Jeff Bonato of the Lake County News-Sun checks in with the news...
July 18, 2007
BY JEFF BONATO
WAUKEGAN — This is the most important thing you need to know about the new varsity boys basketball coach at Waukegan High:
He knows EXACTLY what he’s getting into.
That message was delivered loud and clear by Waukegan High interim principal William Newby on Tuesday night, moments after the Waukegan School board approved the hiring of Ron Ashlaw to head the Bulldogs’ hoops program.
Ashlaw is replacing Al Rogers, who served last season as the school’s interim coach after Brian Colbert resigned as coach after four winning seasons.
Rogers and Colbert were both finalists for the job that wound up going to Ashlaw, as a search committee conducted extensive interviews with five finalists before settling on the Chicagoan.
So, who, exactly, is the new man at the wheel of Waukegan’s hoops program?
Ashlaw has spent the last three seasons coaching the varsity boys basketball team at Chicago University High. That is a small (Class 1A) private school that serves as a lab school for the University of Chicago. Chicago U-High competes in athletics in the same conference as Lake Forest Academy and North Shore Country Day.
Before that, Ashlaw coached three years at St. Benedict, another small, private school in Chicago.
In the classroom, Ashlaw has been teaching social studies at the Walter Dyett Academic Center, which is a Chicago public school serving inner city kids, many of whom have struggled in a traditional academic setting.
He is expected to join the teaching staff in the Waukegan school district in the fall.
He’s also expected to produce a winning team sooner rather than later.
“We were very clear with him, telling him that people are going to expect us to win this year,” said Newby.
Newby served as spokesman for the hiring at Tuesday’s school-board meeting because Waukegan High athletic director Dave Perkins was gone on a family vacation.
However, it was Perkins who made the final call that Ashlaw was the right man at the right time to lead Waukegan.
“Dave said he’s sure that ‘This is the guy who’s the future of Waukegan (basketball),’ ” said Newby.
Newby, who was part of the selection process, said he “was impressed with the thoroughness of Ron’s presentation. He has a plan for what to do every day, starting with Day 1.”
Ashlaw was not present at Tuesday’s meeting of the school board, but he’s expected to get started on his new coaching position immediately.
He will be paid $12,883 to coach the Bulldogs.
The new coach will need to get up to speed soon. He has missed the entire summer-league season, in which the Bulldogs were coached informally by Rogers, among others.
Newby said on Tuesday he did not know who will be on the bench, helping Ashlaw coach this coming season.
In his three years at Chicago U-High, Ashlaw’s teams compiled records of 16-12 (2004-2005), 18-8 (2005-2006) and 9-17 (last season).
In four years at St. Benedict, he was a combined 53-61 (1998-2002).
Expectations at Waukegan are considerably above that.
FOR THE RECORD ...
RON ASHLAW’S COACHING LOG
At Chicago University High
* 2005-2006 — 9-17
* 2004-2005 — 18-8
* 2003-2004 — 16-21
At Chicago St. Benedict
* 2001-2002 — 14-16
* 2000-2001 — 12-17
* 1999-2000 — 9-19
* 1998-1999 — 18-9
WAUKEGAN HOOPS HISTORY RECENT COACHES
2006-2007 — Al Rogers
2002-2006 — Brian Colbert
1998-2002 — Grant Flink
1996-1998 — Lloyd Batts
1995-1996 — Paul Missavage
990-1995 — Frank Belmont