Aurora -- John Kudley's career as a track coach at Aurora High School that began 42 years ago has come to an end.
Kudley, a long-time City Councilman, stepped down as a coach following the just-concluded season.
"Forty-two years went by pretty fast," he said. "It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision to step down from the track program. It has been so much a part of my life and has meant so very much. It was time to step aside and let a new generation of young coaches head the program."
Kudley said part of his decision to retire was based on two other factors.
First, his daughter, Molly Schneider, and her husband, Ben, are having a second child, and Kudley will watch his two grandchildren part-time during the week when his daughter returns to teaching at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
Second, Kudley has been appointed director of the Aurora Historical Society's museum, a 20-hour-a-week position.
Kudley, 67, taught U.S. history and other subjects for 35 years, all in Aurora except for one semester in Cleveland, retiring in December 2006.
His coaching career began in 1972 after he received a call asking if he was interested in a teaching job in Aurora. He was offered a social studies teaching position on the condition that he would be a cross country and assistant boys track coach.
Without any coaching experience and only having run cross country and track in high school (110 high hurdles and 180 intermediate hurdles) at Orange High School in addition to playing football, he began his coaching career.
His coaching career spanned 35 years, but his association with the athletic program was throughout the past 42 years except for one year he took off while he attended paramedic school.
Kudley was girls varsity track coach for 25 years and boys varsity track coach for 10 years. He was head cross country coach from 1972 to 1980.
DURING THE 1990-91 school year, he resumed as head girls varsity track coach, a position he held for 24 years until he stepped down at the end of this season.
"I was honored to have been both head girls coach and head boys coach this past season since I had served during my tenure in both positions," he said.
In 1983, he became the athletic department's faculty manager, which involved supervising athletic events and handling athletic tickets sales for the school district. Over the years, the name of that position changed to athletic coordinator and then was split into two positions -- site manager and ticket manager. It was a position he held for 31 years.
Even in retirement, Kudley will continue to be the site manager and manage ticket sales for the district. He also will serve as manager for the Aurora Invitational track meet, as well as run home track meets for the varsity and middle school programs.
"My wife, Barb, has been a tremendous supporter of everything I do, especially the coaching, since she knows how much it has meant to me," he said. "Despite her own busy schedule, she has always kept score for our home meets, plus middle school meets.
"She endured the many spring evenings when I was away at a meet while she tended to our four young children."
Although Barb Kudley battled colon and breast cancer and thyroid issues, "never once has she ever complained about my commitment to the young people of Aurora," he said. "In reality, she has been my best coach."
"I have coached outstanding young people and have worked with many talented and dedicated coaches over the years," he added. "It has been extremely meaningful to have been able to be part of the Aurora schools. It's my sincere hope that my efforts have inspired others and have helped to develop outstanding individuals."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC