Former Larkin coach Cannata passes away at 73

  • Dom Cannata, who was Larkin's basketball coach for 20 years, passed away Jan. 15 at 73.

    Dom Cannata, who was Larkin's basketball coach for 20 years, passed away Jan. 15 at 73. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO, 2002

Updated 1/23/2021 8:46 AM

Dominick Cannata was never a basketball coach who cared about being noticed. He didn't stalk the sidelines during games. He didn't yell and scream a lot.

One thing Cannata always had was respect.


Cannata, who coached high school basketball for more than 30 years, including 20 as head coach at Larkin High School in Elgin, passed away Jan. 15 after a long battle with cancer. The longtime Lombard resident was 73.

"The No. 1 thing I'll always remember about Dom is he let his coaches coach," said Tim Jones, who was a varsity assistant or head sophomore coach for Cannata's entire tenure at Larkin.

"Pat Wilson, Jeff Butler, Carl Nosbisch, myself ... we all had a lot of fun coaching with Dom. He was a great guy. We worked hard and we had great kids. Even in the down years, we had great kids."

Cannata graduated from Austin High School in Chicago before earning his college degree at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he played basketball. He came to Larkin in 1982 after 11 years at Holy Cross High School in River Grove, the last five of those as head coach. He was a physical education teacher.

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His career record was 307-355. At Larkin, he was 245-244 and is the only Larkin coach to win two sectional championships. The Royals were 25-6 in 1990-'91, losing to Rock Island in the Sweet Sixteen. In 1991-'92, Larkin went 27-4, falling to Rockford Boylan in the supersectional. The 27 wins are a school record.

"You couldn't tell what was going through his head sometimes, he was always so cool and calm," said current Larkin coach Deryn Carter, who played for Cannata and graduated in 1998.

Carter, the third leading scorer in program history with more than 1,000 points, took over as Larkin's coach in 2010 and in 2018 did his old coach one better by taking the Royals to the state's Final Four.

"When I took over I talked about rebuilding that tradition," Carter said.

"Dom wasn't just a basketball coach. He cared more about what happened off the floor and that always stood out for me."

Cannata is survived by his wife of 50 years, Irene; daughter Julia (Michael) Gacek; son Dom (Courtney); and four grandchildren.

Due to public health restrictions, a celebration of life will be held at a later day. Email to be contacted when details are available.

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