Portage picks ex-Hobart coach Wally McCormack to be new football coach
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or email@example.com May 11, 2012 3:20PM
Former Hobart head coach Wally McCormack on the sidelines against Griffith October 22, 2010 at Hobart High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2012 8:09AM
Wally McCormack didn’t really miss the headaches. Didn’t miss the drama, the endless hours in the weight room, the media and the Quicklies.
But he missed Friday nights. He missed the excitement. He missed the fun of varsity football.
“I missed being one of the guys, that’s probably what I missed the most,” McCormack said. “The season is long and it’s fun being with the kids. An hour before practice an hour after practice, sitting in the coach’s office with all the guys making fun of each other and having fun, watching the assistant coaches’ kids grow, that’s the part I miss the most.”
Well, after a year away from varsity football, McCormack will be back in that office. The former Hobart coach will be the new head coach at Portage, his alma mater, pending school board approval on May 21. He’ll replace Jeromy Flowers, who left last week to join former Portage coach Craig Buzea’s staff at Homewood-Flossmoor.
McCormack resigned from Hobart after the 2010 season, citing health reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family. He spent the past season as the Portage freshman coach, and was going to be on Flowers’ staff this coming season.
“It just got to the point where, essentially, I needed a break,” McCormack said. “I was tired after 20 straight years of doing it. I had concerns to whether I would be missing out and neglecting my kids with all the time I was spending away. By stepping down and being able to be home all the time, I was able to re-evaluate.”
With Flowers leaving, and with McCormack’s youngest son, Brady, entering full-day kindergarten next year, the time was right to get back in the game.
And Portage wasted no time in making its move.
“We’re just glad that he’s chosen to coach again,” said Portage’s interim athletic director, Kelly Bermes, who said the interest was “mutual” between program and coach. “He’s in better health and his kids are in the Portage system. It was a natural fit. He’s a great Portage kid and we’re thrilled to have him back. He’s passionate about kids, and about Portage.”
McCormack went 56-37 in his eight seasons at Hobart, winning four conference championships but no sectionals. He came to Hobart from Andrean, where he coached one season — taking the 59ers to the Class 3A state championship game in 2002. He has a career mark of 70-38.
The Brickies struggled in his last two years, winning nine games total. McCormack’s exit was hastened by growing criticism from the Hobart fan base.
Now, after a year away from the spotlight, McCormack takes on another tough job with a championship-starved fan base. The Indians haven’t been a major factor in the Duneland Conference since 2004, and have gone 26-26 in the five seasons since Buzea left (Mark Peterson was 17-15 in three seasons; Flowers was 9-11 in two seasons).
But McCormack said he is rested and ready to take on the challenge.
“It was a good, well, ‘vacation’ isn’t the right word for it,” he said. “It was a good break, mentally and physically. I just want to do right by my wife and kids. I made the decision to get out because I thought that was best for my family. After being out a year, right now we think this is what’s best. I’m excited. It was a good break. It was exactly what I needed.”