This would be quite a twist.
What are the odds of the person starting a hall of fame ending up in it?
That’s exactly what appears will happen for Wheeling assistant/principal student activities Steve May, who has been in his role at the District 214 school for the past 19 years.
Here’s another twist.
What would have been the odds of May, after a 35-year career in education, spending his final months before retiring working from home?
It’s probably not the most ideal situation, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s how May’s final prep season is concluding.
Obviously, May wished he could have been walking the campus quite a bit this spring, teaching the ropes to his successor, Don Rowley.
“I was planning on working with Don every day,” May said. “I was hoping to do a lot of things to prepare him for next year, kind of handing things over to him and making the transition as smooth as possible.”
Instead, there have been plenty of Zoom meetings and phone chats with Rowley, the school’s former girls athletic director.
“We’re talking every day,” May said. “He’s going to be fine. But it would have been much easier to be at school. You would be doing all the little things you need to do to get ready for a school year, things that were just second nature for me because I’d been there so long.”
“Steve’s been great,” Rowley said. “I’m sure once we’re able to see each other again he’ll continue to help me with the transition.
“But yes, this is a tough way for him to go out.”
May goes out after 19 very productive years at Wheeling.
Twice the recipient of the principal’s award, May also created the Wheeling Athletic Hall of Fame in the 2006-07 school year and a student spirit group called “The Cat Pack.”
May has served on the IHSA Athletic Advisory Board and the ad hoc transfer student policy committee.
May has been Illinois Athletic Directors Association president, registration chair and division representative.
“I think I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve had with the athletic directors around the state and the coaches I’ve worked with at Wheeling,” May said.
“Everything I tried to do was to make the experience as good as possible for the coaches and athletes at Wheeling and I think people had a great experience at Wheeling. I think our programs do a lot for kids.”
May was instrumental in the development of the Hispanic Athletic Council which encourages Hispanic students to become leaders.
He served on the committee that discussed synthetic turf and decided to partner with the Wheeling Park District to share a stadium in order to serve the entire community.
“No matter the situations, Steve never got too high or too low,” said Rowley. “He was always able to keep a level head. What I admire most about him is his ability to handle things without getting emotional or over reacting. He’s able to keep an even keel to handle any situation that came his way.
“In this job you’re handling millions of questions and putting out small fires every day. I’d say his greatest attribute is that he is a very good problem solver. He is very intelligent. When tough situations come up, he always has an idea right away on how to solve the problem.”
Prior to his days at Wheeling, May taught English and coached for a year at Crystal Lake Central High School.
He then spent the next eight years at Winston Park Junior High in Palatine where he was the girls and boys basketball and wrestling coach.
In 1996, he became the dean of students and a basketball coach at Prospect High School.
Suffice to say, May has put in quite a bit of time bettering the education for students in the Northwest suburbs.
That was always his top priority, not himself.
“I don’t want the end of the year to be about me,” he said. “I feel horrible for the kids who had their spring taken from them. I feel bad for the kids missing graduation. We were so excited to give out the caps and gowns and then no prom.”
May will miss seeing his last sports season.
“I was looking forward to seeing every spring team one last time, ” he said. “For example, I’ve gone to watch our boys volleyball team play at the Streamwood tournament for all 19 years.
“For the past four or five years I have volunteered to work at our girls track sectional. I was looking forward to doing all those things one last time.
“I feel so bad for all these kids really looking forward to one last year of sports and being with their friends. Their coaches were all geared up and ready to go. And then to have it all go away is horrible.”
But he won’t miss a last farewell party.
“It’s not about me personally,” said May, who along with his wife Mindy have a daughter Francie (eighth grade) and son James (sixth grade).
“A month ago I certainly didn’t anticipate walking out of Wheeling and not saying goodbye and thanks to quite a few people. I’m just fading into the sunset which is just fine. When things get back to normal, I’ll be around. I live ten minutes away. I didn’t want to go out with any fanfare anyway.”
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