SEARCHING FOR THE HOFFMAN ESTATES RAIDERS

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The year is 1961.  Hoffman Estates is a young village.  It’s only been 10 years since the first residents moved in.  One of those early residents was Bill Pichler, he moved here with his family in 1961, residing in the Highlands on Pierce Rd.  He began coaching Little League Baseball for the Hoffman Estates Athletic Assoc.  At the end of the season, while the boys were playing a little football in his backyard, he began to dream of starting a youth football program.  After doing some research, he discovered Pop Warner Football and the Chicago Jr. Suburban Football League.  He approached the H.E.A.A. with a request to sponsor a youth football program.  With their approval in hand, details were worked out for fields and budgets and applications were completed.  The new team would be for boys 11 – 13, under 115 pounds and it would be called the “Hoffman Raiders”.Hoffmancommandoes1965

In the fall of 1962 more than 100 boys tried out for the team.  33 were selected for that first Raiders team.  They went on to become league champions that first year.  They finished second in 1963. In 1964 the Hoffman Commandos, for boys 9 – 11 under 100 pounds, was formed.

The year is 1965.  It would be a year to remember. The Raiders and Commandos finished their seasons undefeated.  According to Coach Pichler, “no other teams had ever won both divisions in the same year.  Pop Warner Football International named Brian McGlory of the Commandos to the All American team selected from all over the country. A few years later Bob Dolan, a Raider, was also selected as an All American”.

In October, the teams were invited to play in the Milk Bowl in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Excitement spread across the community after Mayor Roy Jenkins declared November Hoffman Football Month, the biggest challenge was raising the $4000 to send the teams to Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Moms sold fudge & brownies, the kids sold booster stickers and the Dads were selling tickets to the invitational dance (more than 100 attended)Hoffman Estates Raiders

All the hard work paid off, the teams would be off to Daytona Beach.  Coached by Bill Pichler and assistant coaches Bob Jones and Louis Dalitto, both teams beat the Daytona Bulldogs.  The fans at home were able to hear the play by play calls at Fairview School where a special direct line was set up along with amplifiers for the radio broadcast from Daytona Beach.  The final scores were the Hoffman Raiders 21 – Daytona Bulldogs 0, the Hoffman Commandos 13- Daytona Bulldogs 7.  Hundreds of fans greeted the returning champs at O’Hara Airport; a police escort took the triumphant teams through the village and past village hall.pop warner football 2

The young men, now much older, have never forgotten that very special year of 1965. Coach Pichler never forgot it either.  Although he moved away to California in 1971 to pursue a very successful business career, he always remembered that year and those boys.  Early this year he contacted Doug Schultz, Community Relations Coordinator, asking for help in returning several letters and pictures he’d saved from three of the Raiders, Mike Osterman, John Clausen and Tom Whitney. Doug asked if I could help and I located Mike but haven’t found the other two. Coach Pichler said “I look back upon my football days in Hoffman as some of the happiest in my life.  I would so appreciate your help in returning these mementos back to the boys who gave me such a gift.”  Family or friends in the area may still be able to locate them for me.  Let me know. I’d be so happy to find them, so would Coach Pichler.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
eagle2064@comcast.net

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