Fenwick head coach Joe DiCanio, 50, was diagnosed with diabetes last March.J. GEIL/Staff Photographer

Football coaches don’t get tired. Oh sure, they sleep — we all have to sleep — but football coaches don’t get tired, they just shutdown. There’s no scientific reason for it. It’s just fact. Wake up. Football. Sleep. Wake up. Football. Sleep. Wake up. Football.

Even when there isn’t a human body around to coach, there’s always something football related to be doing. You could be figuring a new defensive scheme or drawing up a new half-back option pass play, all in your head while getting a haircut or raking leaves.

Have you ever seen a sluggish football coach? If you have, then call a doctor immediately.

Fenwick High School head football coach Joe DiCanio knew something wasn’t right back in March when he looked forward to resting his head upon a pillow everyday. He was frequently parched and alarmingly drowsy. Fatigue had replaced football in his life.

DiCanio, 50, was diagnosed with diabetes. His blood-sugar level had skyrocketed past the normal range. He was a full-blown diabetic, but that label was only good for about six months. From the diagnosis until October, DiCanio coached himself back to 100-percent healthy. How’d he do it?

“I lost 30 pounds, stuck to a very regimented diet, and I received a ton of support from my football players and coaches,” he says. “I was pretty sick for awhile in the spring and this team has been my medicine. They’ve been resilient this season and just a joy to be around.”

DiCanio insists the disease was “self-induced.”

“There are several things that factor into how one can get diabetes, and stress is a key ingredient,” he says. “I’ve since learned to curb the stress and just have fun, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do for as long as I can.”

DiCanio, who replaced Paul Connor at Fenwick in 2004, says stepping down from the head coaching position never crossed his mind. “I still tell people there are things I want to do when I grow up, but right now I can’t think of doing anything but coaching football. I’m lucky to be doing it here for such a great high school.”

With his team emerging from another bruising Catholic League Blue Division schedule to make the playoffs this season, DiCanio received a boost of adrenaline. After giving Prairie Ridge (9-1) a run for its money on Saturday in the first round of the Class 6A State playoffs but coming up short with a 35-26 loss, the Friars (5-5) now enter the Catholic League Prep Bowl playoffs, which means there’s no letting up for DiCanio. But he’s feeling great these days.

“I feel like I am 30 again,” he says. “I’m not tired all the time anymore.”

That’s because football coaches don’t get tired.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...