Dan Mandernack is hitting the ground running as South Elgin's new varsity girls basketball coach.
Mandernack, a 1991 Dundee-Crown graduate who was the Chargers' 3-sport Athlete of the Year his senior year, was announced Tuesday as the Storm's new coach. He takes over for Tim Prendergast, who stepped down after seven seasons to spend more time with his family.
Mandernack has been South Elgin's freshman girls coach the past two seasons, in which his Storm teams went 50-3, including 26-1 this past season.
"I couldn't be more honored, thankful and excited," said Mandernak, who teaches at Elgin High but coaches three sports at South Elgin. "I've been up since 5 a.m. (Tuesday) reaching out to the feeder coaches and getting travel gear together," Mandernack said. "I've been here coaching three sports and I see the sense of pride in the South Elgin community and I see the dedication, loyalty and support, South Elgin is a sleeping giant in everything and I'm honored and proud to say I'm a part of it."
Mandernack earned his bachelors degree at Eastern Illinois University and his masters at Concordia. He played football, basketball and baseball at Dundee-Crown then baseball one year at Elgin Community College. He coaches freshman baseball at South Elgin as well as being a part of the football coaching staff.
"I bleed red and blue," Mandernack said. "I'm there year 'round."
He takes over a Storm team that went 20-10 last season (8-3 in the Upstate Eight Valley), winning its second regional title in three years. South Elgin was 111-89 in Prendergast's tenure.
While senior standouts Savanah Uveges, Kennede Miller and Anna Tracy will be gone, the Storm does have a talented and experienced group of players returning as well as a strong core coming up from the lower levels.
"We'll really focus on three things," Mandernack said. "Togetherness, toughness and continuing to improve. We'll give 110 percent all the time, we'll hustle and we'll stay together. Everything has a meaning and a purpose and we're going to have a lot of fun. We'll be a fast-paced team and with the group we have coming back we'll be very deep."
Mandernack says he'll rely heavily on seniors-to-be Cara Fahey, Laura McIntosh and Taylor Ford to take charge of the team.
"We'll need them to be leaders," he said. "They'll have to buy into all the things I want to do and that will start with their senior leadership. We want the kids to play basketball for four years but to have friends and memories for life."
The new coach also said he plans to form the Storm Ring of Honor for former players as well as a big sister-type mentoring program within the South Elgin program.
"I can't thank Tim and (assistant coaches) John Uveges and Mike Peacock enough," he said. "They've all supported me and helped me along the way."