The Joliet Catholic athletic department only can hope that the tenure of its new athletic director is equivalent to the standard set by his predecessor.
The Hilltoppers and Angels athletic programs will be led by Jim O’Brien, a 1992 graduate of the school, as he replaces retiring athletic director Dan Sharp. The transition will be official upon Sharp’s July 1 retirement date.
Sharp has been the athletic director at Joliet Catholic since 1997, with the school winning 13 state championships in four sports during his time guiding the athletic programs. He also was the head football coach at Joliet Catholic from 1997 to 2016, compiling 199 victories with the Hilltoppers and 223 in his head coaching career overall. He guided the program to six of its IHSA-record 14 state championships during his time as coach.
Sharp, a 1974 graduate of Joliet Catholic, is a member of the National High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and East Suburban Catholic Conference Hall of Fame.
O’Brien has been at Joliet Catholic since 2016 as a technology infrastructure specialists and has been coaching various sports in the Joliet area for almost three decades. At Joliet Catholic, he has coached boys basketball and baseball and in 2018 became the head coach of the girls basketball team.
O’Brien readily recognizes the challenge of maintaining and continuing the legacy of Joliet Catholic athletics, which has produced more than 30 state championships in its history as well as countless regional, sectional and conference titles.
“These awards really exemplify who we are at JCA,” O’Brien said in a news release. “Yes, of course we want to win, but sports are one of the catalysts to teaching our fine Hilltoppers and Angels how to win with dignity, how to lose with dignity, and to do it in light of our mission. I am honored to keep this great tradition growing in our Joliet community.
“I would like to thank JCA President/Principal Dr. Jeffrey Budz, Vice Principals Dr. Bill Pender and Ms. Laura Pahl for giving me the opportunity to lead this storied athletic program. Dan Sharp and the many before me have worked tirelessly for JCA. I thank all of them for their hard work and dedication. I am honored to continue their work and keep the Victory Light shining for many years to come.”
Sharp is confident that O’Brien is the right person to fill the void he will leave upon his retirement.
“Jim will bring a fresh leadership approach to JCA athletics combined with his commitment to upholding the strong traditions of Joliet Catholic. He is an alum and has children who are alums and students here. Jim understands the standard that is Joliet Catholic athletics. The important lessons that our coaches teach and the sportsmanship our athletes display will continue. The tradition of excellence along with Jim’s ingenuity will create a strong future for JCA athletics.”