Bringing Team Spirit Full Circle

By Marcia Faye


hicago is a sports mecca, but its fervent fan base isn’t exclusive to pro teams. The Illinois Tech Scarlet Hawks men’s and women’s sports programs have their faithful Scarlet Fever student cheering section, and through the new Coach for a Day (CFAD) engagement program are adding faculty and staff members to the fan squad.

Bringing Team Spirit Full Circle
Faculty member and Deputy Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Ron Landis [center] with Assistant Men's Soccer Coach Trevor Wheeler [left] and Head Men's Soccer Coach Marc Colwell [right], on Stuart Field on Mies Campus.
Photo: Ron Landis

“Our goal has been to connect athletics and academics,” says Athletics Director Joe Hakes, who developed the idea with Christopher White, vice provost for research and academic affairs. “The coaches, in recruiting student-athletes, have to know something about the academic curriculum. We’re hopeful that faculty and staff will gain insight about what coaches and athletes do on a game night, how good our athletes are, and why they participate in sports.”

Hakes says that honorary coaches meet with the coach of the sport they are interested in to discuss their Coach for a Day game plan, including when practice is held, proper game protocol, and even appropriate coaching attire. White, who has been an honorary coach in four different sports including baseball, had a unique thrill when he was given a uniform to wear in the Guaranteed Rate Field dugout during this year’s South Side College Classic between Illinois Tech and the University of Chicago. 

Lewis College of Human Sciences Dean Christine Himes attended a 6 a.m. practice at Keating Sports Center with the women’s basketball team in addition to observing a pregame practice and pregame talk. She also sat on the courtside bench during the game.

“I’ve always admired student-athletes. I’m amazed at their ability to juggle classes, practices, homework, and games,” says Himes, noting that she so felt a part of the team that she attended another game a few weeks later. “Being a Coach for a Day helped me better understand the time and effort students put into their sport. I did not participate in high school or college athletics, so I was surprised by how much information the coach gave the athletes and how many things there are to remember during the game. Being on the bench gave me a whole new perspective on students and student life.”