John Belskis genuinely didn't ever expect to be the head coach of the Minooka football program.
But he's a man of his word.
Belskis joined the Minooka staff as an assistant in 2017 when long-time friend Terry McCombs became the program's head coach. McCombs had made an arrangement with the school district to lead the program for three seasons, which would allow the veteran coach to complete a 50-year career prior to his retirement.
The arrangement, however, changed near the end of the first season with McCombs' health decline. Belskis was asked to take the lead role of the program, and he did so without pause. After his health issues, McCombs slid into an assistant role.
The three-year arrangement ended after the 2019 season, and while Belskis was invited to continue on as the Minooka coach, the arduous daily commute he was making from the Aurora area proved to be more laborious than he was willing to undertake. He resigned his post as head coach on Wednesday evening.
"It was really a wonderful situation down there, with the kids and the coaches," Belskis said. "Everybody liked everybody. It was a chemistry thing and the kids saw it. And it was just a lot of fun. It was work, don't get me wrong. It was just a situation where it was going to end this year, and we couldn't work out the logistics of me staying longer.
"There's certainly no ill feelings and I told the kids when they win a state championship, I'll be at the parade."
Belskis led the Indians to an 18-4 record over two seasons, advancing to the playoffs in both seasons. Last season, Minooka completed an undefeated regular season for the first time since 1971 while also winning the Southwest Prairie Conference title, ending a long run by Oswego at the top of the league's standings.
The Indians defeated Joliet West and Edwardsville in the first two rounds of the Class 8A playoffs before bowing out of the postseason with a quarterfinal loss to Brother Rice.
Prior to this stop at Minooka, Belskis worked in the the Downers Grove South program for 33 years, including 24 years as its head coach between 1989 to 2012, during which time he had a 201-62 record with 22 playoff appearances.
After that, he coached his son Johnny at Aurora Central Catholic, serving as that school’s head coach in 2015 and 2016 before moving to Minooka.
Belskis along with his long-time offensive line coach Bob Williams aren't planning on making Minooka the last stop in their coaching career.
"Bob and I are kind of a pair right now," Belskis said. "We're looking to find another place where we can go together. He's an offensive line coach and we kind of think alike, and we've kind of got a grasp of how things should work. We're looking, starting our search today where we can find something a little more local. No, I'm not done coaching. I hope I'm not done coaching. Do I have to coach? No. But I still enjoy it. So if the right opportunity opens up for both Bob and I, we'd be excited to make that change."
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