Pardun stepping down as Hersey's head coach
Hersey head coach Joe Pardun has always preached to his players that football is a family atmosphere.
So it was no wonder that Pardun was surrounded by his wife Katie and his daughters Veronica and Vivian when he meet with his players Tuesday morning to inform his team that he was stepping down as head coach of the Huskies.
"It was bittersweet," Pardun said. "I was kind of planning it out. It was emotional but it felt really good."
Pardun said that his daughters tried to talk him out of it.
"I live a mile away from Hersey," Pardun said. "The girls said that they wanted to me to keep coaching. And I do. I just want to do it at a different level."
Pardun said it was difficult to tell his players.
"You pour so much into it," Pardun said. "I have loved every second of it. The kids get a little older. You just don't mentally want to take it home with you or have to plan ahead for every little thing. I still love coaching and want to help out."
Pardun, who has been in the Hersey program for 22 years, was the defensive coordinator when he took over the head coaching job in 2014 from Dragon Teonic.
He was an all-conference tight end and outside linebacker for Fremd in 1996. But health concerns unrelated to football ended his career after high school.
He attended Eastern Illinois and was hired in 2000 as a math teacher at Hersey.
The seventh head coach in school history, Pardun was the head coach for eight seasons, including last spring. That's part of the year when the season was first canceled in the fall due to COVID-19 and then moved and shortened to the spring.
In his eight seasons, Pardun's teams went 50-27. His teams were Mid-Suburban League East champions twice and went 24-10 in the conference.
Pardun's teams also qualified for the state playoffs five times in the seven years they were held. In three of those seasons, the Huskies make it to the quarterfinals.
"Hersey has just been a special place for me," said Pardun, who lived in Lake Zurich before moving to Arlington Heights. "Just being here my whole career and what we have been able to accomplish. The people I have worked with and the staff. The program is in good shape. I have always wanted to do that, and we have accomplished a lot of the things we wanted to do. And I wanted to see it pass on to good hands. So, it just seemed like the right time."
Hersey athletic director Steve Messer said that the Hersey football program is strong thanks to Pardun's leadership.
"The program is strong and in a large part it is due to Joe's work." Messer said. "Joe got to pick his time when he was ready. If he wanted to be a head coach for another 10 years, he easily could have. I feel good about that. It is nice when a coach can go out on his own terms. Joe left the program in a good place and I know we will have some good interest from some good candidates."
Pardun said the most difficult thing about stepping away will be his interactions with his players.
"I don't cry too often, but I cry around the boys," Pardun said. "They see all the emotions and I love that about football. But they know me so well. I sent the parents a letter and told them that I love my two daughters more than life itself. But it feels like I have hundreds of sons. And that's what I love about it. That's why it is hard, but at the same time exciting."