After a long and successful teaching and coaching career, Joe Iorio is stepping down as the athletic director at Columbia High School.
The Eagles’ athletic director since 2005 and former head football coach, Iorio has been a member of the Columbia High School staff for the past 32 years. After another spring season which included watching his daughter, Rylee, help the Eagles win the Class 1A state soccer championship, Iorio, 60 , is taking the early retirement offered by the state of Illinois.
That doesn’t mean he’s stepping away from sports.
“In the state Illinois you get to stay so many years. With the early retirement options, if I stay , I lose money out of my retirement,’’ Iorio said. “As close as we .live to Missouri, I’m hoping to land a job either as an assistant athletic director or athletic director someplace over there. Their fiscal year begins in July and I’ve put in a couple of applications so we’ll see what happens.
“If I have don’t have a job this year, well... we have a farm outside of town here. There is always something to do. I’m not ready to retire yet.’’
Iorio said that football coach Scott Horner will be the Eagles new athletic director.
Under Iorio’s leadership, the Eagles have become a multi-sport contender in the Cahokia Conference. The football program is a perennial Class 4A playoff contender, girls and boys basketball teams along with the Eagles softball and baseball teams are annual contenders in the Cahokia Conference , while both boys and girls soccer teams are state powers.
But one of the biggest highlights came last month when he was on hand to watch the Eagles win the state soccer championship with his daughter Rylee on the team.
“We (Columbia) had lost in softball on that Friday at Jerseyville and our baseball team lost on Saturday so (the soccer team was) really the last ones standing that weekend,’’ Iorio said. “As an athletic director I had gotten the opportunity to watch parents with their kids at state competitions before.
“We had been on the brink (state titles) two other times, but come up short. I guess this was our turn.. Honestly, I don’t know who was more excited... Rylee or dad.’’
In addition to being the Eagles’ athletic director for the past 14 years, Iorio has worn many coaching hats in his 32 years at Columbia. An assistant football coach under Jerry Germain, Iorio was the Eagles head coach from 1993-2000, leading his team to a 29-44 record.
Iorio also was a member of the coaching staffs in basketball and track and field over the years.
Iorio said he will miss several parts about working and teaching with the administration, teachers and students at Columbia High School. He and his wife Amy recently took a retirement cruise to Cancun, Mexico, with several other members of the Columbia High School family which are retiring.
“The thing about this job is that you walk into the building every ay and there is always something different going on, sometimes good and sometimes not as good,. But there is never a dull moment,’’ Iorio said. “So much of this job depends on the weather. I thought we were doing good this spring until we had all the days of rain.’’
Joe and Amy Iorio will be doing some traveling this fall, following the activities of their three children, triplets, Rylee, JT and Tucker who graduated from Columbia High School this year.
Rylee will be playing college soccer at Union (Tenn.) University, JT will be playing in the marching band at SIU-Carbondale and Tucker will attend Southwestern Illinois College.
“We’ll be doing some traveling south to watch the kids in their activities. We’re looking forward to that.’’ Iorio said. “And we’ll be following Columbia High School sports from the sidelines.’’