Schuckman: QND coaching search starts by looking in mirror for blueprint of what works

QND blue

| Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — As Quincy Notre Dame athletic director Bill Connell begins the search for the school’s next boys basketball coach, he first must look in the mirror.

That’s where he will see the direction he needs to go.

In the fall of 1992, with one season as a collegiate assistant coach under his belt and just two years removed from graduating from Culver-Stockton College, Connell began his first season as the QND head football coach. He was 23 years old. He was unproven. He was unknown.

And he was the right person for the job.

The Raiders won 186 games over 26 seasons with Connell at the helm. They made 21 playoff appearances and won 10 or more games six times. He injected new life into the program with a new perspective and new vigor. 

In Connell’s nearly 30 years as athletic director, he’s done the same exact thing for multiple programs by following the same blueprint. Give a young, energetic, invigorating coach an opportunity and let them build a winner.

Eric Orne had no head varsity basketball coaching experience when he was hired to run the QND girls program in 2000. All he’s done since is win more than 500 games and four state championships and put himself on the Mount Rushmore of QND coaches.

Greg Reis has a spot on that mountain, too. Reis was 28 years old when he went from youth soccer coach and part-time high school assistant coach to the QND boys soccer coach. Still coaching, Reis owns more than 400 career victories and three state championships.

Scott Douglas was 30 years old when he was named the QND boys basketball coach in 1996. Over the next 17 seasons, he won 360 games, became the winningest coach in program history and guided the Raiders to two state trophies.

John Wyss had been an assistant baseball coach at QND for three seasons before he was named the head coach in 1998. Eight seasons, 214 victories and a second-place state finish later, Wyss had exceeded expectations.

The process of replacing Wyss led to hiring Chris Martin, who was 26 years old at the time and had spent three seasons as the hitting instructor at Quincy University. Martin won 211 games and three regional titles in 11 seasons at the helm.

The list of examples goes on and on, and it serves as a reminder of what needs to happen next.

Take a chance. Find a hungry young coach. Create a winning culture.

A number of names have been tossed around in the days since Kevin Meyer resigned last Friday as QND’s head coach following nine seasons at the helm in which he won 176 games and five regional championships. Some have experience. Some have championship rings. Some have strong ties to the school.

Is there the promise of a better future when you recycle the past? Does a veteran coach have plans to stick around long term? Does old blood create the new culture you seek?

Connell knows he can find the right answers to those questions.

All he has to do is look in the mirror.

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