Updated Feb. 7, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Riverside-Brookfield High School head football coach Jason Rech met with his players on Thursday to inform them of his resignation due to health reasons. It certainly wasn’t a comfortable meeting for the former Mount Carmel offensive lineman, who has been playing or coaching football since he was 6 years old.
“One of the worst things I have ever had to do,” Rech said about the meeting. “Football has been a passion of mine for virtually my entire life. I enjoy coaching this group of hard-working kids who gave their all to the program.”
According to Rech, the players were stunned but supportive of his decision.
Rech, 36, who lives in Evergreen Park with his wife Colleen and three young children, had surgery to remove a malignant tumor after the holidays.
“Sometimes life throws you a curveball and I want to make sure I hit it,” Rech said. “I can’t afford to strike out. As much as I love coaching, I have to take care of my health and family first.”
After taking a leave of absence in January, Rech returned to RB and informed Athletic Director Art Ostrow of his resignation in advance of his meeting with his players.
“I’m not quitting,” Rech said. “I’ve been going hard at teaching and coaching for over 15 years, but I have to get myself right and take care of my family. The RB community led by Art Ostrow has been 100 percent supportive and understanding of my situation.”
Rech, a physical education and driver’s education teacher at RB, will continue to teach which will include weightlifting instruction with several RB athletes.
Replacing longtime RB football Otto Zeman two seasons ago, Rech coached the Bulldogs to a 6-12 record. Although the won-loss ledger may have not reflected progress, the hard-working Rech and his coaching staff would beg to differ.
“I don’t have any regrets,” he said. “We played a very difficult nonconference schedule. Our kids learned how to play the right way and worked hard with a positive attitude. We had 28 seniors who finished last season and we’re proud of their commitment to RB football.”
Whether the Bulldogs’ new head coach will be an in-house choice or external hire, Rech believes the future is bright.
“I’m sure they will bring in the best football coach possible,” Rech said. “The football program has some good returning varsity talent along with some promising players on the lower levels.”
As for Rech, a return to coaching remains a probability in the future.
“Absolutely, I would like to coach again,” he said, “but it takes 100 percent commitment and [now] my health takes precedent.”