Pana Sports Foundation
Albert "Butch" Nowack - 2022 Hall of Fame Inductee
Albert “Butch” Nowack
(Graduated from Pana High School - 1925)
A native of Pana, Illinois, he played college football as a tackle at the University of Illinois under Robert Zuppke and was a member of the 1927 Illinois Fighting Illini football team that won the national championship and captain of the 1928 team that won the Big Ten Conference championship. He was selected as a first-team player on the 1927 and 1928 All-Big Ten Conference football teams. He was also selected by the All-America Board and the North American Newspaper Alliance as a first-team player on the 1928 College Football All-America Team.
He was the head coach of the Central State Teachers College football team in 1929 and 1930. In April 1931, he was hired as an assistant football coach under Earl C. Hayes at Indiana University. He served as Indiana's line coach for the 1931, 1932, and 1933 seasons. In June 1935, he was hired as the head football coach at LaSalle-Peru High School in Illinois. He served in that position for 17 years.
Nowack was unmarried. He died in 1952 at age 48 while undergoing treatment for throat cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is buried at Mound Cemetery in Pana, Illinois.
Butch’s name lives on in Pana as well as LaSalle Peru, Illinois High Schools as he is memorialized at both schools with prestigious awards. In Pana, the Albert “Butch” Nowack Award is presented annually to the football team’s most valuable player. At LaSalle Peru, the A.J. “Butch” Nowack Memorial Award is presented annually to a student-athlete who has shown excellence in football, combined with courage, determination, leadership, and character.
Butch never forgot his roots in Pana as upon his passing, he left an insurance policy to Pana High School used to purchase one of the past football field scoreboards.
Butch was also elected to Pana’s Wall of Fame which recognizes outstanding contributions to society in 1997 and was selected in 2022 to receive a similar award at LaSalle Peru.