For Sheridan principal/longtime coach Randy Goodbred, it’s always been about family

‘I’m pretty lucky,’ the longtime educator says

The door to Randy Goodbred’s office at Sheridan Grade School resembles many families’ refrigerators, as it’s covered with painted drawings and messages scribbled in crayons and markers from students showing their love.

“I try to leave them up as long as I can, but eventually I have to take some down to add new ones,” said Goodbred, who has been the principal at the once K-8, now K-4, grade school for 20 years and will be retiring at the end of the school year after 33 years in education.

“I’ve always felt this school is like a second family. I’ve been blessed as a principal to have so many great teachers. They’ve made my job much easier, as well as the support of all of the parents over the years. Every day is different, and for me that’s what makes the job one I’m excited to come to.

“I’m not going to go as far as to say it’s all been roses, but it’s been pretty good. ... I’m pretty lucky.”

Goodbred was born and raised in Earlville. He graduated from Earlville High School in 1984, a member of the soccer and basketball teams. After attending college at Illinois Valley Community College, Northern Illinois University and Aurora University, he began his teaching at Sheridan. He taught third grade for six years and sixth- through eighth-grade math, science and physical education for seven years before taking over as principal in 2002.

Randy Goodbred, principal at Sheridan Grade School, poses at his desk on Tuesday, May 15, 2022, in Sheridan.

He also coached Sheridan basketball teams for four years, Serena High School soccer for 13 seasons and was an assistant varsity basketball coach for a number of years before he was the head coach from 1998 to 2007. His Huskers soccer squads won 161 matches, including the program’s first regional in 1990, and he was named the sectional coach of the year in his final two seasons.

On the hardwood, Serena went 113-80 with a regional championship along with four Little Ten Conference Tournament championships and one league regular-season title.

“To be honest, stepping away from coaching at Serena at that point was still a hard decision for me in a selfish way,” said Goodbred, whose basketball-talented son Reed was a year away from playing at the high school level. “I knew we built a pretty solid program, were winning 15 or more games every season and always in the hunt for a conference or regional title.

“But I thought to myself, even if Reed’s high school team lost every game or he didn’t play a ton of minutes in his first year or two, I just couldn’t miss that. Looking back, I’m so glad I made the decision I made.”

Goodbred coached the Earlville eighth grade team in 2008, then took over the varsity reins the next season for the Leland-Earlville co-op. After four years, and with Reed moving on to play at Monmouth College, he stepped away from coaching.

He said the first year at L-E was great. Not only did he get to coach Reed as a freshman, but also his daughter Whitney – who he was able to watch play volleyball and softball at EHS, then volleyball at North Central College, because they were played in the fall and spring – was also a senior cheerleader for the Panthers.

A few days after Reed’s career came to a close at Monmouth, Goodbred received a call from current Serena head coach Dain Twait, who played for him at Serena in the late 1990s, asking if he’d be willing to help out.

Goodbred has been an assistant under Twait ever since, and this past season coached the Serena junior varsity team.

It was a truly special moment for Goodbred this past January when Serena hosted rival Somonauk. Like Twait, Bobcats varsity coach Curt Alsvig played for him in the early 2000s, and the junior varsity coach was none other than his son, Reed.

“That was an awesome night,” Randy said. “Maybe one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had in my coaching career. I couldn’t have been prouder to see two of my former players and my own son doing what we all love to do ... coach basketball.”

So what, if anything, has changed since he started on his educational journey?

“Believe it or not, I don’t think a lot has changed as far as the average kids goes,” Randy said. “But I think the biggest change would be in a better work ethic, and I’d like to think that comes from teachers and principals as we try to get the most out of them.

“Do I think kids now work harder? Probably, but in a different way. I think we as educators have to find more ways to motivate kids today than maybe you’d have done in years past. We are past the days as an educator that you can do the same routine from Day 1 until the end of the year. We are all in this to make kids better, succeed and learn, and I feel it’s important for us to find the best way to make that work.

“I think teaching in the classroom isn’t that far off from coaching. You have to adapt, go with your group’s strengths, but also not forget to work on the things that don’t come as easy or work as well.

“Kids nowadays have more tools at their disposal with the internet and such. But with all that, at the end of the day we want to instill that it’s still important to know your math facts, to know how to write out, to be able to solve your problems with a pencil and paper and to know how to write an essay or report. ...

“It’s so satisfying to run into former students or players and to see they have a family or a great job, but also that they remember me,” Goodbred said. “To hear them say thank you for helping them through a tough time when they were kids or that I helped them in any way, it’s so gratifying.”