Basketball notes: Catching up with coaching changes
West Chicago High School will always be a special place for Bill Recchia.
He will never forget his time playing basketball and coaching the Wildcats.
He just plans on taking a break from coaching duties.
After 11 seasons coaching the varsity basketball team, Recchia decided to step down from coaching. He announced his decision on social media earlier this month. Recchia also spent six years as an assistant coach at his alma mater in his 20-plus year coaching career.
"West Chicago holds a very dear place to me and my family," Recchia said. "Having gone there, seeing my brother play there, coaching there right out of colleges, I've always had a connection to West Chicago. It's like a home to me. Stepping down is not an easy thing to do. West Chicago is part of me."
Recchia said he takes pride in earning the distinction of being the longest tenured coach in program history. He guided the Wildcats to several quality seasons, most notably in 2015-16 (22-7), when the Wildcats captured a share of the Upstate Eight Valley Division -- the program's first conference boys basketball title in the 113-year history at the time. Recchia finished his 11-year tenure with just over 100 wins.
"I'm not saying I'm done coaching, but it was time for me to step aside from that position," Recchia said. "I want to sit back and enjoy the work of what's left there. Eleven years is a long time, so it was time to step back. I was honored and privileged to be a part of that school. I bleed Wildcat blue.
"I'm so proud to be a part of that group in 2015-16. That was a really special group. You don't win without players. Watching these boys compete on a nightly basis was a memory I'll always cherish. I'll miss the relationships the most. I still keep in touch with guys I coached 18 to 20 years ago. I'll also miss the energy when you walk into a high school or a gym for practice or a game, and I'll miss the energy and enthusiasm of these young me."
Recchia, the program's second all-time leading scorer, didn't mind watching his scoring record get broken. Six-foot-5 John Konchar rose from anonymity to become the program's all-time leading scorer, then continued the theme in college and the NBA. Konchar, a guard/forward, is currently in his fourth season playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I'm so thrilled and happy to see what John has accomplished," Recchia said. "I'm not surprised by it. Any sort of wall or hurdle that was put in front of John, he would crash through it or jump over it. He's a legit NBA player. It's fun to watch him play.
Stevenson job still open:
Earlier this month, Stevenson girls basketball coach Ashley Graham stepped down from her coaching position. Graham said she wanted to spend more time with her family, which includes three young boys. Graham led the Patriots to a Class 4A state title in 2021-22.
Stevenson athletic director Tricia Betthauser said the position remains open and noted the accomplishments of Graham.
"The girls basketball position was officially posted earlier this week and I have received some interest," Betthauser said. "As far as a timetable, I plan to take next week to review the applicants. My hope is to have someone in place by the end of April.
"Coach Graham's decision to step aside from coaching is a win for her children and her family. They deserve to have more of her in their life. We all want more of Ashley Graham in our life because she's genuine, caring, compassionate and loyal. Working alongside her has been one of my greatest joys in this position. We have some outstanding coaches here at Stevenson who put in the work, day in and day out, and we will miss her on the sidelines. She remains on staff at Stevenson as an outstanding educator and our organization is better because of it."
Naperville North update:
Erin Colletti made a tough decision to step down from coaching the Naperville North girls basketball program in late February. The former Sandburg and DePaul standout helped lead the Huskies on a prolific four-year run. In Colletti's tenure, the Huskies compiled an 86-23 record, which included a stellar 36-4 mark in the DuPage Valley Conference. Naperville North won three conference titles in her four years.
Colletti said juggling coaching and helping raise four young kids became too tough of a task.
"Being away from my kids is so hard, so this made it little easier," Colletti said. "I'm so appreciative of the hard work and dedication the players and the coaching staff showed. We were both motivated to work for a common goal. I put in some very quality years at Naperville North. I'm just now ready to put in that quality time with my family and coaching my kids."
Colletti, who played under DePaul coach Doug Bruno, said she does plan on returning to the sidelines -- to coach her own kids.
"I started playing basketball in seventh grade, and been in basketball every year since then," she said. "I still will play basketball. I'm playing in leagues in the summer. I will get my basketball fix. My coaching fix will come with my first-grade daughter and coaching her.
"I feel good about what we were able to accomplish at Naperville North. We were competitive and a very strong team. People feared playing us. I feel we put Naperville North on the map. We got invited to more tournaments, finally beat Benet and accomplished some big things and created lifetime memories."
Mary Fendley announced her plans to retire well before the 2022-23 season. The longtime Hersey coach built a powerhouse program. Fendley and assistant coach Julia Barthel roamed the sidelines together for 25 years, ending their highly successful tenure with a Class 4A fourth-place trophy this season. Fendley and Barthel, who also serves as Hersey's athletic director, had just one losing season and compiled 537 victories and two trips to state.
Barthel, like Fendley, does not plan on coaching next season. Barthel said Fendley's been a role model for young men and women.
"Coach Fendley has been the face of the Hersey girls basketball team for 25 years," Barthel said. "She has always been a proponent of Title IX and providing opportunities for young female athletes to excel. Her positivity and enthusiasm for coaching consistently supported her athletes over the course of her tenure. Being the face of the Hersey program for so many years, she set the standard for success that was mirrored by many programs throughout Hersey."
Burlington Central girls coach Collin Kalamatas stepped down. West Aurora is looking for a new boys coach after letting Brian Johnson go, and Elgin Community College is doing the same with Reed Nosbisch and its men's program.