Preps Talk

Remembering Evanston's Dobbie Burton

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Remembering Evanston's Dobbie Burton

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011Posted: 6:35 p.m.

By Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

In 38 years as Evanston's boys swimming coach, Dobbie Burton won 89 percent of his dual meets and four national championships and produced 25 state trophy-winning teams and 200 All-Americans, including 1956 Olympian Dick Hanley.

An impressive resume for a man who accepted the job in 1947 even though the school didn't have a swimming pool at the time, a man whose former athletes still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Burton, not coach.

"He had a lot of good qualities but motivation was best," Hanley recalled. "I played football through my sophomore year but he convinced me that with the Olympics coming on that I would be better off in swimming. He'd write down the times he expected me to do. It seemed to be way above what I could do. But I would do what he predicted."

William Dobson "Dobbie" Burton, who coached at Evanston from 1947 to 1985, died last Thursday. He was 92. On March 11, his birthday, the swimming pool that was built in 1958 was re-dedicated in his name.

Burton was one of the pioneers of high school swimming in Illinois, an icon who loved to compete against the state's other nationally recognized coaches, New Trier's Dave Robertson and Hinsdale Central's Don Watson. He dominated in the 1950s, winning five state championships and four mythical national titles.

"He was a tremendous influence," said Hanley, who won four state individual titles from 1953-55, set national high school records in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle, won one NCAA title and four AAU titles at Michigan, set one world record and was a silver medalist in the 1956 Olympics.

"He said all the time: 'You have to pay the price.' He could get you up to compete. The ones who didn't compete well? He called them 'ham and eggers.' He said you were no better than your mind and he got your mind where it was supposed to be. You could be the best trained athlete but if you didn't think positively, you won't do it."

The list of other swimmers who earned All-America recognition under Burton's guidance included Tom Alderson, Dave Burgess, Ed Cole, Mike Farmer, Tony Follett, Peter Hammer, Deed Hardin, Jacob Johnson, Doug Lennox, Sean McCaffrey, Skip McCallum, Jeff Moore, Dave Pemberton, Tom Pringle, Tom Schwarten, Terry and Tim Silkaitis, Eric Skalinder, Peter Skoglund, Bill Stiles and Bill Swisher. His son, Patrick, competed on the 1981-83 teams.

Burton, who was inducted into the Illinois Swimming Hall of Fame in 1969, produced five NCAA Division I national champions, a dual meet record of 418-54, a dozen top 10 national finishes, 17 Suburban League championship teams and six Central Suburban League winners. Aside from his five state titles, he had 11 runners up and nine third-place finishers.

"He was a kind and benevolent disciplinarian. He worked us as hard as he possibly could without being mean. But he was fair. He knew when to encourage and berate. He was our best friend," said Burgess, a member of the class of 1958.

"In those days, he was in favor of having as many kids as possible on the team. There was always so much competition. You always had somebody chasing you. That was part of the motivation. Everybody wanted to be on the swimming team, part of the success."

Stiles, a member of the class of 1959, said Burton's success had nothing to do with his record. He recalls a story that he frequently relates to people about Tom "Hoot" Gibson, a personally troubled and mentally challenged youngster who was a member of the 1959-61 teams.

"Gibson came out for the team and (Burton) got into his head that he could be an outstanding swimmer," Stiles said. "He made him the leader of the team. He told the rest of the team: 'You think too much. If you do what Hoot does, you'll be successful.' He went on to win the 400-yard freestyle (and three seconds) in the state meet.

"In four years, he took someone who you wouldn't think could be successful and made him a state champion. Mr. Burton did that with a lot of people. He was a great motivator. A lot of what he accomplished with his kids had nothing to do with swimming but a lot to do with motivation. He was an inspiration to all of us."

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball

Highlights

Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.