Shawn LeRette retires after 17 years coaching Mendota tennis

LeRette enjoyed working with kids, camaraderie with coaches

After more than three decades in education and nearly two decades coaching boys and girls tennis at Mendota, Shawn LeRette has retired.

“It’s time for me to retire as a teacher,” LeRette said. “I’ve put in 33 years, so it was just time to get out. It’s hard to give up coaching, but at the same time, I have a granddaughter now, so I’m going to be spending a lot of time with her.”

LeRette had stops at Franklin Grove High School, Fieldcrest and La Salle Elementary before coming to Mendota High School 17 years ago as a business and computers teacher.

He joined the tennis coaching staff as an assistant to longtime coach Tom Corrigan and later took over as head coach with Corrigan moving to an assistant role.

“For 15 of those years, I was with Tom Corrigan. I couldn’t have asked for a better head coach, mentor, you name it. He was everything,” LeRette said. “He’s been there for 30-some odd years. When I came into the program he welcomed me in. He was a really great guy to work with. I enjoyed working with him. He handed the varsity over to me and he took the assistant job, so I stayed with him.”

LeRette said he also enjoyed working with the players.

“The kids were awesome,” LeRette said. “We had some really good tennis players go through, and we’ve had some great athletes go through. We’ve had some down years, but through it all the kids were a lot of fun to work with, and I hope they had some fun working with us. Tom always had a saying that if you’re not having fun, then we as coaches are doing something wrong. That’s what we tried to do for the kids, have fun. This is tennis. This is not high-pressure sports. Nobody here is going to Wimbledon, so just go out and enjoy playing.”

A favorite memory for LeRette was going to the state tournament for the first time when Michaela DeLong qualified in 2011.

“The first time going to state was a highlight,” LeRette said. “Michaela DeLong was a really good athlete. She went in her junior and senior year. That was my first taste of the state tournament.”

He also fondly recalls fun times with the players and getting to know coaches around the area.

“The camaraderie with the kids and working with the kids [are good memories] but also the coaches,” LeRette said. “Connie Lind has been at Princeton for a long time. She’s been there since I’ve been there, and we’ve become friends. Aaron Guenther at L-P. I coached against his grandpa early in my career, and then I got to coach against him. I knew Aaron when he was 8 and 9 years old. He was on my son’s baseball team. So I’ve known Aaron since he was a little kid. Eric Davy at St. Bede.

“There was a camaraderie of all the people involved. We all like tennis so much, and we tried to pour our hearts into working with kids and making kids like tennis as much as we did. That was a lot of fun.”

Besides spending time with his granddaughter, LeRette said in retirement he’ll read, travel, including trying to visit every MLB stadium, and spend time with his dog among other hobbies.

“I’m just going to relax and not have to do anything,” LeRette said with a laugh. “I’m early in this process, but being able to do what I want when I want is kind of fun. I’m sure my wife will have a honey-do list for me a mile long, and some of those things will get done, and some of them won’t. I’m just taking it easy and kicking back for a little here.”

Have a Question about this article?