Former Chicago Athletes: Where Are They Now?

What do star athletes do after their playing days are over? We tracked down a onetime Bears cornerback who’s now a practicing dentist and a missionary; a former Blackhawks star who copilots jetliners; an ex-Cub who became a jazz trumpeter; and more

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THEN Left wing, Chicago Blackhawks (1980–87, 1989–90)
NOW Airline pilot

As a teenager in the 1970s, Al Secord spent his summers fighting forest fires for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. When the alarm sounded, he would board a helicopter or bush plane, fly over miles of trackless Canadian wilderness, and land on a lake nearest the fire to battle the blaze. “I thought it was such a cool thing, taking off and landing on water and watching the water bombers come in and dump their loads,” Secord, 53, recalls from his home in Dallas. From then on, he yearned to fly.

Chicago hockey fans may remember Secord as the first Blackhawk since Bobby Hull to score more than 50 goals in a season. Along with offensive acumen, he brought his formidable pugnacity to the ice—he’s the only NHL player ever to score more than 40 goals and log more than 300 penalty minutes in a season. Secord admits he liked to project a “physical presence” when he played. “I tell people it was the Christmas rule,” he says. “It’s better to give than to receive.”

During the off-season in 1985, Secord took flying lessons at DuPage Airport. After earning his pilot’s license, he says, aviation became an addiction. Following his retirement from the NHL in 1990, he found work as a cargo pilot and built up experience. In 1998, American Airlines hired him as a first officer. Today, Secord and his wife, Tracy, also a pilot, fly for American, arranging their schedules so that at least one of them is home with their hockey-playing sons, ages eight and nine. About copiloting DC-9 Super 80s to cities all over North America, Secord says, “I enjoy flying just as much as hockey.” Then he adds, “I enjoyed the hockey paycheck better.”



3 years ago
Posted by Thane Of Cawdor

You'd think this guy growing up in Gary, Indiana and playing for the White Sox and he appeared as being a small town guy who found suucess and that he would be a decent guy but from all the accounts I've heard this guy is a total a**hole! Jerk!!!

3 years ago
Posted by OneTimeBlue

It's interesting that I came across this article, because it had recently crossed my mind as to what had become of some college athletes. In particular, Mark Aguirre, Teddy Grubbs and Terry Cummings from DePaul's NCAA glory days. Maybe you could do a follow-up story on these guys and other college and high school phenoms that did not complete a pro career, but were still a part of Chicago's sports history. As for this article, I am very impressed and pleased at the way you have taken several excellent role models for young athletes and shown them in a positive light. Please continue the good work.

3 years ago
Posted by left out

What about Tom O'Hara, the first native of the U.S. state of Illinois to break the four-minute barrier for the mile run. He accomplished this feat in 1963 when he ran the mile in 3:59.4.

He also held the world record for fastest mile in indoor track, which was set when he ran the mile in 3:56.6 on February 13, 1964. He later beat that record on March 6 of the same year with a time of 3:56.4, a world record that stood for fourteen years.

3 years ago
Posted by kjbsawb

THANE OF CAWDOR: you are a buffoon. An individual as uneducated (look at your grammar) and uninformed (White Sox?) should not be permitted to post comments to any blog. Carmen was a fan favorite and player's player because of his generosity and fiery competitiveness, among many other great qualities. It is obvious you have some personal ax to grind, and I doubt you you have ever held as much as a minimum wage job. Carmen was the ultimate in class as Cub, and he is certainly all of that as a human-being. Several friends of mine and I know this from personal experience.

3 years ago

@THANE OF CAWDOR...u must be talking about a different Steve Trout...the one I know who pitched for the Cubs/White Sox/Yankees and Seattle,is a classy gentleman and one of the nicest guys I have ever met. One I am proud to call a friend!

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