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Niles West Welcomes New Boys Basketball Coach

By Diana Panoutsos

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After extensive interviews following the retirement of the prior head coach of the boys basketball program Robert Williams, Niles West welcomes new boys basketball coach Michael B. Wasielewski. Before coming to coach here at West, Wasielewski most recently coached as an assistant coach at Stevenson High School.

As soon as Wasielewski received the news that he got the job, he was beyond thrilled to take on the opportunity.

“When Mr. Griffin gave me the phone call, I was absolutely thrilled. Niles West is a terrific school in one of the most elite athletic conferences in the state. It is exactly the kind of place I want to teach and coach,” he said. “I’ve already met with the returning varsity basketball players and I am energized by their positive attitudes and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to get started coaching this summer.”

Many students are very thrilled for the opportunity to learn and be coached by Wasielewski. Although senior Johnny Pabst won’t have the opportunity to play for Wasielewski, he is confident the Niles West basketball program will continue to thrive and excel under the leadership of Wasielewski.

“I feel good about the new coach. I liked that he was younger and energetic and I feel he will do whatever needs to be done to become a successful coach. He came in well prepared and actually had some visuals mapping out his plan and his vision moving forwards. He was most impressive with his idea of creating a culture and becoming good people as well as good basketball players,” he said.

Pabst does believe that the team will be in great fantastic hands.

“I think the players will relate to him and he has the experience to lead the program moving forward. Coach Williams has had a tremendous career and is leaving him in great shape with the program, and I think this is a very exciting time for Niles West basketball,” Pabst said.

Niles West athletic director Kendall Griffin described the tedious process of sifting through applicants one by one in order to find the best candidate for the job.

“The assistant director, Terri Laux, and I sat through each of the applications, read through them and tried to get the original number of applicants down to a workable number. We brought in a good number of people and a diverse pool of applicants for the first round of interviews,” Griffin said.

This interview process was unique, however, because the athletic directors decided to include the input of some of the student athletes. The players were able to contribute their opinions on each candidate and help the athletic directors decide on the winner.

Senior Mirsad Mackic describes the first lasting impressions coach Wasielewski made on him and everyone in the interview room.

“I was very impressed with what I’ve heard from coach Wasielewski. I believe the Niles West basketball program is in good hands for as long as he is a coach here. He fit all the attributes a player would love to have in a coach. It was very cool being a part of the interview; it was the first experience for me and I thought it was very beneficial having myself and the other athletes be a part of it,” Mackic said.

After beating out more than 40 other applicants for the position, in addition to Wasielewski taking the role of head coach, he will also be teaching in the Humanities Department beginning this fall.

Contributions to this story made by Christina Lappas 

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