Girls basketballl: Hampshire names Samuelson new coach
Eric Samuelson, the new Hampshire girls basketball coach, appreciates all the Whip-Purs coaches who have come before.
"There's a legacy of great coaches here," Samuelson said. "I'm pretty honored to be asked to serve as the leader of this program. There's a really rich resourse (of former coaches) still in the community I can go back and rely on and I can still use with the staff I have going forward."
Those previous coaches inclue Mike Featherly, who is the new Hampshire boys coach. His move to the boys job opened up for Samuelson's move to the girls varsity coach after Samuelson assisted Featherly the last three years.
Samuelson started playing high school basketball at Von Steuben in Chicago before moving to Marengo and playing his senior year there. He also played college basketball at Lindenwood University in Missouri.
Samuelson then worked in the private sector before getting back into high school coaching in Belvidere nine years ago.
He learned much of his coaching philosophy while away from the game.
"People are the root of every organiziation," Samuelson said. "We're only going to be as good as the kids and the coaching staff and the parents and the booster club and all of that feeds into that. My philosophy on basketball and life is the family you become along the way. It might sound cliche but it's what I believe in. There's going to be good times and bad but if we all commit to the same values and ideals to create our identity the culture becomes a by-product of that."
Hampshire athletic director Mike Sitter certainly is glad to have such a qualified replacement.
"Few programs have a coach in waiting with varsity head coaching experience, so we are fortunate and we expect a smooth transition," Sitter said. "Hampshire girls basketball has a long history of success and Eric is ready to continue that. He is committed to girls basketball and demonstrates that by being committed to local AAU programs."
After leaving the private sector, Samuelson coached for five years in Belvidere. He has been with Featherly at Hampshire the last three seasons and also coached AAU girls basketball.
The Whips went 27-6 last year and won the Fox Valley Conference title on the last game of the regular season over Dundee-Crown. Featherly preached a "we over me" mantra which Samuelson hopes to continue.
"I've really enjoyed working with Mike the last three years," Samuelson said.
"For me it's all about the family. You look at coach (Tony) Bennett from Virgina. He just talked about this at the Final Four. They won because they were a family. It was neat to hear a Final Four basketball coach say it. Unlesss they (Virginia) have that family it (losing to a No. 16 seed in 2018) easily could have fractured them and they could have fallen apart. Instead they used it as a building point and came back and won the national title. That's exactly what you want."
Samuelson expects those bigger issue ideals to translate to the way the Whips play on the court.
"Basketball in high school is what young people need to learn for life," Samuelson said. "The value of collarbboration, being a good leader, being a good follower, all of those things have value. If we start that as a core value we are able to move forward and really get to the nitty-grtty of basketball."