Gary Bruening, Mike Eddy and Chad Young followed the same path at the end of the school year last month. All three resigned as Civic Memorial High head coaches, yet they are getting on with their lives in different ways.
Bruening coached CM baseball for two stints, covering 20 seasons. Eddy directed the school’s softball program for 14 years and Young guided Eagles’ wrestling for 9 campaigns.
“It will be a changing of the guard,” said Bruening, also pointing to the retirement of longtime director of athletics Steve Carey. Adam Miller has replaced Carey, the Eagles’ AD the past 23 years. “When you replace four people, three of them head coaches, it’s a big change.”
Eddy added, “It’s going to be a facelift.”
Young pointed out, “About everything in the district is changing from the top down, so the timing is right for me.”
There’s no doubt that Bruening, Eddy and Young will be missed. However, all of them insisted the opportunity was there to hand over the head coaching reins to others.
“I really enjoyed it, but it’s time,” Bruening said. “It’s time for the younger guys.”
Bruening’s Eagles went 18-16 the past spring and that closed his baseball coaching career, which featured a 352-266 record. CM enjoyed 6 seasons of 20 wins or more during Bruening’s time, including a 28-9 record and regional championship in 2005. The 2010 squad went 28-6.
“Winning the regional and getting to the sectional final were highlights on the field,” Bruening said. “But the thing I enjoyed the most was just being around the kids. That was the biggest highlight of coaching.”
The 1973 CM graduate first retired after the 2011 season, but returned in 2014 to guide the Eagles for three more seasons.
“Retiring the second time was tougher than I thought it would be this time,” Bruening admitted. “It wasn’t a snap decision.”
However, when Carey announced that he was retiring, Bruening figured it was time for him to do the same.
“When Steve asked me to come back three years ago, my first response was ‘no,’” Bruening said. “But my second response was to take it back for (three) years.”
Eddy, a 1975 CM grad, sensed the timing was perfect for him to resign. But it didn’t come easy.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Eddy, owner of a 230-198 record during his tenure at CM. The Eagles, who went 10-16 this season, captured three regional championships and one sectional title under Eddy’s tutelage.
“It was time,” he said. “It got a little tough at the end of this season, but it was an honor to be the head softball coach and a lot fun.”
CM’s 2011 team is a favorite of his and that’s easy to see why. The Eagles posted a 30-7 record and finished fourth in the IHSA 3A finals.
“The team was all together that season and 2011 was the pinnacle of my career,” Eddy said of his softball highlights. “A close second was being able to coach my three daughters — Megan (2003 graduate), JoAnna (2005 grad) and Kayla (2009) along the way.”
He plans to keep his hand in coaching by guiding the CM boys’ freshmen basketball team.
“I’m not walking away from coaching entirely,” Eddy said.
Young also isn’t closing the door on coaching again. The 1991 Highland graduate continued the CM tradition of sending wrestlers deep into postseason competition. The Eagles have had just 6 coaches in the 54-year history of their mat program and only 3 since 1970.
“I will miss it, but maybe in a couple of years, I will come back to coach,” Young said. “Right now, my daughters Ella (seventh grade) and Maggie (third grade) are that age where they are getting involved in sports and I want to see them compete.”
During Young’s years, the Eagles had 11 wrestlers medal at state and 10 of them finished in the top 4. David Pearce snared the Class 2A Illinois crown at 126 pounds in 2012.
Pearce also finished second twice and CM’s Chris Williams was a top 3 finisher all four years. He placed second in 2010 and took third in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
“I think we have sent a wrestler to state something like the past 25 years,” Young said of the sustained success. “We had a pretty good time the last nine years and there are some good guys coming up in the program.”
And some good guys leaving CM athletics. Three of them head coaches, that’s for sure.
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