Nov 30, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) runs from Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Teko Powell (93) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Football: An Illini Coach Gets Some Help From a Player


A coach’s work is never done, even in the off-season. There’s recruiting and camps, and then there are countless other engagements that offer the chance for each coach to put a positive face on the program by traveling and taking on speaking opportunities all in the name of giving back and sharing their knowledge outside of the locker room or field of play.

The by-product of all of these commitments is the sacrificing of time with family and loved ones, and very rarely is this ever brought up in today’s what have you done for me lately world. While the most vocal of Illini fans are caught up in chastising the lack of 4 and 5 star recruits in Wednesday’s recently announced class of 2014, there are actually other things going on in these guys lives that should be pointed out. Tonight, Coach Beckman informed the world that a current Illini player stepped up and filled in for a coach that had a previous engagement which could not be missed, even for his own daughter.

Members of the Illinois coaching staff recently attended the Ohio High School Coaches Association Football Clinic which was attended by over 2,000 high school coaches, and as a result Coach Mike Ward was unable to take his daughter to a father-daughter dance. Instead of Coach Ward’s daughter sitting home alone and feeling left out, current player Teko Powell took it upon himself to show the type of character, and sense of family, that has rooted itself in the Illini program.

While this has no immediate impact to any play that will ever be made on the Memorial Stadium turf, it tells me everything I need to know about the direction this program is headed. It truly is a family, just as countless recruits from this 2014 class told me in the days leading up to their signing. In some cases, that family atmosphere was the biggest reason those players decided Illinois was the place for them.

Eventually, that family atmosphere is going to translate to wins because each and every one of those guys is never going to want to let their teammates and coaches down by missing a play or costing the team a win, just as none of us would ever want to fail at whatever we try to achieve in life and let our loved ones down in the process.

Yes, I want to see wins as much as any other fan, but I’d also prefer to see stories like these coming out rather than the seemingly endless negative stories that somehow manage to outdo each other at every turn, and have been seen all too often as they saturate the current high stakes college football landscape.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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