By Marty Farmer
The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys basketball program will host a pre-game ceremony honoring head coach Tom McCloskey before Friday's game against visiting Aurora Central Catholic (Feb. 10/7 p.m.).
The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. (half-hour before tip-off) in order to recognize and celebrate McCloskey and his record-setting career at RBHS. McCloskey is retiring at the end of this year.
Among many honors, McCloskey has accomplished the following as the Bulldogs' head coach: 15 consecutive conference championships (2001-current) at RBHS and 21 straight league titles overall (1999-2000; 2000-2001), Illinois Basketball Coaches Association District Coach of the Year 9 times, and his RBHS teams have a 312-123 (73.4%) record since 2001, including a 154-17 (92.1%) conference record.
McCloskey has also guided the Bulldogs to 1 IHSA Sectional Championship, 4 IHSA Regional Championships, the 2001 Jack Tosh York Christmas Tournament title, 6 Bill Vandemerkt Thanksgiving Classic Championships, and the 2003 Jack Tosh York Christmas Consolation Championship.
Coach McCloskey's overall career record in 25 years as a head coach (21 at RBHS; 4 at Montini) is 433-233 (65.9%).
McCloskey's best team was the 2015 Bulldogs (28-4) who edged Morton 66-61 to win the first sectional title in progam history. Featuring a star-studded lineup of Sam Johnson, Mark Smith, Henry Trelenberg, Daniko Jackson and Jalen Clanton, that team finished with the most wins in a single season.
Paul Sitkiewicz, who played forward on that remarkable team which finished 28-4, carries an indelible memory of McCloskey most RBHS supporters can identify with regarding the veteran coach.
"When Coach McCloskey cut down the last piece of the net and threw his hands up in the air, I felt so happy for him," Sitkiewicz said. "I knew he was the person that deserved that moment the most."
On April 30, 2016, McCloskey was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
His daughter Maggie is a fellow inductee in the 2016 class. She had a prolific career as a sharp-shooting guard at RBHS and Loyola University.
"It's a great honor that's even more special because I'm sharing it with Maggie," McCloskey said. "I've been fortunate to have a lot of great players and coaches and a very supportive family."
McCloskey's son, Danny, played for him at RBHS and Molly (his other daughter) played basketball and volleyball at RBHS. She also played volleyball at Lake Forest College. And then there's his wife, Mary Jo, the unsung hero of Team McCloskey.
McCloskey's passion for basketball is a given.
"The idea of coaching kind of hit me in college," McCloskey said. "I decided it was something I really wanted to do and went full steam ahead."
"I really enjoy practice," he said. "I think it's great when you have a really good week of practice and everybody is on the same page. Then the players execute during a game what we talked about all week. You never stop learning."
All are encouraged to attend Friday's Metro Suburban Conference game against Aurora Central Catholic at 7 p.m., with a 6:30 pre-game ceremony honoring the stellar career of McCloskey.
www.riversidebrookfieldbasketball.com contributed to this story.