Mt. Vernon Register-News


February 17, 2013

MVTHS Sports Hall of Fame: Frank Chornak

MT. VERNON —  Longtime Rams coach Frank Chornak is being inducted into the Mt. Vernon Township High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013.

“Well, I think that it’s quite an honor. Coaching was something that I enjoyed and if I had my life to do over again, I would probably do the same thing,” said the 90-year-old Chornak from his home in Marion. “Coaching has been my life.”

The coach developed an extensive resume` while in the King City. Chornak was the head coach of the track and field team from 1955-1967. He was the head-coach of the football team from 1962-64. He was a football assistant from 1954-1961 and a basketball assistant from 1954-1967.

In 1956, the Rams track team won the South Seven conference championship, ending a 17-year reign by the Centralia Orphans.

In 1960, the Rams won the first IHSA track and field district championship.

Chornak also coached 4 by 220-yard relay team to a fifth-place finish in the IHSA state meet at the University of Illinois in 1959, then a third-place finish in 1960.

That earned Chornak Coach of the Year honors from the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association in 1960.

“We had a lot of great boys,” Chornak said. “We had one in particular named Earl Woods. We were running on a cinder track, and he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds. If that had been on one of the more modern, rubberized tracks, his time would have been much lower than that. It would have been at least 9.7. He could have been competing for a national record.”

Chornak also had the distinction of playing for coach Stanley Changnon when he was in high school at West Frankfort. Little did he know then that coach Changnon would play an even more important role in his life later on.

“Mr. Changnon, to me, was a saint,” Chornak said. “I guess that he was my adopted father. I admired the man, I think that he was one of the greatest coaches ever. There are many things in my life that I owe to him. He was a great man, as well as a builder of men out of boys.”

Chornak was singled out by Changnon early on.

“I was the only athlete that he ever had playing football that he would allow to call the plays during a game. I guess that I impressed him. In getting ready for each season, he would come by my home and bring me the playbook,” Chornak said. “I would memorize it. I would also memorize the blocking assignments for every boy and if I called a play, I would tell each boy that I would be holding them responsible for us making yards.”

After his discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces, Chornak met up with Changnon once again.

“Coach Changnon was also the first person to call me when I got out of the service,” Chornak said. “He told me that he would wait for me to get my degree and then with the first opening, he was going to give me a call to come to Mt. Vernon. And he did. I guess that I impressed him along the way somewhere.”

Chornak also listed those who he deemed to be important in his coaching career. The list included Stan Changnon, Noble Thomas, Harold Hutchins, Scotty Gill, J.D. Shields and Will Lee.

“Those were the most enjoyable years of my life, being in Mt. Vernon,” Chornak said. “I worked with some of the finest human beings that anyone could imagine. Every morning, I looked forward to going to work, because I knew that I was going to have some fun and that I would be around some outstanding people.”

Chornak spoke with an affinity about Shields, who went on to become superintendent at MVTHS.

“He could dance. He could sing. He could play the piano. And he could bake a cake,” said Chornak. “He and I started out coaching there together. We coached the freshmen. One of those highlights was winning every game on the freshman and sophomore levels. One season we defeated Centralia in both Centralia and Mt. Vernon and that was the only losses in that class’s career.”

Text Only
  • MTV-Centralia baseball Rams outlast Orphans

    The offensive floodgates finally opened in the ninth inning for Mt. Vernon's baseball team.

    The Rams piled up six runs in the ninth inning to claim a 7-3 extra-inning victory Tuesday.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mt. Vernon looks to move quickly on basketball opening

    The summer is a critical time period in the development of a high school athlete.

    With the resignation of Mt. Vernon boys basketball coach Scott Gamber becoming official at Monday's school board meeting, Mt. Vernon will look to move quickly to fill the position with summer workouts approaching. MVTHS principal Wes Olson said Tuesday the school will try to have a candidate at the May board meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • Gamber resigns as Rams coach

    Scott Gamber has resigned as Rams basketball head coach after six seasons.

    April 21, 2014

  • Blues beat Blackhawks 4-3 in triple overtime

    Alexander Steen scored at 26 seconds of the third overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • MTV-Flora boys tennis Rams edge Flora

    The Rams tennis matchup against Flora on Thursday came down to the final match.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • MTV-Salem tennis Rams sweep Salem

    The Rams tennis team swept past Salem 9-0 Wednesday.

    It was the opening match of the season for Mt. Vernon after three cancelations to start the year under first year boys coach Randy Knox.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woodlawn-Carmi softball Carmi downs Woodlawn

    Carmi-White County jumped out early in an 11-3 win over the host Lady Cardinals on Wednesday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woodlawn-Odin softball Woodlawn tops Odin

    The Lady Cardinals used late offense to put Tuesday's softball matchup with Odin out of reach.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • MTV-Breese Central girls soccer Breese Central drops Mt. Vernon

    A trio of first-half goals were enough for Breese Central to top the Lady Rams soccer team 3-1 Monday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Claire Ryan signing Lady Rams guard signs with Welch

    Claire Ryan has functioned like a coach on the basketball court the past several seasons for the Lady Rams.

    Ryan, who has been the team's point guard the past two years, signed with Welch College in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Tom Lindley Sports