NORMAL — The football field at Normal Community High School will be dedicated to long-time coach and teacher Dick Tharp, following a school board vote Wednesday.
The McLean County Unit 5 school board approved the name Dick Tharp Field as part of the consent agenda after a public hearing at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
Tharp, who’s now 90 and living in Louisiana, is the winningest coach in the school’s history, having served as coach from 1966 to 1988.
His teams to eight playoffs, including a Class 4A state runner-up finish in1974, with a cumulative record of 158-50-5 in his 22 years.
Former players and others associated with the football program spearheaded the effort to honor the coach.
Mike Goodwin, who played under Tharp 1985-86, told Pantagraph columnist and former sports editor Randy Kindred that the former coach said he would try to attend the field dedication that will likely occur at the first home game this fall, on Sept. 3 when the Ironmen face Peoria Manuel on their home field, which did not previously have a name.
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“NCHS has one of the most successful programs in state history and much of it’s due to him,” Goodwin said Wednesday. “His influence was second to none.”
Ken Frost, Tharp’s grandfather thanked the board for considering this name recognition.
“His teachings and philosophies really trickled down into so many of the young men that he coached, and those philosophies really carried on in these men for the rest of their lives and had a positive impact on not only them, but their families, and people who interacted with them, jobs that they were in, and the community as a whole, no matter where they went,” he said.
No district funds will be used for this change, and any costs will be covered by private donations, district spokeswoman Dayna Brown.
Photos: Normal West takes third place at Class 3A State Track and Field Meet
Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.