By Marty Farmer
Like virtually any teacher or student at Riverside-Brookfield High School, Brendan Curtin will likely experience a variety of emotions as the new school year kicks off this week.
However, for the Bulldogs' new athletic director (officially known as the assistant principal for athletics) and returning head football coach, a few predominant feelings already have been expressed.
"I'm very thankful and excited about being the athletic director and head football coach at Riverside-Brookfield," Curtin said. "Along with others, I felt that I was the best candidate for both positions at this time. There are going to be challenges, but it's important to take it one day at a time."
In December of 2017, the District 208 school board voted 6-0 to hire Curtin as the school's next assistant principal for athletics, effective July 1, 2018.
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.
Since his appointment, Curtin has been busy juggling his responsibilities as an athletic administrator and coach.
In terms of the former, Curtin has prioritized securing all coaches, scheduling and facility management for the fall sports season. Additionally, he's focused on lending support to the RBHS coaches.
"From the perspective of being a head coach myself, I have always appreciated having support from my athletic directors," Curtin said.
"An athletic director can serve as a sounding board for coaches in terms of how to handle given situation. An athletic director can also bounce new ideas and offer a different angle or view of things to coaches. I think those are the two biggest areas of acknowledgment moving forward."
In addition to interacting with the coaches, Curtin's other top concern are the student-athletes. As a Brookfield native and 1991 RBHS alumnus, he can relate to being a Bulldog. He grew up on Rockefeller Avenue in the Hollywood section of Brookfield, almost in the shadow of the RBHS football stadium.
Since Curtin's childhood days, however, the campus has changed dramatically. Relatively recent additions and renovations at on-campus facilities like the fieldhouse, Martin H. Kennelly Athletic Complex (new football stadium that debuted in 2015) and William Dudley Gymnasium, reinforce the school's commitment to all of its students, particularly athletes.
"It sends a strong message that we believe in them enough to invest in some of the best arenas one can find," Curtin said.
Although the duties of an athletic director are numerous, managing the budget for the athletic department is a point of emphasis. Based in his background, Curtin is equipped for that part of the job.
"I was a commodities trader for a long time, working at the Chicago Board of Trade for 16 years," Curtin said. "I think one needs to handle the concept of budgeting like it's your own money. It's important to make wise decisions in terms of investment."
Curtin also praised the RBHS Booster Club, which lends financial support to the athletic department.
"I think it's the strongest it has been since my arrival at RB," he said. "They have great leadership and are in a position to help all of our sports. They have a stronger presence now and have a declared level of commitment among the boosters."
During his stint as the head football coach, Curtin has restored the Bulldogs' winning tradition in short order. After a few rebuilding seasons in 2012 and 2013, Curtin has guided 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.
Although the Bulldogs graduated several top playmakers in Hunter Hughes, Nic Del Nodal and Stefan Giminski from last year's squad, strength in numbers remains an annual approach on the gridiron.
"Our theme for this season is 'Win from Within,'" Curtin said. "It's something my coaching staff and I are fond of announcing at every practice. Our young men are embracing the concept and it shows every time they step between the lines. They are student-athletes who love the game of football. That's all we can ask for."