A reasonably good basketball participant for his St. Joseph Elementary Faculty crew in Elgin, Bartlett native Mike McGrath and his head coach Edward Seisser each felt a calling. Seisser went on to change into a beloved priest. McGrath turned the winningest head coach within the historical past of basketball on the College of Chicago.
McGrath’s U of C Maroons ended the season Saturday with a loss to Washington College in St. Louis to complete the season 15-10, good for fourth within the eight-team College Athletic Affiliation however falling wanting the Division III males’s basketball championship match. Together with his lifetime document of 298-209, McGrath shot previous U of C Corridor of Fame coach Joseph Stampf’s document 208 victories again in 2013.
“The children I get to work with are ridiculous. They’re simply actually particular guys,” McGrath says, noting his gamers are all pushed students who can also play basketball. However there may be extra to this system than basketball and lecturers.
“That may be the most effective factor about Coach, the relationships he is constructed,” says Jordan Baum, 20, a 6-foot-Three junior level guard from Deerfield. McGrath makes certain the upperclassmen assist the freshmen modify to school. Teammates assist one another on and off the courtroom, and McGrath ceaselessly has his crew meet with U of C alums, who can assist gamers with life after commencement.
The crew’s shiny program features a web page of “McGrath Period Alumni,” itemizing each former participant’s occupation, together with physician, surgeon, interventional heart specialist, psychiatrist, funding banking analyst, software program engineer, lawyer and extra.
With the College of Chicago all the time rated among the many nation’s high educational universities, “We fill our crew with guys who belong right here,” McGrath says, noting his recruiting is “extra about analysis” than promoting gamers on this system. “Yearly I have a look at a listing of the highest 400 highschool basketball gamers in Illinois. Usually, there are about two we’re concerned with.”
Having turned 49 in January, McGrath can see himself teaching the Maroons for one more 20 years.
“I’ve needed to do that since fifth grade. Why would I cease?” he says.
His fifth-grade coach Seisser “taught me loads about sports activities and competitors and crew,” says McGrath. When McGrath married his spouse, Kari, Father Seisser carried out the ceremony.
A 6-foot-Three heart on the varsity basketball crew at Elgin’s St. Edward Excessive Faculty, McGrath knew his future was in teaching.
“I performed on a crew that was actually good, with my greatest pals. It was such an emotional excessive, I needed to get that again,” he says.
One of many causes he selected to attend DePauw College in Greencastle, Indiana, was as a result of the top basketball coach was Royce Waltman, a former assistant below Bobby Knight at Indiana College.
McGrath joined the crew as a supervisor, however labored his method as much as be a scholar assistant coach.
“I used to be working with guys on the ground. I used to be scouting,” says McGrath, who says he by no means would have gotten that chance at a Division I faculty.
McGrath graduated in 1992 with a level in English literature and obtained an condo with buddy Dave Yates, now the profitable head coach of the Fremd Excessive Faculty women basketball crew. “I obtained a job on the library at Gordon Tech Excessive Faculty,” McGrath says.
He labored from 7 a.m. till Three p.m. after which hustled to the College of Chicago, the place coach Waltman helped him get an unpaid gig as an assistant to go coach Pat Cunningham.
“I gave myself three years,” McGrath says. On the finish of his third 12 months, Cunningham supplied him a job as a paid assistant coach. When Cunningham left in 1999, McGrath was employed as head coach at age 28.
He is been Illinois Basketball Coaches Affiliation Coach of the 12 months 4 instances, UAA Coach of the 12 months thrice, has gained 4 UAA titles, and led the Maroons to an NCAA Division III Elite Eight berth and Candy 16 look. He is taken his crew to tournaments in Italy, Spain, South America, New Zealand and Australia.
He is additionally loved the environment on the elite faculty in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
At his Friday evening practices, grownup pickup gamers all the time lurk courtside ready for McGrath to offer them the ground for pickup video games.
“For 10 years, that was President Obama,” McGrath says, noting the then-Illinois senator would present as much as play with future Secretary of Training Arne Duncan and others.
“He was simply a kind of guys ready to get on the ground. I most likely requested him to cease dribbling.”