Former Orland Park police chief Tom McCarthy, shown at a May 2 village board meeting, has an Illinois football scholarship named in his honor. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Former Orland Park police chief Tom McCarthy, shown at a May 2 village board meeting, has an Illinois football scholarship named in his honor. Photo by Jeff Vorva

College Report: Illini football names scholarship after former Orland top cop Tim McCarthy

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Many area residents know Tim McCarthy as the former longtime police chief of Orland Park.

Those who know history know McCarthy was a U.S. Secret Service agent who took a bullet for President Ronald Reagan during John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt in 1981.

Not as well known is that McCarthy played football at the University of Illinois.

McCarthy made the Fighting Illini as a walk-on his freshman year, worked his way to scholarship status his sophomore season and was a starter at strong safety as a junior.

More than five decades later, the bosses in Champaign bestowed him with an honor.

The Tim McCarthy Scholarship will be given to a walk-on player at Illinois. The first to be awarded the scholarship is Michael Marchese.

“I am proud, humbled and honored as a former football walk-on to have a scholarship dedicated in my name,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The legacy of Illinois football is not only the wins or losses, the yards gained, the tackles made, but learning to continue to strive mightily in our future careers, whatever that might be, to make our communities better and our nation stronger and sometimes even at great personal cost.”

Illini head coach Bret Bielema said in a news release that he is impressed with McCarthy’s career since leaving the Champaign school.

“I was actually reading an athletic department web page article on Tim McCarthy and when he obviously laid his life on the line for our President and the United States of America, it just made a huge impact on me,” Bielema said. “Especially when I realized he was a former walk-on from the state of Illinois, his father was a police officer and how this grew up in his life.

“When the University came to me and suggested that we’re going to name an annual scholarship with his name on it, I just gravitated to that moment. I’ve been a head coach for 14 years, but when I called Tim and told him of the decision that we were going to endow a scholarship after his name and what it represented, it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever been able to do as a head coach.”

Marchese is a Vernon Hills resident who played tight end at Stevenson High School.

“It is an honor to be the first recipient of the Tim McCarthy Scholarship,” Marchese said. “I am very happy to represent someone like Tim McCarthy, who embodies what being an Illini is all about. I am very thankful to coach Bielema, the football staff and my teammates for this opportunity.”

Bielema said Marchese represents everything he thinks McCarthy would be proud of, both on and off the field.

“A former walk-on from the state of Illinois that’s proven it’s not where you start, it’s where you end up,” Bielema said. “And it’ll be a really cool moment this spring to reunite those two.”

 

Waiting game

Saint Xavier’s baseball team bowed out of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with a 7-5 loss to St. Francis (Illinois) in Joliet on May 8.

Collin Woulfe had three hits and Drew Hunniford added two for the Cougars in Sunday’s action.

At 40-14-1, the Cougars hope their season can continue in the NAIA Opening Round Tournament. There are 18 at-large slots in the field that will be announced Thursday.

 

Still in the hunt

The Cougars’ softball team, seeded first in the CCAC Tournament, went 2-0 in the first two rounds in Crown Point, Indiana.

SXU (24-6) beat Calumet College of St. Joseph 6-2 and Roosevelt 5-4 on May 8. They were slated to play the St. Francis (Illinois) in the semifinals of the winners bracket in the double-elimination tournament on Monday.

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