Corey Atwell’s love for football began in his hometown of Geneseo where he played youth league football beginning in fifth grade, continued playing through high school, and his passion for the sport has only increased.
“For me Geneseo football has been the model in every program I have been involved with, I strive to make my programs like Geneseo’s, that is the bench mark for me,” he said.
That love for the sport has taken him to recently being named head football coach at Grayslake North High School, a northwest suburb of Chicago.
He is the son of Kenney and Genendal Atwell of Geneseo. His brother, Tim Atwell, is the athletic director at Kewanee High School.
Atwell has been an assistant coach at Grayslake North for the last two years ago and prior to that, he was offensive coordinator at Vernon Hills High School.
The move from Vernon Hills to Grayslake came for one reason, Atwell said. His son, Nathan, who plays football, was beginning his freshman year of high school at Grayslake North two years ago.
“When Sam Baker, the then head coach at Grayslake North called me two years ago and asked if I would want to coach there, I thought, I’m never going to see my son play if I remain coaching at Vernon Hills. I talked to my family and said, ‘Let’s make the move’.”
From that assistant coaching position, Atwell is now at the helm of the varsity team, and his game will include his son who made the varsity team as a sophomore.
“Nathan played wide receiver before breaking his collarbone early in season last year,” Atwell said.
Atwell said he will have to try to “reel back because I’m a little tougher on him than most. He told his wife Kris that when we win he will ride home with me and when we lose he will ride home with her.”
In addition to son Nathan, Corey and Kris Atwell have a daughter Morgan, who is a graduating this month, and played golf and basketball for Grayslake North.
Atwell has been teaching at Vernon Hills since the school opened 20 years ago and he will remain on staff at that school as the driver’s education coordinator.
His head coaching position at Grayslake North is Atwell’s first as a head coach. He formerly was the head girls’ track coach at Vernon Hills and his previous experience includes teaching and coaching at Geneseo High School, Kewanee and Neuqua Valley. He also was the head wrestling coach at Kewanee High.
A 1990 graduate of Geneseo High School, Atwell played football for the Geneseo’s Green Machine and was also a standout on the wrestling team and made several trips to State as a GHS wrestler.
He enjoyed a successful wrestling career for Division III Illinois College in Jacksonville where he earned a degree in physical education.
In commenting about his new coaching job, Atwell said he plans to pretty much stick with the game plan that was used by Coach Baker…”With the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping coaches and players away from each other, I think that is how it has to be. I’d love to change to what I want to do, but I just don’t know that now is the time with the way things are.”
The transition for the kids to having Atwell as their head coach should be easy and he said, “The kids already know me and I can’t imagine coming into a school brand-new, nobody knows you, you can’t meet with the players in the summer because of the pandemic and all of a sudden you are going to show up in August and go to work for them.”
Atwell was chosen from a slate of 25 candidates for the head coaching position at Grayslake North.