MOUNT GREENWOOD — Brother Rice High School in Mount Greenwood will rename its field Friday evening for longtime football coach Tom Mitchell.
Fittingly, the dedication at 5 p.m. proceeds the Crusader football game versus rival Mount Carmel High School. Mitchell — who lived and breathed Brother Rice — was actually a Carmel graduate, according to Mike McShane, vice president for Brother Rice.
Mitchell, who died in 2013, "was more of a father figure and mentor to his players than just a coach," McShane said Thursday.
Some 7,500 people are expected for the game that begins at 7:30 p.m. at Gary Little Stadium — a venue that was named for another Brother Rice graduate. Little, who died in 2003, went from a McDonald's employee to a partner at the Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, McShane said.
Thus, Coach Tom Mitchell Field at Gary Little Stadium will now celebrate the life of both Little and Mitchell. Mitchell coached the Crusaders from 1967 to 1993 and finished his career with a record of 176 wins and 95 losses.
Mitchell is a member of the hall of fame for the Illinois High School Association, the Chicago Catholic League and Brother Rice. He was also the first person in the history of Brother Rice to be named an honorary alumni, McShane said.
At age 26, Mitchell became the Crusaders' football coach, having served briefly as an assistant. The Catholic League was divided into north and south sections then, and Mitchell won the south section his first two years.
He also won the Catholic League as well as an IHSA state championship in 1981. The Crusaders won the Catholic League again in 1985 and were a runner-up for the state title that same year. Mitchell's teams also won the Prep Bowl in 1975 and 1980.
McShane expects several players to be on hand for the dedication ceremony at 10001 S. Pulaski Road and believes the game between the Crusaders (5-0) and the Caravan (3-2) will be particularly spirited.
"It's going to be packed," he said.
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