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

(page 13 of 17)

« ANDREA JAEGER DENNIS HULL »

VIRGIL LIVERS

THEN Cornerback, Chicago Bears (1975–79)
NOW High-school principal

Virgil Livers could have moped after suffering a devastating knee injury in a Bears preseason game in 1980. Instead, while recuperating from reconstructive surgery, he prepared for life after football by getting a master’s degree in guidance counseling at Roosevelt University. His NFL comeback fell short, and after two seasons playing for the Chicago Blitz in the upstart United States Football League, Livers took a job teaching physical education and coaching football and track in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He wanted to make an impact on kids’ lives the way his former teachers and coaches, including those of the Bears, had influenced his. “Without the mentoring and leadership they gave me to be the best I could be, I never could have accomplished what I did,” he says. “I wanted to do the same thing for young people. I wanted to give back.”

In time, Livers concluded he could make an even bigger impact higher up the food chain. After earning a certificate in administration, he became an assistant principal at Bowling Green High School, primarily helping students with behavioral or academic problems get back on track. When students lose their way, they don’t get called to the principal’s office. Instead, Livers shows up in class. “When I go in and call a kid out to talk to me, the other kids see that and know that I’m serious,” he says. “That sends a message to the rest of them about their behavior. When I bring kids out, I keep it positive and take the time to talk to them about their behavior. And then I give them a consequence. So it’s not me jumping and screaming. I’d rather do it that way than to have kids afraid of me—‘Oh, here comes Mr. Livers! Run and hide!’”

It’s just as well kids don’t try to bolt. Livers, 59, runs and lifts weights nearly every day. “You’d think I’m getting ready for the upcoming football season,” he says. When he’s not keeping fit, he devotes his free time to directing the gospel choir at his church. But his day job is, well, his principal calling. “I could retire in one year, but I see myself going longer than that,” he says. “I love what I do. I wouldn’t do anything else.”

 

Photography: (Livers, now) Courtesy of Virgil Livers

Share

comments
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.

2 years ago
Posted by HOME RUN BANGKOK

@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!

Submit your comment