announced, I got tons of emails, tons of letters, stuff sent to my house,” said Pieper. “The first team I ever had here, they were sending stuff saying, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Congratulations’ and ‘You made a difference.’ And I only coached those kids for one year.”

Purdy said as he was gathering letters of reference for Pieper’s candidacy for the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, he was moved when he received a two-page-long letter written by the head coach of a rival team thanking Pieper for the competition and good sportsmanship he brought to games. Later, when Pieper received the award, a man on the hall of fame committee commented that he had never seen letters of recommendation so complimentary of a coach. 

In a phone interview, Bill Bellecomo, head football coach at Vernon Hills, said he is happy to have Pieper as a coach outside the program to reach out to and to get his perspective. He has known Pieper for some time as a community member and has been able to share ideas with him as colleagues. 

When Pieper became head coach in 1997, the team was 0-9. The next year, they were 4-5. Then, in 1999, they were 8-2, and in 2000 they were 9-2. This year, the team was 7-3. Pieper has helped 10 teams win conference championships. 

According to Defensive Coordinator Justin Georgacakis, when he was on Pieper’s team in 1999, the team made it to the playoffs for the first time in 19 years. They also beat Glenbrook South for the first time in 16 years. 

Ciss said, “There was one or two years that Coach Pieper wasn’t the head coach, he was the athletic director. Coach Purdy said [Pieper] would always put plays underneath the head coach’s office door and tell him to run them on Friday night [because] they’ll work, and Coach Purdy was like, ‘They always would work.’” 

According to Ciss, he wants his senior season to be his best, but with the coaching change and switch to the Central Suburban League South conference, it will be hard to make that happen. 

Senior Ben Kieffer said it seemed that in clutch situations, Pieper would always find the right play to call.

“He kind of let the coaches be themselves, but when it came down to a big decision, he’d be there, and he’d be someone that [the team] looked to,” Kieffer said. 

According to Purdy, Pieper is responsible for influencing thousands of lives, and that will continue, whether it is through the P.E. department or as a coach in the future. 

“Times will be different around here, but … the greatest thing is [that Pieper] is not going anywhere,” said Purdy. “He’ll be a great resource for whoever becomes head coach, and the program will still flourish because of the foundation he’s created.”