New Sandburg coach Troy McAllister talks to his troops on the first day of summer camp on Tuesday, July 5. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Troy McAllister has taken an interesting journey to Sandburg
By Jeff Vorva
Yes, new Sandburg football coach Troy McAllister had an interesting tenure at Phillips as he led the program to two state championships – the first and second in Chicago Public League history.
But, man, the coach’s resume before he got to Phillips is pretty darn intriguing, as well.
The new era of Sandburg football started Tuesday, July 6, with the start of summer football practice. Because of what McAllister accomplished at Phillips, Eagles fans are excited about this hire and drooling over the fact that maybe he can bring the Eagles up to elite status.
“It’s a similar situation in that you are trying to change a culture and mindset to say, ‘Hey, we can do this,’’’ McAllister said. “You want it where it’s not just a dream, it’s a reality.
“That was the same situation that we had at Phillips. We were trying to get the mindset around getting away from the negativity and focusing on the task at hand.”
McAllister was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, where he played football. He played and coached at Queen’s College in Kingston and earned a master’s degree in education from D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York.
Armed with that degree and some college coaching experience, he came to Chicago, attended a job fair at the United Center and came away with a job teaching kindergarten at Dulles Elementary School.
His first coaching job on American soil was mentoring grade school athletes in flag football.
He said that some people didn’t take his abilities seriously because of his Canadian background.
McAllister spent a year coaching an inner-city youth program – the Little Mighty Men, a feeder for Dunbar of the Chicago Public League.
He was bumped up to freshman coach at Dunbar for a year, then took over at Phillips.
In 2014, he was hired to coach at Evergreen Park, but that fell through before he even coached a game because of a paperwork snafu.
So, he went back to Phillips and made history by winning two state titles.
Now in Orland Park, he is taking over a program that has finished above .500 once in the last eight seasons.
Year-in-and-year out, the Eagles have to battle mega powers Lincoln-Way East, Homewood-Flossmoor and Bolingbrook in conference games.
That’s not going to change no matter who the coach is. McAllister wants the Eagles’ mindset to change.
“They have to know they can go and compete at the highest level,” he said. “They have to compete against the highest level – they don’t have a choice. If you don’t want to compete, you don’t have a chance.”
For now, he is getting the troops to buy in to how important these few weeks of summer ball are.
“Every drill in practice and every minute in practice – you have to embrace it and use it to get better,” McAllister said. “You hope that it leads to an improved win and loss record, but over time the big deal and the big push is that it’s going to make you better people.
“That’s the goal of any high school coach. That’s our goal at Sandburg as well.”
The Eagles will host Richards in a 7-on-7 game on Friday, July 16.
Prior to Troy McAllister’s arrival at Phillips, its football program qualified for the state playoffs just once in its first 31 seasons. Here is what the Wildcats did in his 11 seasons at the CPS school:
Year Record Postseason
2010 2-7 Did not qualify
2011 7-3 Qualifier
2012 5-4 Did not qualify
2013 8-4 Qualifier
2014 12-2 Class 4A runner-up
2015 14-0 Class 4A state champ
2016 11-2 Qualifier
2017 14-0 Class 4A state champ
2018 9-3 Qualifier
2019 9-2 Qualifier
2020 — No fall season
2021 3-1 No postseason
Total 94-28, eight playoff appearances, two state titles
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