‘It’s a true balance’ Yorkville’s Jory and Tom Regnier make it work as successful coaches, parents of two kids

Yorkville High School coaching couple Tom Regnier, a football coach and Jory, a softball coach, pose together at the varsity girls softball field on Monday, April 11, 2022.

Jory and Tom Regnier share a mutual career path that would appear to make trying to raise a family double the challenge.

They consider it a blessing.

The Regniers, who will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary later this year, both teach and coach at Yorkville High School. Jory is a social studies teacher and department chair, and the Foxes’ head softball coach. Tom teaches English and is the football team’s defensive coordinator.

Invaluable members of the Yorkville family, they’re also parents of two of their own, 5-year-old son, Maddox, and 2-year-old daughter, Laken. The coach’s life requires a time commitment especially consuming for a young parent. Having a spouse who can walk in those shoes helps.

“Even though it seems like a double whammy,” Jory said, “it gives each of us an appreciation for the other when they’re in season.”

Jory and Tom met in college at Saint Xavier where both played sports – naturally, Jory played softball and Tom football. Jory got a job in Yorkville straight out of college and is now in her 14th year in the district, Tom his 11th.

The Regniers, fortunately, coach sports whose seasons don’t intersect – but did last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic reconfigured the state’s athletic schedule. To get through, Tom’s mom came up from Arizona for the three weeks that Jory’s softball season and Tom’s football season overlapped.

Under normal circumstances, their coaching schedules make things doable, such as allowing one to pick up the kids at 6 p.m. on nights the other isn’t home until later.

“Being a head coach, it’s a ton of work, and my season is a bear. Schedules change, practices change and all of that,” Jory said. “There is comfort knowing that he is going to pick up the slack for me at home and I’ll do the same when he’s coaching.”

That also means that the Regnier kids are regulars at mom and dad’s games – and other Yorkville athletic events, too. The kids stay up late fall Friday nights with Jory to watch Tom’s football games and are at the ballpark in the spring with Tom for many of Jory’s softball games.

“We really work hard to build relationships with our athletes, that they become an extension of our family,” Jory said. “They know our kids. That has been something that has really helped me just to find the time and effort. I have awesome families and awesome players. It’s a positive environment and it makes you want to keep going back.”

It requires flexibility on the family and parent’s part, like on days that Tom will have football in the morning and Jory wants to work out. Morning handoffs aren’t uncommon.

“A lot of that is communication and just having that baseline, that I have this today, making it work out and our kids are flexible,” Tom said. “To be honest, the offseason break is really nice. The winter break, we are both home consistently. It’s nice to have that break.”

Yorkville head coach Jory Regnier cheers on her batter during a varsity softball game agasint Kaneland at Yorkville High School on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Yorkville athletic director Luke Engelhardt said the Regniers are impressive in their roles as teachers and coaches, and how they manage their family. They both are invaluable to the success of their programs and drive much of the culture within the athletic program as a whole.

“Jory is in the weight room with athletes all offseason and summer; it’s rare to find coaches to supervise, let alone pushing and being with them, and Tom is no different. He has something special going with his defensive coaches and players. He is a player-centered and student-centered coach,” Engelhardt said. “They put every ounce of energy into their programs and bring their family into the mix to balance it out. They are a great representative of making it work. You coach because you love it. They are great role models for others.”

The Regniers are indeed a model to show that young parents can strike the balance of family life and the commitment to teaching and coaching.

Jory said it was important to her after she had their first child, Maddox, in January 2017, to come back and coach. She returned that spring.

“It’s important to me for athletes to see that they can be defined by more than one thing,” Jory said. “They can do all of those things – friend, mom, teacher, coach – and still be successful in all of those things. I don’t ever feel like I am sacrificing my family for coaching. It’s a true balance. I hope the athletes, and this goes beyond softball, understand that if it’s important to you, that you can make it happen.”

The Regniers are unique in that they have careers in the same workplace, but Tom said as they progress in their careers, they get better at compartmentalizing.

“There are days, I have a rough day, Jory has a rough day, it’s very challenging,” Tom said. “It’s important to try to disconnect. Our kids are awesome. They keep us grounded on what is important when we get home. It’s to be with our kids, and that is important to both of us. We both really enjoy being a parent. Being a parent is the best job we have.”