Former Normal Community football coach Dick Tharp has died

Dick Tharp was honored last week as Normal Community named the football field in his honor. (Facebook/McLean County U5)

By Neil Doyle

NORMAL – Former Normal Community football coach Dick Tharp, the school’s winningest coach with 158 victories, passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.

Unit 5 made the announcement Wednesday in a social media post.

Tharp was in attendance last week as the school renamed the football field in his honor. He spoke with our news partner HOI ABC.

“It’s surprising, humbling, fantastic,” Tharp said of the field being named in his honor. “I can’t describe it. It’s just, it’s something that all football coaches would love to receive and I think it’s the greatest honor that a coach can receive.”

Current Ironmen head coach Jason Drengwitz said it was a special night for the Normal Community program.

“All week we talked about it being a big night for Ironmen football,” said Drengwitz. “Our kids didn’t know a whole lot about coach Tharp, but we tried to inform them about his time in the program. I thought it was great on Friday seeing all the alumni that were there and all of the former players.”

Tharp coached the Ironmen from 1968 to 1988, and led the program to eight playoff appearances, including a 1974 playoff run in which the Ironmen were runners-up in Class 4A.

Neil Doyle can be reached at neil.doyle@cumulus.com

Blogs

Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…