Circle of Champions Inductee Tom Coyle ’69 Dies at Age 62

Tom Coyle ’69 died at 62 on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.  Tom was one of 18 Brother Rice High School athletes inducted into the inaugural Circle of Champions on April 16, 2011.

In addition to what was published below in the 2011 Circle of Champions book produced by Athletic Director Phil Cahil and teacher/coach Sue Stanley, Tom’s brother, Jack ’70, wanted to add another connected accomplishment.  Jack said that as far as he knows, no other family has produced two nationally known athletic champions in both Ireland and the United States, as their father Jack was a member of a soccer team that won the Irish National Championship.  Their parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1961 with seven kids and went on to have six more while living in Chicago’s St. Helena’s parish.

Tom Coyle ’69: middle row, second from left.

Jack also recalled how Tom was recruited to Brother Rice by freshmen football Coach Frank Klutcharch, father of Steve ’77, Chris ’79, and Mark ’82.  The story goes that on the day of the entrance exam in 1965, Coach Klutch deliberately drove to where he knew Tom was going to walk to the bus that would take him toward Leo H.S. for the test.  He told Tom to get in and he would give him a ride.  Tom got suspicious as soon as they passed Halsted and proceeded west on 103rd to Pulaski.

The following is excerpted from Circle of Champions 2011 book:

Tom was a champion and standout in three sports at Brother Rice – football, wrestling, and track.  Tom earned All-Catholic, All-State and All-Catholic American honors as a lineman before becoming a Catholic League Champion and record-breaking shot-putter for the track team.  He played an integral role in ending Mendel Catholic’s 99 dual-match winning wrestling streak with his decisive heavyweight pin on January 19, 1969.  After fielding offers from many major universities in the country, Tom decided to play offensive lineman for the highly-ranked University of Michigan, where he started at right guard for three years and was co-captain as a senior.  He was named All-Big Ten and Honorable Mention All-American.  The Wolverines were undefeated Big Ten champs in Tom’s junior year and were 10-1 co-champs in his senior year.  Tom played right guard in the Blue-Grey and Coach’s All-Americans post-season games.  Tom is one of only eight Brother Rice athletes who have been inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame.  Tom Coyle ’69 is long remembered by every football player, wrestler, trackman, and coach who ever competed with or against him.

Another story about Tom appeared in the Detroit Free Press, which was also excerpted on ESPN.

Chicago Sun Times Obituary

The following is a letter from a former opponent of Tom from Mendel.  We welcome other such emails about Tom from fellow competitors, friends and family members.  Send to


I am sorry to report that our great opponent, Tom Coyle of Brother Rice and Michigan, passed away at age 62 on October 9. Tom was the best player on the Brother Rice team which played the “greatest high school game” which honored NFL referee Jerry Markbreit ever saw. After the 28-32 track meet which Mendel won after a dramatic last minute drive, Mendel and Rice met again in the Catholic League finals. Lou Guida, Pete Andreotti, Mike Sheahan, and Pat Durkin put in an audible system whose sole purpose was to run the ball where Tom Coyle wasn’t. Result: an 18-12 victory.

As if this tremendous competitor felt a need to balance the scales, Tom Coyle faced off against our own admirable Jack Farrell in a tense wrestling match in January, 1969. On the line, Mendel’s 100th straight dual meet win! Only if Coyle could pin Farrell would the streak be broken. Coyle was not to be denied: he pinned Jack in a dominant performance, aided by a considerable size advantage. The streak died that evening.

As a collegian at Michigan, Tom Coyle and Reggie McKenzie were considered the finest pair of guards in college football. Tom was captain during the 1973 season. He was drafted by the Saints, a rare achievement.

I met Tom Coyle at a cousin’s wedding and found him to be exactly what you’d expect: a very down to earth gentleman, the salt of the earth, the pride of St. Helena’s. The only thing that would have made me like him more was if he went to Mendel.

Mike Foley


Dear Friends,

The  Coyle  Family is saddened to announce the passing away of our brother (uncle, father, friend),           Tommy Coyle.    Tommy was one of thirteen children (SEVEN PROUD DUBS).  Tommy was a proud graduate of St. Helena Grammar School, Brother Rice High School, and the University of Michigan.  Tom was a humble hero and out of respect for his wishes, we have honored his request to have a private family gathering at his home in Tampa, FL.  Condolence can be sent to Tom Coyle C/O Margaret Coyle, 10602 S. Lawndale Ave., Chicago, IL, 60655.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in Tom’s name for Brother Rice Athletics may do so by issuing a check to Brother Rice High School, writing “Tom Coyle” on the note, and mailing to Jim Casey, Brother Rice High School,  10001 S. Pulaski, Chicago, IL  60655.

Best Regards,

The Coyle Clan


Growing up I heard the name Tommy Coyle many times. Not only about how great a kid and football player that he was, but what a great family he was from. My dad Frank Klutcharch was Tom’s coach at St. Helena and at Brother Rice. I remember my dad taking me (Steve) and my brother (Chris) to watch him play when he was at Michigan and meeting him after the game (what a thrill for a young kid). To this day, when my dad is asked what freshmen team was his best at Rice, he responds that he had many very good teams with many talented players, but the one that really stands out with him was “Coyle’s bunch”. He says he wouldn’t trade anyone for Coyle, Panfil, Miletich, etc. And whenever we talk football somehow the name gets brought up. I believe that if you asked my dad who the best football player he has ever coached or watched, he would say Tom Coyle.

The Coyle family is in our prayers.

The Klutcharch family.


Contact Jim Casey at 773-429-4456 or if you have any questions.

0 Responses to Circle of Champions Inductee Tom Coyle ’69 Dies at Age 62

  1. patcleary says:

    When I arrived at Brother Rice in August 1964, I was greeted by two men among boys. Denny Driscoll I already knew of because he had spent at least two 8th grade games beating the crap out of me. Then I saw Tom Coyle, I wondered if he already voted and was able to buy beer. I was used to guys that played football with passion and were frighteningly physically mature (Scott Feaman and my brother Mike Cleary), but Tom was also an immigrant.
    Both Tom and Denny were the two most dominating tackles in the Chicago Catholic league, state of Illinois and better than any pair I have seen since.  More importantly, they were both friendly and gentlemen. It was a pleasure to line up next to them and it allowed me to look better than I was.
    Tom we will miss you. 
    Denny and Tom , thank you.
    Pat Cleary 1969

  2. patcleary says:

    Correction. August 1965. (The leather helmet left some damage)

  3. kingklutch says:

    Pat,you forgot to add that you were also a hell of a football player !!!!
    I thought about Tom alot over the years but lost toutch with him. It’s been
    a long time but I have great memories of that 1965 freshman team and one
    of the best.  A lot of outstanding men on that team with Tom as the leader !!
    As you new me then Tom, Frank or Coach,
                                                     Frank Klutcharch