By Bob Skolnik
When it came time to hire a new athletic director, officially known as the assistant principal for athletics, Riverside-Brookfield High School officials decided to turn to one of their own.
On Dec. 12, the District 208 school board voted 6-0 to hire RBHS head football coach Brendan Curtin as the school's next assistant principal for athletics, effective July 1, 2018.
Curtin, a 1991 graduate of RBHS, will continue as head varsity football coach next year, and perhaps beyond, as he takes on the time-consuming job of athletic director.
"At this point in time we're taking it one year at a time," said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis of Curtin continuing as head football coach.
After doing both jobs next year, Curtin will decide if it's feasible to continue the dual role.
Curtin has rejuvenated the RBHS football program since coming to the school in 2012. After winning just three games in his first two seasons, Curtin has turned the football program around, making it a consistent winner.
He has led the team to four consecutive state playoffs berths. Three of those seasons ended with first-round playoff losses, but in 2015 the football team advanced to the quarterfinals in the Class 6A tournament and finished with a 10-2 record.
Over the last three seasons, the football team has a record of 25-7, and the Bulldogs are 34-26 in Curtin's six seasons at the helm. Curtin also is respected among parents and players.
Coaching and being an athletic director at the same time is very rare at larger public high schools these days although Otto Zeman, who coached Curtin at RBHS, did it for many years at RBHS.
Curtin sounds like he would like to keep coaching football for as long as he can.
"An important part of leading coaches is to continue to be a coach," Curtin said. "I believe the shared experience makes me a credible resource for the coaching staff and will help keep me tied closely to the needs of the athletic programs."
Curtin will be paid $100,000 as assistant principal for athletics and will receive an additional $9,283 stipend to serve as head football coach. As athletic director, Curtin will be responsible for overseeing 27 varsity sports, including competitive cheerleading and pom pons.
"I'm fully aware of the responsibilities I'm about to assume," Curtin said.
Getting the athletic director job was a dream for Curtin, who grew up on Rockefeller Avenue in the Hollywood section of Brookfield, just a couple of blocks from the RBHS football stadium.
"I believe that this is the place for me. This is the position that I've aspired to for years," Curtin said. "It's been a professional goal of mine to attain this position."
For the past 2-plus years, the RBHS athletic department has been led by co-interim athletic directors, Tom Domin and John Treiber who had each just retired after long careers in high school athletics.
They were selected to replace Art Ostrow, who left RBHS in 2015 to become the athletic director at Hinsdale South High School.
Curtin just completed a master's degree in educational leadership from Aurora University. He has a bachelor's degree from St. Xavier University. He serves as the instructional coach for the Wellness and Fine Arts departments at RBHS.
A hiring committee, which included school board member John Keen, interviewed seven candidates. Curtin was the only candidate to receive a second interview with the school board.
Before coming to RBHS Curtin, 45, was an assistant football coach at Nazareth Academy for 16 years, the last 15 of which as offensive coordinator for the varsity team. For his last three years at Nazareth, Curtin also served as the school's assistant athletic director.
Curtin received a strong recommendation from Nazareth's athletic director, Duane Buturusis.
"He was superb," said Buturusis who taught and coached for 14 years at RBHS in the 1970s and 1980s. "He'll be efficient, very collegial. I'm convinced that Brendan will be very successful in this role."