John Holakovsky was part of a historic season at Hinsdale South last school year.
He hopes to bring similar success to Yorkville.
Holakovsky, a 27-year-old Downers Grove South graduate, was approved as Yorkville's next boys basketball coach at Tuesday night's school board meeting. He replaces Mike Dunn, who left to take the job at York.
Holakovsky most recently was on the staff at Hinsdale South for five seasons, the first four as sophomore coach and last year as varsity assistant. The Hornets this past season won a school record 30 games, more than doubling the previous year's win total, and reached the sectional semifinal before their playoff run was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was a similar blueprint to what I want to do at Yorkville," Holakovsky said. "It was a bunch of kids really coachable that bought into their roles, took to skill development and what we taught them, got better each year. We had that chip on our shoulder that we had something to prove. That's something I can see us having here at Yorkville."
Holakovsky, ironically, played baseball rather than basketball in high school at Downers Grove South.
But he knew he wanted to be a teacher and coach, and got his start coaching basketball at Downers Grove's Lakeview Junior High School while was still a senior in high school. He continued coaching there while he went to college at Northern Illinois University, student taught at Hinsdale South out of college and then was a sophomore assistant at Downers Grove South. He also coached baseball at Downers Grove South.
"I kind of knew that coaching was a path I wanted to go on," Holakovsky said. "The guy who I kind of looked up to as a mentor when I was a student at Lakeview was Jake Little. I knew he was still coaching there, visited one day and kept coming around and he showed me the ropes. He was someone that got me wanting to be a teacher and coach and I stuck with him throughout my college years."
Holakovsky also credited Hinsdale South coach Brett Moore for giving him the responsibility to run summer camps and summer league games.
"Being a head coach was something I knew I wanted and prepared for," Holakovsky said. "I was lucky, Brett gave me a lot of opportunities to be in a head coaching role."
Yorkville athletic director Luke Engelhardt said the interview process came together rather quickly after the job opening was posted the first week of July.
Candidates were brought into the school to meet with a committee of people including players, parents and administrators.
"John has a real impressive knowledge of the game, a strong vision for what our feeder program can do to promote themselves, he has an incredible passion for basketball that is hard to match and just his work ethic and what he can bring in terms of preparation will serve him really well," Engelhardt said. "He is very enthusiastic about this, he's worked under some really successful and experienced coaches and been able to learn and develop his own philosophy. He has a student-centered philosophy, talks about providing a great experience for the kids and that's what we're looking for."
Holakovsky, also hired as a full-time physical education/health/driver's education teacher, will hit the ground running.
Yorkville's assistant coaches put high school kids through four days of skill work, but the Foxes pushed the rest of the camp dates back to the first week of August with the hope of having a new coach in place by then.
Holakovsky plans to meet the kids Thursday, followed by four days of camp next week.
"I want us to be a hard-working team that will be competitive, play with a chip on our shoulder, fighting to compete and win that specific game," Holakovsky said. "At the same time we don't want to be just a defensive team. We want to shoot the basketball, play a fun type of basketball. We want them to enjoy coming to practice every day."