By Michael O'Brien

Ron Ashlaw is the new Waukegan coach

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Jeff Bonato of the Lake County News-Sun checks in with the news...

ashlaw

July 18, 2007
BY JEFF BONATO
jbonato@scn1.com

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

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16 Comments

Being a Waukegan Alum, this is an absolute joke, especially since Al Rogers and Brian Colbert were finalists for the job. A.D. must have known this wouldn't be a popular decision by going on vacation and leaving someone else to break the news. This job should have been filled months ago. After all this time, bringing in a Class A coach with a not so sterling record makes NO sense. The kids played hard for Rogers and the program had success with Colbert. Why bring in an outsider, especially when he doesn't have unpeckable credentials. Jereme Richmond can back home for THIS!!!!

I'm glad Waukegan is getting new blood, Waukegan has always settled for to many local people with lower skills in their schools. It's time to hire first class talent for our kids!
And it's nice that unlike the other candidates, this person is teaching at Waukegan Schools, that shows commitment.
I hope Mr.. Rogers handles this with more class than some of the previous individuals who did not get hired, and threw tantrums.
Waukegan should line up to support this new guy, and show the rest of the area what a great place this is to work & live.

Unless you understand the schools Mr. Ashlaw has coached at, you cannot take his record at face value. Small private city schools require more than someone to show up at 7:30 on Friday nights. I think you will find Mr. Ashlaw will work extremely hard to build a program that the school and the city can be very proud of.

It is no surprise that Ashlaw's excellent plans and organization were noted as a reason for the hire. You will not find many coaches who have a more detailed vision and strategy for their programs. Surely, Ashlaw will continue with this style at Waukegan.

Ron Ashlaw is a great coach. Look out for Waukegan.

I hope you all understand it when Jereme Richmond moves on. The family was never really cemented to Waukegan High Schools Basketball program. Don't be surprised if he skips out on this "Class A" BS! The right thing to do would have been to bring Brian Clobert back and revitilize this program with Al Rogers as his assistant coach. Good luck Mr. Perkins and Mr. Ashlaw. Good luck.

We must remember that the Richmond kid chose "class A BS" for his playing career. Richmond or not, the basketball program will be in great shape under the leadership of Ashlaw. Richmond wasnt in Waukegan last year- so who cares if he's he here this year. Is Richmond more important than the other kids in the program? The current players are going to benefit from a tactition type coach who can teach the game. Colbert was more worried about the kids not shaking hands, illegal practices, and flicking off the crowd after free throws. And Rodgers struggled with everything until they forced him to bring in that Sheilds guy to help. Ashlaw will build a solid program!

All I know is that Brian Colbert took Waukegan to 2 straight Super-Sectionals after the program had been struggling for years. What does anyone really know about Ashlaw other than he's had 2 winning seasons in 7 years. What is the problem over there where hiring a basketball coach is such a struggle? They brought in Grant Flinke, who had similar credentials like Ashlaw and that didn't work out. They screwed up the Batts hiring and the situation with Colbert was a mess.They basically put Al Rogers in a tough situation. At least the team seemed to improve as the year went on. Based on Rogers ties to the program and colbert's success, I find it hard to believe that Ashlaw is a better choice. I'd sure love to hear his plans for the program.

Dave Im sure you will be the first one he contacts and runs his program by. Lets not forget that Colbert benefited from having the one and two leading scorers in school history on the SAME TEAM. That is unheard of - that team should have went down state, instead Hoffman estates and Glenbrook N. went through them like a hot knife through butter. Oh yeh with all that talent Colbert never finished higher than third in the CSL conference ...what??? Take any team in the state and put the two leading scorers in school history on the same team and they ary going to be great regardless who is coaching. And I do believe Flinke started them as freshman. Rodgers improved as the season went on because of Shields.

When I hear the name Brian Colbert I think of one word: UNDERACHIEVER. Colbert inherited a team that was loaded with talent. Frazier and Gaiter became the #1 and #2 all time scorers in Waukegan Basketball history. Gaiter was an All-State selection and Frazier was honorable mention All-State. Both are now playing for Division 1 programs. Finley was a starter since his freshman year and Cruz was a starter since he was a sophomore. Vega was as talented as any point guard in the county from the past five years. Miller (who didn't even play basketball as a freshman), turned out to be Chicago Tribune Honorable Mention All-State. The list goes on and on.. Let us now examine his "big game" record. Colbert was never able to win a Conference Championship. He was routinely beaten by Evanston, New Trier, Niles West, and Glenbrook South, and his conference finish was never higher than 3rd. In route to his two Super-Sectional games Colbert walked over mediocre Lake County teams. One year he was nearly beaten by an average Highland Park team in the regional final with Highland Park's best player sitting out. He was outcoached and beaten by a less talented Hoffman Estates team in his first Super-Sectional appearance. In his second Super-Sectional appearance he had no strategy in how to beat a Glenbrook North team with one player, when he had at least four. These were two games that he should have won. In his tenure Colbert was in blatant violation of IHSA bylaws by holding illegal practices. He was punished by the IHSA with a suspension. He also displayed a lack of class and integrity by allowing his team to not shake hands with their opponents during his second Super-Sectional run. After Waukegan was beaten by Glenbrook North, Scheyer stated publicly on The Score 670 AM that he was motivated by the Waukegan players not shaking his teams hands before the game at center court. Scheyer then proceeded to score 48 points. Let us not forget that Brian Colbert is not Waukegan's Varsity Basketball Coach by his own choice. Colbert resigned. He was not fired, he was not forced out. He left on his own will. Colbert was upset that he was not hired as Athletic Director, so HE QUIT. Ron Ashlaw, I do not know you but I wish you well with this program. I have heard you are knowledgable, well-prepared, and a man of integrity. The young men of Waukegan Basketball deserve a leader that will restore class and pride in the program. God bless..

The article does not mention that, between stints at St. Benedict and U-High, Coach Ashlaw was a varsity assistant coach at St. Patrick High School under Mike Bailey. At each of the three schools, he has demonstrated integrity, ability, and a great work ethic. Some of the previous comments have been very quick to dismiss or criticize Coach Ashlaw (maybe Dave the Alumnus should be more concerned with the "unpeckable credentials" of Waukegan's English teachers...), but I wonder if the writers of the comments have ever seen him coach or work with players in the gym. He is committed and talented.

As for the reference to "this 'Class A' BS," the comment is... well, classless. Moreover, it shows a real lack of understanding of the challenge of high school coaching. With turns at a neighborhood private school (St. Benedict), a high-profile basketball program (St. Patrick), and a high-stakes academic program (U-High), Coach Ashlaw has demonstrated that he can adapt to different challenging situations.

I wish Waukegan HS the best.

A true Alum of Waukegan High cares not where the he coached at previously. Nor his track record. What we care about is what he will do for the students of WAUKEGAN HIGH TODAY. GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE. Considering as mentioned above numerous times. With the talent he has now he can do no worse, than the 2 sup sectional titles coach colbert underachieved with. Its blatant that those 2 Waukegan teams should have went down state.

Hey look its as simple as a dimple, Ashlaw equals power power power, and I"m not just talking about the good wood he lays out...I"m talking about how fierce his ability to acquire assistant coaches of the highest standard is. If you ask anyone from the U-High community, a man named coach Carden (lil' Coach) came on the scene due to Ron's prowess...if you wanna call Ron a myth...then any word for Lil' would be an understatement. Look for big things from Ron on the wood (with the wood, sure).
Simple As A Dimple,
Ashlaw is Raw

I see too much talk of what has not happened...1st this coach is an outsider, second he has not had a consistant winning record with much smaller schools. Third you must build a foundation of winning in order to be considered a winner thatis the basic elements of this coach has not been met. And the buck does not stop with the coach..When I went to Waukegan East We had the same coach with a system for at least 6 years.. In junior high we was being prepared by YMCA coaches and the previous players in that system to play. And consistant winning was what we where taught from 1981-1985 we lost a combined 16 games as a unit.. With a Avg of 22 + games won per year. The AD department is in KIOAS so are the teams..We Celebrate a state champion in one sport of another ever years with a much smaller talent pool to draw from..Remember we had a East and West High..So the Talent was split!!!! So please look to the past to restore some Glory back to Waukegan...Otto Graham would be turning over in his grave....And he played Football...Pull one of the previous players that live in the Area such as Alderman Cunningham, Dwight Newsome, ect...

i love the basketball team at waukegan with Jereme or without thier a wonderful team and i wish them the best. also HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JEREME on Friday the 13 much love your classmates class '10

Coach Ashlaw and his staff weathered a difficult first year and it has paid off. The consistency and perseverance has elevated everyone involved in this year of exciting basketball at Waukegan High School. Keep it up men!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael O'Brien published on July 18, 2007 9:54 AM.

Mike Dunigan on Oregon: "They were the only school that followed my rules." was the previous entry in this blog.

Ashlaw: "There's a lot of talent, a lot of basketball driven kids at Waukegan." is the next entry in this blog.

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