CHICAGO, IL (October 4, 2013) — New North Park University head football coach Mike Conway was featured in a Chicago Tribune article that took up three-fourths of the back sports page in today’s newspaper.
Writer Philip Hersh focused on the winning attitude brought by the coach, who has a history of turning around losing programs. He brings fresh hope to the Vikings team, which has an 89-game conference losing streak dating back to 2000.
Conway most recently served as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator at California University of Pennsylvania, a NCAA Division II school, for 11 seasons. He helped guide the Vulcans to a 97-36 record, including five straight playoff appearances since the 2007 season. The Vulcans have also earned three straight Division II regional championships and produced the number one-ranked defense in 2007.
Before taking that job, he had left an assistant coaching position at Purdue University to coach his alma mater, Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, which had suffered two consecutive 2-8 seasons. Within three years, the team was the NAIA national runner up.
Friends tried to discourage Conway from taking the North Park job. Even the players couldn’t understand why Conway wanted to coach their program. After Conway interviewed and returned home, one Viking player emailed him to ask why he would consider the school.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy taking the job,” Conway told Hersh. “Some thought I was crazy even going out to visit.”
The 53-year-old wanted a new coaching challenge, however, and added, “I’m sure it was God leading me out here.”
He has instituted tough new practice schedules and training. Although some players left, the ones who stayed have been thrilled Conway is guiding the team.
“In the first five minutes after we met him during the interview process, he made me and the rest of the guys want to put on pads and helmets and play right then,” tri-captain Taylor Simental said.
The season has begun in familiar fashion for the Vikings. They lost their first three games, but played teams with combined records of 9-2. This week they start the even more challenging schedule of playing the other teams in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, considered one of the toughest in the country.