There often comes a time where there is a passing of the baton to the next generation.
At Seneca High School, this scenario recently came to fruition when Steve Haines retired after 22 years as the Fighting Irish’s athletic director.
Haines passed the proverbial baton on to good friend and veteran coach Ted O’Boyle, who will take Haines’ place after better than two decades.
“I’ve built a great relationship with Steve since I came to Seneca years ago, and he’s always been great to me as a friend and leading all of the Seneca coaches as one of the finest athletic directors in the state,” O’Boyle said. “Our relationship grew and grew, and when I found out Steve was ready to retire, the SHS administration put together a plan for me to transition into his AD spot.”
That came on the final day of June, when Haines handed the stick to O’Boyle after a year of mentoring throughout the 2021-22 school year.
“I knew it wasn’t easy for Ted, because he had to give up a lot over the past year in order to prepare for the transition,” Haines said. “When I knew I was going to retire, I thought Ted was the right guy for the job. I talked about it with our former superintendent, Jim Carlson, and if we had the means to do it the right way, why not put a plan in place for a well thought-out transition?
“Jim agreed, and Ted couldn’t be a better guy for the job. I know I’m leaving the position in a great place with a great leader.”
Newly minted Seneca superintendent Dan Stecken – who took over for the retired Carlson in 2021 – couldn’t have agreed more, and the SHS school board unanimously approved O’Boyle’s advancement earlier this year.
“A big compliment for Ted taking over for Steve has to go to Jim Carlson and the board of education who identified Ted as Steve’s replacement,” Stecken said. “Our district has shown that this type of mentoring process really works, and I couldn’t be happier seeing Ted take over for Steve even knowing that he had to give up a lot in terms of coaching.”
O’Boyle surely did give up a ton in the coaching realm in order to take over for Haines.
A 1994 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe and a 1999 grad from Eastern Illinois University, O’Boyle quickly developed his passion for coaching, serving three years at Charleston High School right out of college.
He then moved on to Flanagan High School in 2002 and became athletic director in 2003 as well as a head football coach for the next decade, recording a stellar record of 66-39 including an 11-1 mark in 2007 when the football co-op of Flanagan and Woodland reached the Class 2A quarterfinals undefeated before bowing out.
“My time at Flanagan was very special as an athletic director and a football coach,” O’Boyle said. “I think it prepared me well for what was ahead of me, and that was to ultimately take the job at Seneca.”
The Irish came calling before the 2012-13 school year and tabbed O’Boyle as their new football coach. He quickly led Seneca to a Class 3A state quarterfinal appearance in 2013 before eventually falling to Aurora Christian in a playoff heartbreaker.
O’Boyle also took on the role of varsity girls basketball coach in 2017, succeeding Barb Beck. There he compiled a 81-26 record, including a Class 2A sectional championship during the 2019-20 season for Seneca’s first sectional crown since 2001-02.
“It was extremely difficult for me to step away from coaching to start this last year having not been able to lead our teams in football and girls basketball,” O’Boyle said. “I thought to myself, ‘Why do I want to give up coaching that’s made me so happy over the years and all the success we’ve had?’ But then I believed I could make a big difference and share my knowledge as a coach and now as athletic director to help shape the future of Seneca High School athletics.
“I couldn’t be prouder to take over for Steve and look forward to many great days ahead for Irish sports.”