Stagg basketball coach steps down

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Stagg coach John Daniels is shown coaching his final basketball game – a regional loss to Marian Catholic at Eisenhower. He announced last week he was stepping down as boys hoops coach.

There was an outpouring of sadness and well-wishes on social media last week after Stagg basketball coach John Daniels said he was stepping down for personal reasons.

But there is some good news for some athletes at the Palos Hills school. He said he will continue to serve as boys and girls tennis coach. This spring, the Chargers will defend their sectional title with the veteran coach at the helm.

But the long hours – both in season and during the off season – of basketball that he went through in the past decade will be used to help take care of his father, Robert, who is ill and living in South Bend.

“It’s been really tough because I’ve been involved in basketball since I can remember,” Daniels said of the decision to step down. “I played in high school and college and right out of college, I coached. It’s always been a big part of my life.’’

Daniels coached 14 seasons at Stagg after three years at Elmwood Park and three more at York. He opened his career at Stagg with a 4-24 mark and quickly turned things around, winning 306 games in the next 13 seasons. When this season ended, he was the third-longest tenured area boys basketball coach and second longest in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue (behind 16-year Lincoln-Way East boss Rich Kolimas).

“John is a quality person and a quality coach,’’ Stagg Athletic Director Terry Treasure said. “He’s a coach’s coach. He has influenced the lives of many young men who have come through Stagg. The experiences he helped create for our athletes, students, alumni, staff and the entire community will be hard to duplicate. He should be proud of the program he created.’’

“It is difficult to accept a resignation from an individual who has had such a positive influence on student athletes and the coaching staff,” Stagg Principal Eric Olsen said. “John has been a true example of Charger pride and has instilled the values of character and service into the program.”

The school is in the process of finding his replacement and officials hope to name a new coach before June, when the summer season opens.

Daniels has some fond memories of his teams.

“My second year we won 20 games after winning four the year before,’’ he said. “Winning the regionals were special. I still remember Max Strus (now at DePaul) hitting a big shot against Andrew (in 2013) and us winning the game in double overtime. Then we beat Sandburg for the regional title the next night. There are a lot of great memories.’’

Daniels will now get to spend a little more quality time with his father, who has been in Texas for many years involved in business and as a professor at the University of Texas before moving to South Bend.

“My dad played football and I gravitated toward basketball probably because my dad didn’t play,” John Daniels said. “It was one of those things where I enjoyed basketball but he always supported me.’’