June 4, 2016
Reed-Custer traveled down to Peoria this weekend with a shot to put Will County and Braidwood at the forefront of the 2016 IHSA 2A Tournament. And they did. Coach Jerry Cougill, a Will County legend, has coached at Reed-Custer for some 40 years spanning five decades.
After taking a solid 4-0 into the 7th inning of their Semifinal against Rockford Lutheran, things got real nervous before they slammed the door and started a weekend long celebration of excellence and victory.
“It’s unreal to be honest,” shortstop Neil O’ Donnell told the Kankakee Daily Journal on Friday. “With basketball, we felt there was something missing three years straight. I think it was chemistry. Right now, all of us, we love each other. I don’t think any of us have any ‘beef’ or any problems with anybody. We’d die for each other right now. Just to think we’re going to the state championship. Unreal. It means the world to us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Now, for Mr. O’Donnell, his teammates, and Coach Cougill the world is theirs and they are champions. Braidwood’s Reed-Custer Comets beat a valiant St. Joseph Ogden squad in 8 innings 7-6. And it’s a great story.
Coach Cougill won a state title in 1985 behind the rocket arm of future major leaguer Brian DuBois. This writer had the unfortunate privilege of competing against DuBois back in the day. 1-2-3. Thanks for your AB.
On a stop to Beecher for an interview with Head Coach Brandon DuBois (no relation) I was told about Coach Cougill; and DuBois looked at me like I had a lot to learn. He was right.
I looked up Jerry Cougill’s email address and crossed my fingers. A day later I got this message:
“Absolutely, come on out. Love to have you!” JC
I met Coach out on his beautiful field. It was before a frigid April 15 7-4 win against Westmont. Coach Cougill spent at least a half an hour – before a game – with a total stranger explaining a foggy concept of a website. Not a problem.
If he knew what he had when I talked to him that cold spring day he didn’t let on. He told me,
Coach knew something. He also said:
“There’s been changes through the years, but the kids that I have right now I would compare very favorably with the kids that I have coached through the years.”
Like any great coach, he wasn’t letting on. He finished the interview with a very simple declaration,”We’re just going to do the best that we can and try to take care of business ourselves.”
Coach Cougill and his Comets went to Peoria – and with a few breaks, and a lot of love – took care of business. They’re carrying home an Illinois High School Association State Championship trophy.
Congratulations, and a massive thank you from WillCountyBaseball.org.