First-year athletics director takes over as Fenwick football coach

Thies no stranger to school's football program


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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

Whether or not Joe DiCanio was either fired or resigned on Tuesday as Fenwick High School's head football coach just three games into the 2011 season, is being left to interpretation. No one is saying for sure.

DiCanio declined to elaborate on the departure that became effective Sept. 14, but he was apparently forced out of the position. "I was asked to resign, and that's all I can say."

Over the summer, rumors had spread that this was likely DiCanio's final season as head coach, though he would not confirm or deny those rumors at the time.

All inquiries regarding DiCanio's departure, including those directed at Fenwick's first-year Athletic Director Scott Thies, were re-routed to Jen Butler, the school's communications director.

"It's a personnel thing and there's a confidentiality issue involved, so we are not going to comment on the specifics of why he has been replaced," said Butler when asked if the departure stemmed from an altercation that took place between DiCanio and a fellow Fenwick coach at halftime and following the Friars' 42-0 loss to St. Rita on Sept. 9.

Thies, a 1999 graduate of Fenwick, has taken over head coaching duties for at least the remainder of the 2011 season.

"At the end of the season things will be evaluated, but the school will not be searching for a new head coach this season," said Butler.

Butler added that it's possible Thies may remain the head coach permanently.

Thies, a former Division III collegiate football player, has eight years of coaching experience at Fenwick — two years as the head freshman coach and six as an assistant varsity football coach. Thies was not willing to discuss DiCanio's departure, but said he's focused on moving the program forward.

"There's a history and a tradition of excellence inside and outside the classroom at Fenwick, and I hope to continue that tradition," he said. "I am excited to be a part of that with the football program."

Thies was a starting running back for the Friars under Paul Connor in 1999, when the team went 8-3.

"My football experience at Fenwick was second to none, and it's one of the things that drew me back to the school after college," he said.

Thies coached the freshman squad to a 7-2 record his first year and 6-3 last year.

"We are confident that Scott will do a great job with the program and build upon the strong tradition that coaches before him have established," said Fenwick Principal Peter Groom through a press release issued by the school.

Thies would also not discuss what coaches under DiCanio are remaining with the program, but Mike Mahoney confirmed on Thursday that he is no longer a volunteer coach in the program. Mahoney, DiCanio's defensive coordinator, said he received a call from Thies last Saturday informing him his services were no longer needed.

"I wish those kids well," said Mahoney, who would not comment any further on DiCanio's departure.

Andy Miller, who has coached Fenwick’s running backs and special teams personnel for the last five years, resigned following Mahoney being let go by the school.

“I’m personally appreciative of everything Joe DiCanio did for me, and I wish him the best in the future,” said Miller.

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Eye sore on 12th St  

Posted: October 21st, 2011 8:04 PM

Old school Irish have it over old school Italian.

Don't get my Fenwick Irish Up!  

Posted: October 21st, 2011 4:06 PM

Laddies and Lassies - 'Tis this talk of Sullivan leading the charge, and to that I might say what Grandpappy Keleigh Seanashea used to tell me, "N? rithfeadh s? liom ? ngr?osadh le fear a thagann as Contae Chorca? n? Contae Chiarra?." T?igh br?ithre - go deo!

Olde School Friar  

Posted: October 21st, 2011 3:49 PM

My gracious OPRF, scoff not at my prose, rather voice oneself on the Sullivan proposition which has fixated and confounded scores over these past several fortnights.


Posted: October 21st, 2011 3:39 PM

...Yea, and whatever that guy said. LoL

Olde School Friar  

Posted: October 21st, 2011 3:36 PM

Lest I become embrangled in the agrestic folly which so many partake within these mesaage boards, methinks it wise to bound the discussion concerning the once nitid autumnal beacon which was Fenwick Football. Perhaps this Sullivan fellow would be a fine akela of the lads who don the colors, but might he also consequence to be a bit too muliebritious for the rigors yonder? One cannot say, but at this point rise must be taken to execute the lethargy in our ranks. I cast with Sullivan!

Who is this Sullivan Fellow?  

Posted: October 21st, 2011 12:23 PM

I was not born in this country (my parents moved here from Canada when I was a child), so please forgive me if this has already been covered in the discussion. Why doesn't Fenwick hire this Sullivan fellow in order to coach the football club? One must assume this Mr. Sullivan has a keen football mind in order to seek the termination of the coach in such a wily fashion, and perhaps he would be the perfect salve for the school.

Parents who live vicariously thru their kids from Timbuktu  

Posted: October 10th, 2011 12:51 PM

Joe Dicanio was on borrowed time the last few years. Fenwick sports are now controlled by wealthy parents that feel their kids are not being showcased to their liking. Scott Thies is in the back pocket of these parents/Alumni that donate thousands to the school. As an example, Scott Thies took over the girl's lacrosse team a few years ago after getting rid of the coach who started the program. He then caved to a few wealthy parents. How do you think he got the AD or Head Football Coach jo

concern parent from Chicago  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 11:37 AM

I might not of always agreed with DiCanio but this was his livelihood and Scott wanted this job from the beginning. He actually told more than one person he would get it. Figures, this school and these people who think their better than others actually have no class.....

pat from chicago  

Posted: September 18th, 2011 10:43 AM

we just lost one of the greatest coaches of all times....that would be coach dave perry always a gracious and gentle man....get over's done!

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2011 6:59 AM

Dear That's More Than Enough, Why so much hate? Fill your world with love! All this over a high school football coach? You are a silly and slightly mean person. Do you work at Fenwick?

That's more than Enough  

Posted: September 18th, 2011 12:33 AM

Ah, now we get to hear from yet another libertard who insists that I pay more in taxes because his economic activity is protected by god. And yet again from the idiot who wants others to thank him for his genorosity yet spits on those of us who subsidize him. Jackasses, both of you.

That's Enough from Oak Park  

Posted: September 17th, 2011 10:14 PM

To That's more than enough- I will happily give thanks that you have no children. I only wish your parents had no children as well.

That's REALLY more than enough from Oak Park  

Posted: September 17th, 2011 11:17 AM

Enough of the Statist nonesense about religious entities paying no taxes. Paying taxes on what? Tuition payments, which never cover the actual cost of education? All you're looking for is a transfer of wealth from individuals & the entities to which they wish to donate, to the state. If you choose to live in a community, by default you support it's institutions as a price for your chosen lifestyle. But because I'm a gentleman who'll soon be in your position I will thank you for your support.

That's more than Enough  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 8:42 PM

And those of us without kids subsidize the public schools AND the private religious schools (which pay no taxes), so "That's Enough" I want you to get down on your knees and thank me. Or you can stop being an ass. Your choice.

Perspective from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 8:19 PM

Dear WOW, I agree that spending 12k to play sports at Fenwick would be a joke and a waste. That's why people don't go to Fenwick for SPORTS. Parents send their kids to Fenwick for an unmatched Catholic education which will send their kid to a great college and give him the best opportunity to succeed in life. Going to Fenwick for sports is idiotic, as is going to ANY high school for sports.

That's Enough from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:33 PM

Dear WOW, Sending a child to Fenwick is a personal choice. The good people that send their kids to any private school are subsidising the public schools whether they want to or not. This benefits YOU with lower property taxes and less crowded schools. You should get on your knees and thank tuition paying parents for the financial handout they provide to public schools.


Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:19 PM

To constantly not be good in football, basketball and baseball and having the ability to recruit is sad. Seems like that Fenwick is having higher standards then before. Or maybe people are realizing 12k for high school is a joke.


Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:46 AM

Winning the prep bowl is like winning the NIT a 4th place ccl team playing a chicago team that didn't make the playoffs. The prep bowl is not what it used to be!

Eight In A Row Alum  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:21 AM

First off, don't add the other sports at Fenwick in with the football nightmare. On the day of the Dave Perry's wake have a little respect. Waterpolo,8 state titles in a row. Swimming, top ten almost every year with numerous state titles. Wrestling had a national champion.These sports are this way because the coaches do a great job connecting with the correct prospects and can sell the school. Recruiting is what builds a program.From what I'm reading,this is the real underlying issue of Dicanio.  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 10:51 AM

I tell you one thing. I wouldn't pay 12k to send a son of mine to play sports over there. Fenwick boy sports are in shambles. 12k what a waste.

All Boys from Hinsdale  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 9:44 AM

Fenwick Alum, not sure if you were at the game or not but DiCanio was attacked without provocation both verbally and physically by another coach. DiCanio did not retaliate. The other coach used foul language in front of everyone and got physical, NOT DiCanio. DiCanio loses his job because some guy has serious problems controlling himself? That makes no sense.

Fenwick Alum  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 8:43 AM

Have we forgotten the fact that two coaches fought on the sideline during a high school game and not just verbally? This isn't Buddy Ryan fighting Brian Gilbride in the NFL. This is high school, a formative period when kids look to their teachers, coaches, and adults as models of proper behavior. The kids deserve more."


Posted: September 16th, 2011 8:09 AM

m.lawrence, I'm not aware of DiCanio's salary any more than I'm aware of what you earn. In my opinion this whole thing was the end result of a few rabid parents that wanted DiCanio out & stopped at nothing. Going to playoffs 5 of 7 yrs wasn't enough. Winning Prep Bowl wasn't enough. The admission standards at Fenwick are high. He had to work & develop what he had. The kids weren't good enough & that made some parents crazy.

Chris from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 6:56 AM

abouttime, my comments are not a deflection. I am simply noting your criticism of DiCanio's language skills and comparing that to your own skill with words. Discuss the way he was fired, discuss his record. Don't use the way he speaks as your only measure of his value as a coach. Those living in glass houses ought not throw stones.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:11 PM

Chris- Have you ever heard him speak? --I congratulate you on deflecting the real issues on this subject.I didn't know we were being graded on our typing abilities(they only teach that at oprf)gfy.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:58 PM

Disgusted- It doesn't really matter who started it. all the rest of it is true.If I were a teacher at that school I would be pissed that this guy pulls down a full teaching salary to monitor the cafeteria. BYE BYE Joe

Chris from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:48 PM

And please tell us, abouttime, are your stellar language skills a result of that high priced Fenwick education? Be careful before you accuse others of being things that you reflect.

abouttime from riverside  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:35 PM

Fenwick has been losing the recruiting game to Naz- SICP-Benet-For one reason alone Their head Coach sounded like an uneducated buffoon. No one is going to spend 12k on tuition to have a coach that can barely speak the English language and could not coach his way out of a wet paper bag.

Carol from Forest Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 8:27 PM

The silence from the Fenwick administration is deafening. All I can say is the fish rots from the head down.

Jim M from River Forest  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 8:05 PM

Fenwick Material from River Forest is dead on right. If they wanted him out that bad, then do it in the off-season. Who fires a HIGH SCHOOL football coach during the season. Boy Wonder gets to take over after they played their two toughest opponents of the season and look like a hero. What COWARDICE !!!!!!!!!

Disgusted from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 6:17 PM

M.Lawrence, the story is the other way around. DiCanio did not attack anyone. One of his coaches attacked him.

FenwickMaterial from River Forest  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 5:58 PM

This has been a witch hunt from top down. The Fathers' Club has been after DiCanio for years and they finally got their way. A Dominican institution should be held to a higher standard & yet here they are, in the gutter. Shame on you Fenwick. There is a way to make personnel changes & then there is the way Durham did it. Do any of you think this would fly with Quaid or LaPata? This was bush league.

mdingleberrry from elmhurst  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:35 PM

who is mr. sullivan and who is the illiterate typing as Tom odonald, could it be a DiCanio? why are you saying things about how nice DiCanio is, didnt he RESIGN? or is he now just a lunch lady?


Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:12 PM

Tom did Mr. Sullivan verbally attack his coach on the sideline of a game ?Did Mr. Sullivan use horrifically inappropriate language in front of his players ,his coaches,his administrators,and the parents of Catholic students? The answer is no.The real question is ,is Joe Dicanio the face and persona that one of the top Catholic college prep hign schools wants to portray to its current and future clients , The answer to that question is also No.

Roger from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:27 PM

How old is this Thies - about 12? 8 years experience and none as a head coach at the varsity level. This will go well!!!!Another reason why Fenwick will never be relevant again in the CCL! Go out and find a real coach!


Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:41 AM

Joe was a nice guy but a bad coach

Tom odonald from chicago  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 9:59 PM

i hope mr.sullivan is happy now that he got his way.Coach DiCanio is out,sullivan look yourself in a miirow this is not a hooby for coach DiCanio this was his job where he makes his living.Could stand tall your a class guy and good coach you won everywhere you were a head coach Holy Cross and Fenwick.parents have to look into a mirrow every kid is not division one player that you think he is.I cant tell you how many ex players come to see coach DiCanio in the summer and help out.

Joe from Hinsdale from Hinsdale  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 6:42 PM

Awful. Just circle the wagons

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