After 20 years of teaching and coaching soccer at Gibault High in Waterloo, Jim Corsi retired last spring.
But there is no way he could not stay away from the game he loves.
Corsi, who was inducted into the Illinois State High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009, is working this fall with the O’Fallon Panthers and coach Jason Turkington.
“It’s nothing official. Jason called and asked if I’d be willing to help and I accepted,’’ Corsi said. “We’re still figuring things out, but mainly, I’ll probably focus on scouting.’’
Added Turkington: “We’ve known each other a long time and we’ve become good friends. I have great respect for him as a coach and his record speaks for itself. He’s a great guy to bounce ideas off and I think having another set of eyes around will definitely benefit our program.’’
This figures to be a big year for the Panthers, a senior-dominated squad ranked fifth among stlhighschoolsports.com large schools to open the season. O’Fallon opened its 2011 campaign with a 3-1 victory over Triad, rallying from a 1-0 halftime deficit.
“This is a very talented team,’’ Corsi said. “I know Jason’s high on them and they come into the season with some high expectations.’’
Corsi knows all about expectations _ and results. At Gibault, he helped build one of the strongest small-school programs in the region. The Hawks made eight state trips _ seven with the boys and one with the girls _ during the 2000s and won boys’ championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Corsi, who taught history at Gibault, helped prepare his teams for the playoffs by playing a rugged regular-season schedule. Last year, for example, the Hawks’ faced big-school powers SLUH, Vianney, Chaminade, Edwardsville, O’Fallon, Collinsville, Quincy Notre Dame and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin.
“I never focused as much on the wins and losses as I did with trying to get my teams to improve,’’ Corsi said. “I wanted my teams to be as prepared as possible for anything they might face and I always felt playing the best helped our guys take their game to a higher level.
“And it seemed to work because we always seemed to be ready come playoff time.’’
According to the Illinois High School Association, Corsi’s had a career record of 275-177-34 with the boys and 140-140-12 with the girls.
In addition to the three state titles, the Gibault boys finished second in 2009, third in 2001 and 2008 and fourth in 2002. The Hawk girls were state runners-up in 2007.
Corsi was soccer ambassador for the region. He frequented games on both sides of the river and supported area players from all schools in voting for All-Metro and All-State recognition.
“I always tried to be fair, whether I was talking about one of my players or someone else’s,’’ he said.
A retired Air Force colonel who finished his military career at Scott Air Force Base, Corsi was first introduced to soccer as a high-schooler in Massachusetts and fueled his passion for the game during a nine-year stay in Germany.
“I started a team of GIs that played in a local league, but there was one condition: I agreed to take care of the paperwork as long as I also got a chance to play,’’ he kidded.
Corsi received a medical scare in February 2006 when he collapsed following a workout at the YMCA.
“I just ran three miles when my heart just stopped,’’ he said. “Lucky for me, one of the other people there that day was a nurse who worked for Arch Helicopter. He performed CPR and brought me back with an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).
“When you go through something like that, it definitely changes your perspective on life. I’m adjusting to retirement, sleeping in a little later and relaxing a little more. I definitely miss teaching and coaching and that’s probably the main reason I agreed to help Jason. Soccer had been such a big part of my life; I love the game and I want to stay a part of it.’’