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Chaz Taft talks to his South Elgin players during a December game against Jacobs. Taft has been named head coach at Waubonsie Valley. | Michele du Vair~For Sun-Times Media
Chaz Taft, the boys varsity basketball coach for seven years at South Elgin, will succeed Steve Weemer at Waubonsie Valley. He was introduced to players in the program Tuesday morning after telling his Storm players he would be leaving their program on Monday.
“I’ve always been intrigued with Waubonsie Valley and the district. I just always thought it was a great combination of academics and athletics,” said Taft, who grew up in Bensenville and played high school ball at Fenton and in college at North Park University.
Chris Neibch, currently the athletic director at Larkin, will replace retiring Waubonsie Valley AD Mike Rogowski in the coming school year. Neibch was the sophomore coach at South Elgin under Taft before starting his administrative career.
“I think it was very well done,” Neibch said of the search he took part in along with Rogowski and Waubonsie Valley Principal Jason Stipp. It started with 40 applicants screened initially by Rogowski.
“I’m definitely familiar with (Taft) since we coached together,” continued Neibch. “You don’t find too many coaches with the energy and preparation as him. He’s a basketball guy.”
Stipp said he came away from the interview impressed with Taft’s “work ethic and passion for the game. I’m impressed with what I think will be his ability to help our players reach their highest potential.”
Taft has not been approved by the District 204 school board but does not have to be “for a stipend position,” noted Stipp.
“This does not involve a teaching position so it did not need to be board approved,” he continued. “We wanted to move on the coaching position because we want to keep continuity with the summer program.”
Taft is a physical education teacher at South Elgin and has not resigned that post. It’s conceivable he could continue to teach at the school and coach at Waubonsie Valley, much like former Wheaton North coach Jim Nazos did this past season when he took the basketball job at Batavia.
School officials and Taft, though, hope a position for him will open up at Waubonsie Valley so he is working in the building next year.
Weemer stepped down after coaching the Waubonsie Valley varsity for eight years following last season to continue pursuit of his administrative degree.
Taft coached the South Elgin freshman team when the school opened in 2005 with only two classes. Former Elgin coach Jim Harrington coached the sophomores that year but then stepped down and Taft became the school’s first varsity coach the following season with a team featuring no seniors.
He began his coaching career as girls varsity coach for one season at Notre Dame in Chicago in 2003 and then coached one year as an assistant to Mike Bailey at St. Patrick in 2004 before moving to South Elgin.
“That’s two of the best guys in the game, I couldn’t have had better mentors to work with to start my career,” said Taft, adding that he plans to have the Warriors “run and create a lot of havoc” with defensive pressure.
His Storm team slowed it down last year and was hurt by the transfer of would-be senior guard Jake Maestranzi to Niles Notre Dame the previous summer.
“We had to adapt and play a different style than I’d like to,” said Taft. “When it comes down to it, you have to do what gives you the best chance to win.”
In seven years his Storm teams went 91-107 with one regional title (2010-11), topping out with back-to-back seasons of 19-9 and 18-10 from 2008-10. Last year’s team struggled to a 5-23 mark.