Technically, Joe Capalbo stepped down as Crystal Lake Central’s boys basketball coach, and Tigers assistant coach Dan Oziminski was hired for the head position.
But it actually was almost like they just traded jobs, with Oziminski taking the big chair and Capalbo moving over as his assistant.
“Joe and I are pretty much a package deal,” Oziminski said. “I’ve known Joe forever. He was the best man in my wedding.”
Fortunately for the two former North Park University basketball teammates, District 155 administrators liked the package deal.
“It’s definitely an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for. I love supporting team aspects. This is a great group of kids, a great school, great staff..."— Dan Oziminski, Crystal Lake Central boys basketball coach
Capalbo wanted to alleviate the pressure of being head coach in two sports. The two have coached the Tigers together for four years and also coach the girls lacrosse team together, with Capalbo as head coach and Oziminski as his assistant.
“Basically, we flipped roles. When I stepped down, I knew Dan was going to apply for it, and I told him if he got the job, I don’t want to be done coaching basketball,” Capalbo said. “I still want to be involved with coaching these boys. Dan’s my assistant for lacrosse. It’s like, ‘I’ll be your assistant, and we can do these two together.’ That was the end goal, and he got the job.”
Oziminski graduated from Johnsburg in 2006; Capalbo graduated from Central the same year. They were both among the top players in the area that season. Oziminski and Chad Hettermann comprised a terrific backcourt for the Skyhawks, who went 29-1, with their only loss to a powerful Gurnee Warren team in the Class AA Waukegan Sectional.
Oziminski, who teaches PE and health at Crystal Lake’s Lundahl Middle School, graduated from North Park and coached at Johnsburg for a few years. He then joined former Prairie Ridge coach Corky Card’s staff and later worked on Cary-Grove coach Adam McCloud’s staff before coming to Central with Capalbo.
Oziminski and his wife, Kelley, have three young girls, ages 4, 2 and 1.
“It’s definitely an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for,” Oziminski said. “I love supporting team aspects. This is a great group of kids, a great school, great staff, there’s lots of people who have helped with this good opportunity and this is time to be the ultimate teammate and step up.
“Joe needed to take a lesser role. We love the game, we weren’t ready to give it up. If I had to slide over chairs, that’s what we do. It was an opportunity for me to say, ‘This is good for the team.’ It’s my turn.”
Capalbo’s teams were 24-84 in his four seasons.
“Being a head coach in two sports was getting tough and taking a lot of time,” Capalbo said. “I felt like I had to step away from basketball, with the four-month season and 31-game schedule. That was the one I chose to give up.”