Sports: Those We Lost in 2022

With the 2022 calendar year nearing its end, Journal Sports takes a moment to remember some of those we lost in 2022:

Marv Nyren: A long time Northbrook resident, Nyren died Jan. 27 at age 86. The 1953 Maine East (then “Maine Township”) graduate went on to become an assistant football coach at Maine West from 1959-63 before heading to Maine South in 1964 to become the inaugural head football coach for the program. He led the first Maine South football team to a 6-2 record in 1964 and led the Hawks to a perfect 8-0 record in his fourth and final season in 1967. Overall, he went 21-9-2 from 1964-67. He left Maine South for Brown University in 1969, where he was an assistant football coach. 

Paul Grady: The Mount Prospect native died May 15 at age 81. He was the inaugural boys basketball coach at Buffalo Grove, leading the Bison to their first win ever and eventually 206 wins total over the first 11 seasons of the program. He led Buffalo Grove to the MSL North title in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981. Buffalo Grove won the overall MSL championship in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1981. Grady led Buffalo Grove to 20-plus wins seven times, including a 27-2 run in the program’s fourth season. He went 206-92 overall as the Bison head coach.

Bill Pirman: The man known as “Chico” won’t be forgotten anytime soon at St. Viator. He died Saturday, Oct. 29 at age 78. He was an assistant football coach and athletic director at St. Viator, but he was mostly known for his run as a baseball coach. He led St. Viator baseball to a 343-365-4 record from 1983-2005 as the head coach, but also spent a number of years as the freshman coach for the Lions, helping develop future varsity contributors. 

Dave Butz: A giant of a man, Butz was one of the early athletic stars from the Journal-area. The 6-8 former NFL player died Friday, Nov. 4 at age 72. He was a graduate of Maine South, where he was an All-American football player and strong contributor for the basketball team. He went on to break a state record in discus for the track team. Butz played college football at Purdue and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He was selected No. 5 overall in the 1973 NFL Draft and played in the NFL from 1973-88. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion and a one-time All Pro and Pro Bowl selection. He was recognized by the NFL and named to the All-1989s team.

Brian DeValk: The former Prospect baseball star died unexpectedly July 24 at age 62. He was a standout baseball player in the 1970s for the Knights, selected in the 1982 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was selected in the seventh round of the draft, No. 165 overall. He had a successful college career at University of New Orleans, making the school’s 50th anniversary team despite playing just two seasons with them.

Tim Piatek: He died in his sleep Wednesday, May 25 at age 44. Piatek was a Rolling Meadows alum and former star athlete for the Mustangs, helping the boys volleyball team finish second at state in 1995, while also reaching the quarterfinals in 1994 and 1996. As a coach, he started at Elgin, before taking over Neuqua Valley boys volleyball programs. He led Neuqua to third at state in 2007. He returned home to coach Rolling Meadows from 2010-14, winning over 70 games with the Mustangs boys volleyball team. In his coaching career, he won over 200 games. He was also the former division head for Wheeling High School’s English and Fine Arts departments. 

Jay Payne: The former Maine West assistant football coach died July 24 at age 53 after a brief illness. Besides his time at Maine West, he coached St. Charles (now St. Charles East) in football, track and girls basketball. He was the head girls basketball coach for four years. 

Craig Lynch: The longtime sports reporter for the Journal & Topics, along with multiple other news organizations, died from complications from a stroke March 15 at age 72. He was known as a blind sports reporter, but he never let that slow him down. Highly respected in the area, he also worked as a radio reporter for the Chicago Cubs for over 20 years, and also worked at Triton College for a number of years.

Sean O’Connell: A former Stevenson student-athlete, he died Nov. 23 at age 27. He played football for the Patriots, before graduating in 2013. He gained national recognition after his younger brother, starting Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, announced his death a few days after playing an emotional game. 

Cheryl Roma: The former Maine South star athlete and later assistant coach died Jan. 16 at age 50 after a battle with multiple health ailments. She was a star basketball, softball and volleyball player for the Hawks and is a member of the Maine South Wall of Fame. She was on three softball state qualifying teams. In 1987-88 she helped Maine South softball finish second at state, blasting a double in the title game, but South lost 6-1 to Moline. In basketball she held the single game rebounding record for 16 years with 21. She later returned to Maine South as a JV coach for softball under her friend Emmy Pasier.

John Steinmiller: The former St. Viator student-athlete died Tuesday, Oct. 11 at age 73 after a short fight with cancer. Steinmiller was inducted into the St. Viator/Sacred Heart of Mary Athletic Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in 1997. Steinmiller graduated from St. Viator in 1966. He went on to work for the Milwaukee Bucks for 52 years, staying with the organization until his death.

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Sports: Those We Lost in 2022