Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. -St. Charles Borromeo
A few years back, my oldest son, Nick, decided to join the high school football team for his senior year. He hadn’t had football pads on since the 7th grade. Nick played quite a few downs on the defensive line on a Guerin Catholic team that just barely got edged out in the sectionals by eventual state champion, Bishop Chatard. It was a fairly talented team that season and Nick called playing football for Coach Tom Dilley his “best high school experience.” In fact, he later said he regretted not playing football all four years.
Tom Dilley is the husband to a completely lovely woman named Anjanette and the dad to two high school aged girls, Sarah and Hannah. He’s also a teacher at Guerin Catholic. I can’t speak to the testimonial that the ladies in his life would give him, but I suspect based on his clear integrity and the quality of his character, that those are very blessed gals to have him in their lives.
We are smack dab in the middle of “Friday Night Lights” presently, and this made me think about Coach Dilley and what a positive impact he makes on so many young men. I’d characterize him as an old school sort of coach. He’s not afraid of a little volume, but also he has a very quick, dry wit. He reminds me not just a little of a college football coach I knew pretty well as a kid– Joe Tiller. Joe’s daughter, Julie, and I were friends so I spent quite a bit of time around him. Joe was a very funny but no nonsense, super competitive guy, just like Tom Dilley. Coach Dilley has great rapport with his guys and knows how to handle high schoolers and their shenanigans. In his program, a brotherhood is built. For young men, that experience of battling together for a common goal is such an incredible life lesson.
Two years after my son, Nick, played ball for Coach Dilley, my middle son Drew decided to do the same his senior year. Honestly, I never saw that coming. Football had never been his sport and he hadn’t played since maybe 5th grade CYO ball. However, Nick’s phenomenal experience definitely made an impact on Drew…as did the prodding of GC’s strength and conditioning coach. Drew is pictured above with myself and his Dad, along with Coach Dilley (at right) on senior night in October of 2017. Drew was the only true tight end on that squad so he was forced to learn quickly. His experience playing for Coach Dilley is something he wouldn’t trade for anything. Tom Dilley teaches young men about effort, energy, attitude, being coachable, and the importance of having a good work ethic. He’s a man of faith. These are values that build boys into strong young men.
As a parent of sports loving boys who have tried many sports over time, I noticed something important about Tom Dilley at the awards banquets both of the years we were involved in the GCHS football program. He made sure that a coach on his staff had something affirming to say about EVERY SINGLE BOY in the program in front of the entire room of players and parents. It was powerful! At a moment when many coaches spend a lengthy amount of time talking about their own coaching history or the success of the program, Coach Dilley was more interested in highlighting the work ethic and character of each young man on his teams. It spoke loudly to me of the kind of man he is, and was a clear example of how he was able to effectively and positively impact my sons and many others in such a short amount of time.
THANK YOU, TOM DILLEY for all the hours you put in for the benefit of young people each day. Coaches like you make all the difference!
“A good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.” John Wooden