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Humans of WEGO: athlete-turned-dean

Learn about one of West Chicago’s most recognizable faces.
Dean+Antonio+Del+Real+surveys+the+field+as+the+Powder+Puff+game+wages+on+during+Homecoming+2023.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Brittney+Walker%29
Dean Antonio Del Real surveys the field as the Powder Puff game wages on during Homecoming 2023. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Walker)

Coach, teacher, dean, and former student here at WEGO.

West Chicago Community High School’s longstanding dean, Antonio Del Real, may be known as just a dean, but there is way more to his character than his position. 

Not only was he a former athlete for the school and outside clubs, but now, he is also a soccer coach, P.E. teacher, and a loving father who loves his students as much as his family.

For comparison’s sake, Del Real, along with Coach “Bruno” Owens, looks on as the boys’ soccer team plays in 1997. (Photo courtesy of “A Face in the Crowd”, West Chicago Community High School’s 1997 Challenge yearbook)

Del Real grew up in West Chicago and attended West Chicago Community High School as an athlete and upstanding student. Thanks to his hard work and dedication towards soccer, Del Real got the opportunity to play in a competitive club nearby in which they traveled to several states over the U.S. and even Europe. He then moved to Rockford College, where he played four years of soccer while studying physical education and business alongside his older brother, Julio. It was Julio who inspired him to pursue multiple careers. 

“One person I really look up to is my brother. Growing up, we did everything together as kids and we’ve always been really close with each other, like best friends,” Del Real said. 

As a matter of fact, Julio, Del Real’s brother is also a dean – for Willowbrook High School. The two brothers have had a really healthy relationship ever since they were kids, and according to Del Real, they have always been there for each other from day one. The inspiration between them expanded over the years as both got to do what they loved most. 

One thing they loved, above anything else, was soccer.

“Right out of high school, before playing college, I was playing with a club alongside my brother and another friend, Carlos. We played a lot over the Chicago area and states like Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and even got the chance to play in Belgium,” Del Real said.

Although his athletic career eventually came to an end, his love for the sport expanded. After attending Aurora University for his master’s degree in physical education, he worked as a gym teacher and shortly thereafter became a coach to give back to the sport that he deeply loves. 

“I feel like soccer gave me an opportunity to be where I’m at and also the guys that I met after high school. So I feel like I owe a lot to the sport so I want to be able to give back as well,” Del Real said.

Two decades ago, Del Real came back to WEGO as a dean, where he has been working ever since.

Mr. Del Real and I worked together as a team; he embraced that ‘team’ mentality when we met with individual students together. If I was busy helping another student, talking with a family, or in a meeting, he would meet with students on my caseload so that students weren’t waiting. Mr. Del Real was (and is!) always willing to help me and we handled most situations together. He is the true definition of a wonderful teammate,” Jenna Windt, Department Chair of Art and World Languages, said.

That team mentality likely carries over to other aspects of Del Real’s life. In 2019, Del Real was helping out the Varsity soccer team with a variety of tasks: constantly keeping the players focused on their grades, helping out with open gyms, and even trying to showcase West Chicago’s athletes to colleges. He did everything he could to support the program. Towards the end of the season, playoffs loomed, and the soccer program was on a winning streak, victorious in every game, and playoff-bound. The next thing Del Real knew, they were in the state finals, and yes, they won.

Today, Del Real is one of two deans at West Chicago Community High School. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Walker)

Being able to see how proud Mr. Del Real was of our individual Varsity soccer players, and how proud he was of the soccer team & WeGo was something I will never forget.  It was a moment of watching all of his hard work of reaching out to teachers, helping students in their classes, and all of the advice that he had given them come to fruition,¨ Windt said.

Del Real still enjoys being a coach. Two years ago, he was assisting the JV1 boys’ soccer team and then moved on to coach the freshmen for the subsequent seasons – including this season.

Not only is Del Real passionate about soccer and coaching, he is also considered by many to be an excellent dean known for building strong relationships with students. 

“Del Real is someone I enjoy going to when I need to talk about personal stuff or even just to talk and hang out. He’s a very good mentor, and he was also my coach for JV1 my sophomore year,” senior Hector Velazquez said.

Being a dean is a position that comes with a lot of stress, and one that takes professionalism and patience when it comes to carrying out the role well. According to Del Real, it is not easy being a dean, but he loves the job.

“One thing I really enjoy about my job as a dean has got to be working with students because I obviously enjoy coaching and helping students out at the school, but I also enjoy trying to help students with their outside lives and trying to make a difference. There’s also a lot of challenging aspects in my job like talking with parents about consequences like suspensions and expulsions, or even alternative placements, but I always do my best to communicate with parents,” Del Real said.

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About the Contributor
Fabio Piloni
Fabio Piloni, Reporter
Fabio is a future business owner with the goal of living on his own in the near future. He plans to go to trade school to become an electrician, and then attend college to study business. As a senior at West Chicago Community High School, Fabio is a long-time soccer player heading into his final season with the school's team. Fabio is also a car enthusiast who hopes to own a Hellcat one day.
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  • Julio Del RealNov 10, 2023 at 9:03 am

    Wow. Nice article. Thanks for thinking of my brother. I love him tons and we have inspired each other to take the We-Go Wildcat name to great heights. We-Go’s teachings have enabled us to do amazing things and visit incredible places. Thank you Community High School.