Maybe Tim Zasada is a walking course in positive thinking.
The 1990 Hammond High graduate and Calumet City native has not listened to naysayers as he made career moves.
He took over and rebuilt the football and girls basketball programs at T.F. North in Calumet City, and has turned the corner with Reavis' football program in southwest suburban Burbank.
"Not completely yet," Zasada said. "We are not where we want to be, but we are working towards it. We still haven't made the playoffs."
When Zasada left Hammond High after the 2000 season to go west a few miles to Calumet City, he didn't listen to the naysayers.
"They told me I was crazy for going to T.F. North," Zasada said. "They said, 'You are a good young coach and that is a coach's graveyard.' I didn't listen because I knew they could win."
He took over a program that had a 6-56 record over the seven years and had not made the Illinois playoffs since 1984. He went 4-5 his first year and his teams made the playoffs four out of his six years. He also was on Artie Rogers' staff for three years as offensive coordinator and the Meteors qualified for the postseason two of those three years.
He brought the graveyard to life.
"We got the kids to believe and I had a great staff," Zasada said. "We just worked hard and the kids bought into it."
The same formula worked when he took over a girls basketball program that had won four games the previous season. He built the program into a south suburban power.
When the Reavis job opened up, he went after it. The Rams were a football power in the 1980s, winning the Illinois Class 6A title in 1982, but were 1-17 the previous two years before Zasada took over.
"Again, people asked me why I would go there," Zasada said. "They said, 'You are are crazy.' Maybe I am, but instead of asking 'Why?' I came back with 'Why not?'"
This year when his team beat Oak Lawn, he took them out for tacos in Oak Lawn.
"I told them if we won, we eat tacos on 95th Street and we did," Zasada said. "We had some fun and you have to. Ten, 20 years from now, if you ask a kid how many tackles he made in the Oak Lawn game, he won't remember, but he will remember eating tacos in Oak Lawn with his uniform on."
He did the same thing at North when the Meteors beat their rival T.F. South in Lansing.
"We had the bus pull up in front of Beggars Pizza on Ridge Road and we got out and ate pizza in Lansing with our uniforms on," Zasada said. "Not in Cal City, but in Lansing."
With the North girls basketball team, he would order chicken wings after a big win. One player had to go home to study for a test, so Zasada took care of that.
"We got her to-go," Zasada laughed. "One of those Styrofoam cartons and we even put fries in it."
Zasada originally wanted to be a sportscaster and studied communications at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., but being the son of a Hall of Fame coach, he had the coaching bug.
"I was around such great coaches since I was a little kid," Zasada said. "At Hammond, I was too young for Bernie Krueger, but I heard a lot about what a great man he is. George Hall, my dad, Jim Sherer at Hammond High, Leroy Harwell in basketball. That rubs off on you and you can't help but learn from them. They were great coaches. They lived Hammond High sports."
He also credits his wife of 12 years Nancy for her support.
"Couldn't do it without here," Zasada said. "She is very supportive of me and being a coach's wife is a thankless job."
He also coaches his daughter, Zoe, in basketball and softball, and his son, Parker, in flag football and baseball.
"I love it," Zasada said. "Being a coach's kid, you got to love a chance to coach your kids."