Pat Pistorio is ready to follow in the footsteps of one of his mentors as the new football coach at South Elgin.
The school announced Pistorio’s hiring Monday, ending a whirlwind search to replace Dale Schabert, who resigned at the end of June.
Pistorio is a 1998 Larkin graduate who played under Schabert in high school. Pistorio later joined Schabert’s coaching staff at Larkin before making the move to South Elgin with Schabert when the school opened in 2005.
Despite only briefly working on Schabert’s staff at South Elgin before pursuing coaching opportunities at the college and professional levels, Pistorio is still a familiar face to the Storm’s players. He is a social studies teacher at the school, serves as the freshman wrestling coach and spent two weeks helping at South Elgin’s summer football camp last month.
“This is a tremendous opportunity and I’m just looking to build upon what has already been established,” Pistorio said. “We’ve got a great group of kids and a great community, and I hope to build off that momentum and keep it rolling.”
Pistorio’s coaching background includes four years as an assistant at Lake Forest College and two years at Harper Junior College. He has also worked as the Chicago Slaughter’s offensive coordinator since the team’s inaugural season in the Indoor Football League in 2007.
Those experiences in the college and professional ranks could serve Pistorio well as he implements his new system at South Elgin under a compressed schedule leading up to the team’s season opener Aug. 31 against St. Charles East.
“There will definitely be a transition, but we’ll do our best to help with the learning curve as much as possible,” said Pistorio, a Southern Illinois graduate who also works as the director of the Chicago Bears Youth Football Camps. “I’m accustomed to needing kids to understand the system quickly, especially with the Slaughter where you might have a trade where a player has to learn the offense in a day or so.
“The guys aren’t going to get it all right away, but we’ll do our best to give them the basics and expand from there as the season goes on.”
Steve Szpejnowski is moving into his first year as South Elgin’s defensive coordinator, and he’ll be a critical member of Pistorio’s coaching staff. The two worked together in recent years with the Slaughter.
Pistorio inherits a South Elgin team that finished 4-5 last season. Senior quarterback Rob Cuda and senior tight end Nate Marotta are two of the top returning players for the Storm, which is seeking its first trip to the playoffs since 2010.
“Because of the time frame I wanted to keep it internal,” South Elgin athletic director Jason Ward said of the quick coaching search. “I thought about looking outside, but then I realized we’ve got some great guys on staff right now.
“I’m confident in Pat. He’s learned a lot and is ready to take over and build on the success here.”