‘He was a real Knox legend.’ Remembering professor and coach Jorge Prats

Retired Knox College professor Jorge Prats
Retired Spanish faculty, professor emeritus Jorge Prats, 80th birthday party in the Lincoln Room. (Knox College)


Knox College

Knox College Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages Jorge Prats, founder of the Knox in Barcelona program and Prairie Fire men’s and women’s soccer program, passed away on March 28, 2024.

Jorge touched the lives of countless Knox students through the years. A native of Spain, he arrived at the College in 1962, teaching Spanish as a member of the modern languages department until 2000.

Obituary: Jorge Prats ~ August 1, 1932 – March 28, 2024

His impact also reached far beyond the classroom. Jorge’s passion for soccer was palpable, and, in the mid-1960s, he founded the men’s soccer club, laying the groundwork for what would become a storied athletic tradition. When soccer gained varsity status in 1970, Jorge stepped into the role of head coach, leading the team to its first Midwest Conference championships in 1973. He was also instrumental in starting the women’s soccer club in the 1980s and pushing women’s soccer to varsity status. His coaching style, characterized by a blend of encouragement and critique, not only honed the skills of his players but also instilled in them values of fairness and ethics.

One of his most enduring legacies is the Knox in Barcelona study abroad program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Through this program, he introduced students to a world they might never have experienced, leaving a lasting impact on their lives. He also assisted groups like the Knox Choir in planning trips to Spain, further enhancing the cultural exchange between the College and a country he loved.

“Jorge’s dedication to teaching, coaching, and making a difference in people’s lives are true embodiments of the values that we at Knox hold near and dear to our hearts. He was a real Knox legend and leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and guide the Knox community for years to come,” Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney said.

In 2007, Jorge’s contributions were honored with the dedication of Jorge Prats Field, a fitting tribute to a man who not only pioneered soccer at Knox but also shaped the lives of countless students. Without his guidance and vision, generations of Knox students would have missed out on the opportunity to participate in soccer and, more importantly, to learn from one of the finest faculty members at Knox.

Jorge will be remembered not only for his achievements in academics and athletics but also for his warm-hearted nature and his dedication to shaping young minds. He leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and guide the Knox community, family, and friends, including his children, Jordi ’85, Laura, and John ’93, for years to come.

A celebration of life is planned for Knox’s 2024 Homecoming.

Remarks on Jorge Prats

“Professor Jorge Prats was such a kind and thoughtful man. He shaped so many parts of the student experience at Knox that it would be difficult to exaggerate his impact.” – Provost and Dean of the College Mike Schneider

“Knox lost a legend of a coach, professor, mentor, and pioneer for the soccer program. Dr. Prats was inherently selfless, incredible, and a great man who can never be replaced. His journey and impacts exude resolute determination in all realms. It is this determination and drive to impact lives and culture that gave birth to the amazing soccer program at Knox College. Dr. Prats could be seen in attendance watching many home games. He not only created, established, and nurtured the soccer program, but he remained close to the program till his departure this week. His knowledge of the sport was unprecedented and his love for each and every athlete on his teams, and teams after his coaching career, was evident in his never-ending commitment to the program’s success. He certainly impacted a lot of young men and women, including coaches like me. Thank you Dr. Jorge Prats for everything! Through you, we will continue to shine a light on your passion and creation here at Knox and beyond.” – Kevwe Akpore, Prairie Fire Men’s Soccer Coach 

“Jorge’s spirit is woven forever into the fabric of Knox College. Spanish professor. Founder of the Knox in Barcelona program. Founder of Knox Soccer. Organizer of countless trips to Spain with Knox choirs and jazz bands. His legacy is impossible to list, but the more you look for it, the more you see it and the more you can appreciate it in unexpected ways.” – Associate Professor of Modern Languages; Acting Registrar Jerry Miner