Transitions never are easy, particularly when taking over for a Hall of Fame coach as your first varsity head coaching appointment.
But Adam DeGroot plans to meet those challenges head-on as he becomes the next head coach of Joliet Catholic boys basketball, taking the reins from Hall of Fame coach Joe Gura, who had coached the Hilltoppers since 2011. Gura also coached at Lockport, Plainfield North, T.F. South, St. Rita, Bishop McNamara and Pontiac in his lengthy and successful career.
“Working under G [Gura] was awesome, not too many individuals have the chance to work for and work with a Hall of Famer,” DeGroot said. “To get an opportunity to work with a guy like that, I learned a massive amount from him both on and off the court.”
DeGroot was Gura’s head assistant during his last season, where the Hilltoppers finished 14-14 and lost in the regional championship to Chicago Leo. Before that, DeGroot spent nine seasons as Joliet Catholic’s sophomore basketball coach.
“It kind of worked out perfect last year as a transition year, as he was kind of going out, it made the transition kind of smoother for me to take over once that season ended last year,” DeGroot said.
Before his last decade at Joliet Catholic, DeGroot was a varsity assistant at Chicago Christian and also coached the eighth-grade team in the Troy School District. DeGroot has been and remains a physical education teacher at Troy.
Although this will be his varsity head coaching job, DeGroot is more than confident he’s ready to step into the role and also anticipates that while some things will remain the same from the Gura regime, some things will change.
“Him and I actually have a lot of different philosophies in terms of basketball, but he was always willing to listen and allowed me to incorporate some things and always made me feel like I had a voice,” DeGroot said. “For the last ten years, I’ve been slowly trying to get Coach G to try to some new things, and I think we’ll see more things along those lines moving forward. There were obviously a lot of wonderful things that G did, but in terms of offensively and defensively we are going to be doing some different things.”
He also has some lofty goals for the program.
“It was an amazing year at Joliet Catholic with a bunch of state titles, things that don’t really happen at other places,” DeGroot said. “And while we’ve had some success with basketball, we’re trying to build up that notoriety that football and baseball have, and holding the basketball team up to that higher standard as well.
“It is super important for the program to take the next step in establishing that culture that many other programs at Joliet Catholic already have.”