State Stories

24

Legendary Basketball Coach Chuck Rolinski Passes Away

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Legendary Toluca High School basketball Coach Chuck Rolinski (right in his coaching career & in 2006) passed away on September 23, 2014 in Peoria at the age of 82. Chuck was head coach at Toluca from 1956-90, where he became one of the winningest coaches in state history with a career record of 649-262. Chuck is credited as being one of the driving forces behind two-class basketball, as his efforts led America’s Original March Madness to begin crowning two state champs in 1972. During his coaching career and in retirement, Chuck was the face of and engine behind the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA), which he ran from an office in Toluca.

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman shared his thoughts on Chuck Rolinski, who was voted one of the "100 Legends of March Madness" to celebrate the tournament's 100th anniversary in 2007:

"There were few people who were as passionate about Illinois high school basketball as Chuck Rolinski. While he was still coaching, we remember him as the "Father of Two-Class Basketball" for his steadfast campaign to create a state final for the small schools – the ones he believed deserved a fair chance to shine on the big stage. Even in retirement he stayed involved in his sport, dedicating much of his free time to running the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association out of a storefront in Toluca. He was a bundle of energy and never at a loss for words. The IHSA called on him many times over the years for his help and advice, and he was always willing to assist with any project having to do with his beloved sport.

In the final review, many people work hard but not many can say that they changed the game. Chuck changed the game, not just for the basketball players and basketball towns of Illinois, but also for small schools in a variety of other sports and activities as well."


Chuck Rolinski obituaries from various newspapers:

Bloomington Pantagraph

Peoria Journal Star