The Konrad Family has left a lasting legacy with Naperville North soccer. This season saw the end of an era, however the Konrad’s will continue to guide the Huskie program to the highest levels of competition. This Feature Story is presented by Edward-Elmhurst Health.
Naperville North Boys Soccer had another impressive season this fall. Securing a 17 win season and finishing second in the DVC conference, behind only 3A state champions Naperville Central. Not to mention a Best of the West tournament championship and another regional title. Most programs would gladly accept such a season, despite falling 3-2 in the Sectional Championship to the aforementioned Naperville Central Redhawks.
But for Head Coach Jim Konrad, excellence is the standard he’s set for the program year in and year out. Taking over the program for Dave Bucher in 2003, now racking up over 350 victories and counting, winning 15 DVC titles, 8 super-sectional titles, and of course, winning 3 state championships, all in succession from 2016-2018. In addition to a tradition of excellence, there has been a deep familial connection between the Huskies program and the Konrad family that stretches back decades.
Before taking charge on the sidelines, Konrad commanded the back line as he played soccer at Naperville North along with his brother, Jay Konrad. And through their obsession and competitive natures with each other, they developed their love for the beautiful game together.
They both excelled playing at the collegiate and professional levels, where they were briefly teammates. However, with the experience of playing at the highest level of U.S. Soccer and being lifelong Napervillians, it was fate brought back to the community that gave them their start. However, this time around, they’d be on opposite sidelines instead of sharing the field, when Jay took the head coaching job at Naperville Central from 2003-2009.
However, family always came first, even when they were crosstown rivals. Once Jay began his successful club coaching career at Galaxy Football Club, they became a tandem for developing a dynasty of the top talent in the Naperville area. Jay then joined his brother in the familiar colors of their alma mater as an assistant with the Huskies.
A pair of those premiere talents would be Jay’s kids, Mitch and Ty Konrad, who both played under their uncle at Naperville North. They both would accept and excel with the high expectations and responsibilities of being a Konrad.
For the Konrad’s, winning is not just a passed-down philosophy but a trait ingrained in their DNA. Jim Konrad would win his first two state championships in 2016 and 2017, beating Barrington and Libertyville alongside his brother and with his two nephews playing key roles. Ty now plays collegiate soccer just down the road at North Central College, pursuing his degree in education.
And last but certainly not least, in the 2018 season, Jim would accomplish the feat that every athletic coach in sports dreams of by completing the perfect season of 26-0 capped by winning a third consecutive state title.
Only a couple years later, Jim would make similar memories with his son, Ryan, who would be a three-year varsity starter and co-captain for the Huskies this fall. Of course, being the son of a coach can have pros and cons. While the father and son duo did not achieve the storybook ending of a State championship in their final season together, both believe the hard work and tough love have paid off.
Ahead of graduating in May, Ryan looks forward to playing at the next level at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where he’ll pursue an engineering degree.
After all the trophies, awards, and accolades that come with success Jim Konrad, his brother, nephews and won obtained at Naperville North, it will be the invaluable experiences on the field with his loved ones that you won’t find in the record books that will remain the fondest memories.
With Ryan moving on, next fall will be the first time the Konrad brothers will not have a son or nephew in the North program since 2013. However, the Konrad’s will continue to imprint the family legacy on the blue and orange in ways that will last for years to come.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Marcel Francis.