By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Stillman Valley High School football coach Mike Lalor has added another major award to his career résumé.
The four-time state champion was voted the top high school football coach in the state of Illinois through USA Today.
“It’s beyond humbling the amount of people here in Stillman and around the stateline that sat around the computer and punched in the code to win the state round,” Lalor said.
Voting was done online, with Lalor picking up well more than 70,000 votes from all over the world. Lalor said votes came from places like Arizona and California within the United States. Relatives working in Uganda helped him get votes there, and one vote even came from the South Pole.
“This thing definitely went international before it was all done,” he said.
Lalor said the win is as much about the Stillman Valley program and community as it is about him and his coaching abilities. He said that if it wasn’t for the players and families he has had over the years, something like this wouldn’t even be possible.
“Most of the guys that were nominated, you had to have some long-term success,” he said. “Even when you have that, being in a community with good parenting and good kids, football is a game of numbers. You have to have groups of kids that are willing to take instruction and discipline to become better, and we’ve been able to have that for a long time. So, I feel like it’s a reflection of the community.”
All this after not even believing the award was real.
The coach said he originally felt the whole thing was a hoax. It wasn’t until representatives from USA Today reached out to him that he realized this was real.
“When it first happened, they contacted me back during two-a-days, I actually thought it was a prank e-mail from one of my coaches,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago, I found out it was the real thing.”
From the Oct. 16-22, 2013, issue