WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Where Are They Now? Rich Suchanuk

2013-01-28T18:00:00Z 2014-03-27T22:14:55Z Where Are They Now? Rich SuchanukMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
January 28, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Former Bishop Noll standout Rich Suchanuk wanted to make a difference in his community.

The Times 1977 Athlete of the Year grew up in East Chicago's historic Marktown neighborhood. Suchanuk left private business in 1991 to become an East Chicago police officer, and now is a lieutenant.

"It's great just to be a part of the community you grew up in and to make a difference," Suchanuk said. "I really enjoy being a police officer and having that contact with the people."

Suchanuk, a 1977 Noll and 1981 Drake grad, was also an honorable mention All-American football player at Drake as a junior in 1979. He missed part of his senior year due to an injury.

Former Bishop Noll football coach Jerry Vlasic said Suchanuk was quite an athlete.

"In that era, he was the best all-around athlete I have ever seen," Vlasic said. "He was excellent in all three sports -- football, basketball and baseball. He could do it all. He was a great blocker and most people don't realize he was a punter. Man, could he kick.

"Nowadays, you don't see many three-sport athletes."

Vlasic said Suchanuk was all-state and was the Lake Shore Conference player of the year in 1976.

"I try and talk to the parents and tell them to get involved with their kids, and for the community to get involved," Suchanuk said. "As someone who grew up in this town, I know the streets and those kids are not bad kids.

"I also tell the parents that coming to me after we have their kid (arrested), well, it's a little too late then."

He is also involved in helping rehab houses in the Marktown neighborhood.

"When I grew up there, we didn't think of it as historic," Suchanuk said. "A lot of the houses need a lot of work, but we can do it one house at a time. It is a pride thing for me."

While at Noll, he played under three top big-name coaches in Vlasic, Jerry King (basketball) and the late Jim Anderson (baseball).

In his junior year, the 1975 Noll football team shut out its first five opponents on way to outscoring the opposition 304-35.

The playoff structure was different and the Warriors did not make the playoffs. Valparaiso represented District 1 in the AAA playoffs and won the state title.

"Those were some great teams and we had a lot of good athletes together at the same time," Suchanuk said. "We had some great coaches who recognized what we had and pushed us."

The 1976-77 basketball team could not get past East Chicago Washington, which finished second in the state tourney.

"We had a lot of fun and that is what sports is supposed to be," Suchanuk said. "We had a lot of success because we knew we had to work hard at it."

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