Sue Giannantonio was the senior athlete of the year at Crete-Monee in 1975 when one of her teachers gave her some advice that would shape her life.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do [career-wise],” Giannantonio said. “She told me, ‘Hey, why don’t you continue with sports and be a teacher?’ I told her, ‘Ah, I don’t want to be a teacher,’ and she was like, ‘No, you’d be really good at it.’ ”
Giannantonio has spent the past 35 years as a teacher and the past 29 as a coach proving it.
Tuesday’s loss to Minooka in a Class 4A Minooka Regional semifinal brought to an end a career during which Giannantonio posted a 478-352-3 record. Her Warriors teams won nine conference titles.
Friday was the day she’ll more remember.
The Warriors trailed Homewood-Flossmoor 7-2 going into the bottom of the sixth when they rallied for six runs, the capper an RBI single by Megan Comise that put them in front 8-7. They went on to win 9-7.
After the game, Giannantonio was honored in a ceremony that included 50 Crete alums, the presentation of a T-shirt and a cake, and a speech by her daughter, Melissa.
“It was awesome, just an amazing day,” Giannantonio said. “I had a feeling something would be going on, but that was phenomenal.”
Giannantonio calls herself “a true blue-and-gold Warriors fan.” Crete has been her home since moving there from Martinton when she was in fourth grade.
“I played almost all of the sports there were at that time. It was GAA back then,” she said. “We started off with field hockey, then tennis, and then we had basketball, volleyball and badminton. Then I played softball.”
Giannantonio graduated from Eastern Illinois, and after one year at Deer Creek Junior High was hired as a physical education teacher at Crete-Monee. She coached volleyball for 17 years in addition to her 29-year term as the softball coach. In 2010, she was inducted into the IHSA Softball Hall of Fame.
“I love it here,” she said. “I love getting up in the morning and teaching kids. I love coaching. It’s been a big part of my life.
“Softball ... it’s a great sport. Just being able to share the knowledge with the kids and seeing them perform and excel to be the best they can be is such a satisfaction. I can’t believe I’m walking away.”
She isn’t walking far.
“I know I’ll be around in the shadows,” she said, laughing. “It’s hard to walk away totally. I’ll help out with athletics and I cook at the football games. I’m sure they’ll want me to continue cooking. So I’ll be involved. I’ll be here.”