Thorwald “Pete” Solverson has worked as a professional football player, a restaurateur, a runner and manager at the Chicago Board of Trade, and as a mortgage consultant. But one of this former NFL player’s favorite roles was as a part-time football coach. He coached in Lake Zurich, Triton Jr. College and Evanston.
Solverson is making good use of his coaching skills at Be Safe Driving School, located at 45 South Old Rand Road in downtown, Lake Zurich. He opened the driving school in June.
“I wanted to go back and work with young adults. Driver’s education is not brain science, but I teach kids how to use their commons sense to be a safe driver,”
Solverson said he has a good personality for driver’s education, as he is a calm person.
“When I talk, the students listen. They give me respect and I give them back respect,” he said.
A former Lake Zurich resident, currently living in Port Barrington, Solverson has a lot experience teaching kids to drive. He and his wife, Cindy, have a blended family of five children. The youngest, A.J. Consago, died last February at 24. Solverson had hoped AJ would join him in the driving school. He said keeping busy with the school is therapeutic in dealing with the loss. He also enjoys time with his grandchildren, who live locally.
Solverson focuses on teaching his students defensive driving. He also talks to them about texting and driving and shows films that show the results of distracted driving or driving under the influence.
“The films are straightforward, using the shock effect and showing how accidents affect parents,” he said. He talks to kids about trusting their parents if they find themselves in an unsafe situation, like being under the effects of alcohol or substances, or being with a driver who is.
“I tell them to trust your parents. They may be mad at you, but you’ll be safe,” he said.
Solverson said Be Safe Driving School is a service business, so he sets his hours so they are convenient for busy students. He said he is not in competition with high school driver’s education programs, but provides a convenient alternative. One example of how he provides convenience is that he has plans to offer a branch classroom at a soccer club in Palatine, so students can get their driving lessons after their soccer practice.
Solverson grew up in Wisconsin and went to college at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. An offensive tackle, he was drafted by the L.A. Rams in 1974, cut shortly after and went to play in Hawaii for the World Football League. In 1976, he signed with the Washington Redskins. When he blew out his knee in 1977, his football career was over.
Some of his favorite memories from playing for the Redskins are of Coach George Allen.
“When I played for George Allen, he would bring in people every Wednesday during training camp-- the elderly, handicapped, some people with problems . . . he would always talk about giving back. This is where it comes full circle; yes I’m in business, but at the same time, I know I’m helping young adults learn something important about driving behind the wheel,” Solverson said.
“I try to instill something they carry for life, I enjoy doing it and I think I’m good at doing it. Giving back gives me pleasure,” he said.
Visit Be Safe Driving School online or call for more information at (815) 293-7483.