Former Warren, CLC coach Ramsey missing basketball but enjoying life
Long before the basketball season was abruptly interrupted by COVID-19, and became a very different kind of basketball season than any of us has ever seen, it was also the most different basketball season of Chuck Ramsey's life.
"This was the first season that I haven't coached basketball in 44 years," Ramsey said. "It was really different."
But guess what?
"I enjoyed it," chuckled Ramsey, who retired at the end of the 2019 season after seven years as the head coach of the men's basketball team at College of Lake County.
Sure, Ramsey, best known for his long tenure and many successes as the boys basketball coach at Warren, missed coaching. He did it for a total of 37 years across multiple levels for the Blue Devils.
But, not to worry, the 70-year-old basketball nut certainly got his basketball fix this year.
And he did plenty of other things that had been left unchecked on what used to be a largely ignored bucket list.
"Coaching takes up a lot of time," said Ramsey, who spent 19 years and rolled up 400 wins, 9 North Suburban Conference titles, 13 regionals, 6 sectionals and two trips downstate (1999, 2011) that yielded second place finishes as Warren's head varsity coach. "There have been a lot of things I've wanted to do for a long time. And I had time to do them."
Last summer, Ramsey and his wife Chris took a big family vacation to California that included their two adult children, Abbey and Ryan, and their grandchildren, Veronica and Jordyn.
"That was fun to get away, and fun to be with my grandchildren," Ramsey said. "My wife and I also do a lot of child care for them, so we've been spending a lot of time with our granddaughters."
Incredibly, both of Ramsey's parents are still alive and he spent plenty of time with them before social distancing became a thing.
Ramsey's dad Charles is 96 and his mom Helen is 90 and both live in downstate Johnston City.
Ramsey also reconnected with friends in the area, and down in southern Illinois, where he is from originally.
In downstate Carbondale this winter, Ramsey visited Southern Illinois University, his alma mater, and hooked up with some old college friends.
"I also saw a lot of basketball, as a fan, which was nice," Ramsey said. "I went to two SIU games and I also went to some of the really old, beautiful high school gyms down there and that was fun. I went to a high school game or two every night I was there."
Like most winters, Ramsey also found himself in high school gyms across the suburbs. But instead of being there to recruit or scout, he was there to simply enjoy. As a fan.
"That was fun to just watch," Ramsey said. "I went to that epic double overtime game between Rolling Meadows and Buffalo Grove because I wanted to see Max Christie (of Rolling Meadows) and (Kam Craft of Buffalo Grove). That was a great game.
"I went to a Stevenson-Mundelein game and that was really good too. I had the freedom to go out and see any game I wanted and that was fun."
Not being tied down to a season, or a team or a schedule was certainly refreshing for Ramsey after all these years. But that doesn't mean he would never consider going back to his happy place of coaching.
"I'm certainly not seeking anything, but I wouldn't say I'd never consider it," Ramsey said. "I saw a lot of games this past season. I still am on a lot of coaching websites because I just enjoy the X's and O's and I still like reading about the game and being up on the game.
"We'll see what happens. But I'm fine either way. I like coaching, I like prepping for games and I like being around the kids. But I'm OK not coaching too. There is plenty to do, and if I don't have anything to do right now, I'm OK with that, too."