A suburban Illinois football coach was officially fired on Thursday after details emerged showing that he had issued truly disturbing comments about an opposing school competing for a state title that his squad had lost to. More disturbing yet is the fact that the coach earns his living by working as a mental health counselor.
As reported by McHenryCountySports.com, Woodstock (Ill.) Marian Central offensive line coach Steve Spoden was fired for comments he made about Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic High's football players, and the town of Lombard in general. According to the website, on Nov. 24, Spoden posted a comment on the Facebook profile of a Marian player that included a reference to "take a bat to the knees of Montini's football players" and "carpetbombing the town." The comment went live on the social media site just hours before Montini played for a fourth straight Class 5A state title.
Montini, which won the Class 5A title, knocked off Marian Catholic in the Class 5A quarterfinals by a score of 42-27 after Marian won the teams' regular-season matchup by a score of 47-24. Spoden has claimed that the post was not meant to be taken literally and was made in reference to his desire for the Hurricanes to get "one more shot" at Montini.
Still, the 13-year coaching veteran has acknowledged that he is guilty of a significant error in judgment and now must face the consequences of his lack of foresight.
"I made a huge mistake," Spoden told McHenry County Sports. "I need to own it. I have no one to blame but me."
While there are any number of disturbing factors about a coach even mentioning attacking opposing players with a bat, those comments are more troubling when considering Spoden's occupation. The veteran coach who has helped develop six Division I offensive linemen in the past six seasons also works as a mental health counselor in the Greater Chicago area, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Though the attacks aimed at Spoden have begun to mount, his players continue to come to his defense, testifying to the impact he has had on their lives. Marian senior quarterback Chris Streveler's comments to McHenry County Sports were among the most poignant of a large number of emotional feelings poured out after hearing that Spoden had been fired.
"When you think of Marian football, you pretty much think of Spoden," senior quarterback Chris Streveler said Friday morning. "He lives it, breathes it - it's his life and so it's tough. We were all really disappointed.
"He's impacted all of our lives greatly."