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Rochon, Sullivan Call It A Day At Libertyville

Fixtures at boys volleyball matches, the two coaches will step down following the season.

Come to think of it he might have made one imposing hockey player.

It's funny where life can take you. Steve Rochon, all 6-foot-6 of him, tried his hand at both baseball and basketball but he settled on a life on the ice. But after 10 years of skating, he was looking for something else to do.

They took a look at his 6-foot-6 frame and said look inside the gym. And the rest is history.

Rochon and his associate coach, Cindy Sullivan, have been coaching boys volleyball at Libertyville since the beginning of the program 19 years ago. And when they take their seats on Tuesday at Mundelein both will know this might be their final match to coach. Both Rochon and Sullivan will step down following the season.

Simply, their busy day jobs are too demanding to continue.

"I know I will miss this,'' Rochon said. "I knew this team would be a good one. They are good to each other. Eight of these kids are coming back. We know we will miss coaching them."

Evidently this annoncement wasn't widely spread. Stevenson coach Tim Crow hadn't heard the news.

"He was a man who did a great job getting the most out of his kids,'' Crow said. "He was great at training good athletes into volleyball players, especially the ones without club experience."

Vernon Hills coach Chris Curry has a high-powered club this season. He tapped Rochon's knowledge before taking on that team.

"A great deal of how I coach a team and run a program is based on things I learned while coaching for Steve,'' Curry said. "Things as basic as an offensive philosophy to things more complex, like how to handle athletes at different points in their development."

Curry recalled plenty of good times when Vernon Hills opened up its girls program.

"Some of my favorite memories in volleyball are of the four of us (Steve, Cindy, Charlie Mann, and myself) working together,'' Curry said. "We had great times, both in the gym and together away from volleyball."

The team of Rochon-Sullivan team has racked up nearly 350 victories. Sullivan pointed out Rochon was not in this for his ego.

"Steve has always shared this program with me,'' Sullivan said. "In fact, he calls it 'our program.' And instead of 'assistant coach,' he calls me his 'associate coach.'"  He tells people that "we" built this program together."

Rochon noted that Sullivan and her husband opened their own business and it was hard for her to attend all of the games.

"What a tremendous mom,'' Rochon said. "What a tremendous person. She made us a successful team."

Boys volleyball opened up at Libertyville in 1992.

"We had a seven-match season,'' Rochon said.

Eight years later, Vernon Hills opened and the schools split. Rochon took over the girls program at the new school

"That was my year of madness,'' Rochon said. "I resigned from the boys program. It was tough to walk away. So this is the second time I've resigned."

He soon returned to his old team and in 2005, the Wildcats went 32-6. Despite the longevity of the coaching staff, Libertyville has not placed a team at the state tournament.

"We weren't going to sell our volleyball soul to get to state,'' Rochon said. "I wanted the kids to strive to be the best player they could be. We never told them they had to play club volleyball."

Despite no hardware, the two coaches have made quite an impression.

"Players from years past will come back and visit all the time,'' Sullivan said. "In fact, we will be having dinner with two 2004 grads this week. We were invited to one young man's wedding in Indiana and we went. They email Steve to tell him that they are expecting a child or send him announcements regarding graduation from college."

Curry knows the North Suburban Conference will miss this volleyball coach.

"Whatever else you want to say, the man has always cared deeply for the kids in his program and given them the best of himself,'' Curry said.

Sullivan agrees the Wildcats and the North Suburban Conference will miss the former hockey player.

"I think some of the guys have seen Steve as a father figure in their lives,'' she said. "He is such a good role model for these young men. He is committed to his team, loyal to his convictions, and deliberate in his decision-making. He demands hard work and acknowledges effort. Steve has told the guys that it's not about the number of wins. It's not about the trophy or the medal at the end of the season. It's the journey that matters."

Jane Yarnall May 25, 2011 at 01:16 PM
What a wonderful story about volleyball coaches retiring! It's a shame that more people don't take the time to try to understand the tremendous amount of work that goes into building a team and developing such a successful program. The most impressive aspect of this article is that it not only gives recognition to a sports program that and doesn't normally receive much "text", but acknowledges the impact these outstanding coaches have made on the lives of their players. Way to go Coach Sullivan and Coach Rochon!
Andrea Johnson May 25, 2011 at 02:50 PM
It's a good story but it is poorly written. The first sentence (which is an awful opening sentence considering this is a volleyball story) makes what I am guessing is a hockey reference, but then doesn't explain why at all until 26 paragraphs later! The reader has to guess. Then he makes a reference to a coach at Stevenson but doesn't even bother to explain what the Stevenson coach is a coach of. The reader again has to guess or assume. Plus, the opening sentence of the third paragraph makes no sense. Another poor copy editing job in a slew of poor editing jobs on this site Patch. Eventually, more and more people are going to start noticing these mistakes and taking what's on here less and less seriously. I'm not even blaming the author, does anyone proofread this stuff anymore?
kbissing May 25, 2011 at 04:45 PM
a little harsh on all the articles?? Atleast we are getting info on happenings/news in Libertyville which is more than we have received before!

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