The life of a well-known Gillespie teacher and coach will be celebrated next Monday in Staunton. Lana Odorizzi of Staunton passed Thursday morning after her battle with cancer, which started in November of 2012. Lana, 52-years-old, was a physical education teacher at the elementary level in the Gillespie Community School District and had the enthusiasm to inspire everyone around her.
She was hired in Gillespie in August of 2000 as a P.E. teacher and later appointed as head coach of both the middle school volleyball team and the high school volleyball team in the 2008-2009 school year – both positions she held up until her passing. Lana had the most team spirit on the team and never gave up her players, no matter what the deficit was. Her emotions never changed and she never stopped chanting. She was well-known for her “Ooo sah sah sah, ooo sah sah sah, hit em in the head with a tachikara, ooo sah sah sah, ooo sah sah sah, kill!” chant.
Before coming to Gillespie, Lana taught in both Pawnee and Staunton. She graduated high school from Staunton High School before studying Physical Education K-12 at Illinois State University. Her birthday is in two weeks on February 8.
“Mrs. O”, as her students and players called her, coached more than just volleyball. She coached soccer, softball, and track in Pawnee, Staunton and Gillespie. Her coaching tenure included two second place Illinois state titles. In the community of Staunton, she also coached little league softball and taught swimming lessons, gymnastics, and other fitness classes.
She was a role model to many of her students and players. She taught them more than just the fundamentals. She gave them life lessons like always stay positive, always keep fighting, and always be optimistic. Until her passing, Lana did everything she preached to everyone she touched. Even when she felt her worst, her daughter Hilary said Lana would say, “It’s going to get better tomorrow.”
Superintendent Joe Tieman said the entire district #7 family mourns the loss of such a vibrant, enthusiastic, and positive member of their family. “She impacted the lives of hundreds of students, athletes, colleagues, and friends throughout her life,” he told us. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Nearly all of Lana’s former students and players took their thoughts, emotions, and prayers to Facebook and Twitter. Jordan Rosentreter, who played volleyball for Lana in both middle school and high school, thanked her for introducing her to the sport. “I can never thank you enough for it,” Jordan wrote, “You were such an amazing woman and I will miss you terribly. I love you, coach.”
Others were still in shock, saying it’s very surreal. “She was always such an exuberant woman,” Abbie Cline wrote on Facebook, “My prayers go out to her friends, family, and all the other lives she touched during her time here.” Many others kept their messages short by saying “You will be missed dearly” and “My heart is heavy after hearing the sad news”.
Lana leaves behind her husband, Larry “Tuck”, and two children: Hilary and Josh. Dorothy Sies, her mother, and two sisters also survive: Stephanie (George) Dietiker and Dimitria (Jerry) Sies Davis.
Visitation services will be on Monday, January 27 from 4 to 8:00 pm at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Staunton where she was a member. Prayer service will be recited at 4 pm on Monday afternoon. Funeral services will take place on the following day, Tuesday, at 10:00 am at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
Memorials are suggested to the Gillespie volleyball program, Gillespie elementary P.E. program, or to St. Michael’s Catholic Church of Staunton.
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