It all adds up: Kuzmanic to take the reins at Maine West
The most recent Maine West High School coaching hire truly adds up, for more than one reason.
First off, newly-named girls basketball coach Deanna Kuzmanic will also teach math, the same subject former Warriors coach Kim deMarigny taught during her illustrious tenure as the Warriors coach the past five years (137-13 record).
de Marigny, who led West to an undefeated (35-0) Class 4A state title in 2019, recently accepted the head girls basketball job at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, TN, where she has moved for family reasons.
Secondly, although she is one of Wheeling High School's all-time greats (1,736 career points as a four-time all-stater), Kuzmanic is hardly a stranger to Maine West.
In fact, she says sometimes she feels like she went to high school at Maine West.
"It's really a dream," says the former Alabama-Birmingham standout about coaching at the Des Plaines school. "I'm so thankful. It's really unbelievable."
Kuzmanic was coached by the late Maine West hall of fame coach Derril Kipp (788 wins and five state trophies), who laid the foundation for girls basketball success at West prior to deMarigny. She played seven seasons for Kipp's AAU Hustle teams, and was also a regular in the Maine West gym for its highly-popular summer league, for which she will now be a major contributor.
"I even remember all those years attending the league to watch my sisters play in the league when they were at Wheeling," Kuzmanic said.
Stephanie Kuzmanic, who starred at Carthage College and Kellie Kuzmanic, a standout at Cornell College in Iowa, are also coaching. Stephanie is the head girls basketball coach at Leyden while Kellie coaches at Holmes Middle School in Wheeling, where all the sisters attended.
Stephanie and Kellie are also physical education teachers, like their retired mother Teresa.
"We have a lot of teachers in my family," Deanna said. "My dad (Bob) also taught and my grandmother was a math professor. That's kind of why I decided to teach. I actually wanted to go a different route than my sisters and mother who were all P.E. teachers. I kind of chose math at first because I was good at it. But once I started taking courses at UAB I realized there is such a need for math teachers and such a need for students to see their potential in math. So many people just think 'if I don't have a math brain, I can't learn it.' I think that's what intrigued me the most. It challenged me about math, getting all students to realize that 'hey, I can be successful in math and I can have a growth mindset no matter where I am and I can succeed in it."
Kuzmanic also hopes to continue seeing players succeed in the tradition-rich Maine West program.
"I'm ready to go full force," said Kuzmanic, currently teaching math at Deerfield High School, where she has also served as the junior varsity girls basketball coach and freshman boys volleyball coach.
After a standout career at UAB where she scored 1,536 career points (11th most in school history), Kuzmanic played professional basketball in Puerto Rico, as well as being a member of the Puerto Rican women's national basketball team that qualified for the Olympics this year.
But she decided to retire to pursue a coaching teaching career like her sisters.
"Coach Kuzmanic is a great teacher, coach and role model." said Maine West athletic director Jarett Kirshner "She believes in education-based athletics and has spent most of her life dedicated to the game of basketball. She is a caring and passionate professional. We look forward to her leadership of these incredible kids and this great program. Deanna is a great fit for our girls basketball program here at Maine West. "
It certainly adds up in more ways than one.