Tony Young

It didn’t take long for Fenwick High School to find fill its vacant boys basketball head coaching position.

Tony Young was hired May 6 as the new coach for the Friars. He replaces Staunton Peck, who stepped down April 13 after eight seasons on the staff, including the past three as head coach.

In addition to his coaching duties, Young will serve as an assistant athletic director. 

“Coach Young brings great enthusiasm, experience running a basketball program, and a track record of developing student-athletes on and off the court,” Fenwick athletic director Scott Thies said in a press release. “Fenwick will also benefit greatly from his experience working in various leadership roles at the high school level.”

In a phone conversation with Wednesday Journal, Young said the Fenwick job is one that is hard to not be interested in. And he was excited to hear from the school during its search.

“Scott reached out to me and asked if I were interested, and I was 100 percent in. It’s a blessing to be in this position,” said Young, who recently finished a four-season stint as head coach at Marmion Academy.

Young was a decorated player in high school and college. He was a starter on Schaumburg High School’s 2002 team that knocked off top-ranked Thornwood in the state championship game. In college, he was the sixth man on the 2004 Southern Illinois University team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament. 

Upon graduation, Young was set to play overseas, but then fate led him to coaching.

“I got injured. I broke my wrist, and while I was rehabbing, my contract got canceled,” Young said. “[Then-SIU head coach] Chris Lowery invited me to come back to be his graduate assistant. We had always talked me getting into coaching, and since I didn’t have a job set up, I took his offer. From there, things took off.”

After SIU, Young went to St. Louis University, where he said he grew as a coach working under Rick Majerus and Porter Moser. Four seasons later, he became coach at East St. Louis High School, followed by stops at DFW Speer in Chicago and Marmion Academy.

As the first permanent African-American head coach for any sport in Fenwick history, he’s proud to join the school at a time where efforts are being made to increase the number of minority students and staff and create more diversity.

“My passion is watching young men and women grow into productive and successful citizens, especially those who look like me,” he said. “Fenwick has a mission of diversifying the school, and I’m more excited about that part than the actual basketball. I believe in what they’re doing.”

Young also knows about the tradition of basketball success the Friars have had over the years, and he wants nothing more than to keep it going. To accomplish this, he’ll install a system that gives the players freedom — with a caveat.

“I love doing things the right way, and I’m looking forward to bringing that mentality to this program,” said Young. “I’m not going to let you do whatever you want at the detriment of our team. I’ll let my players have their autonomy as long as they play right, but you’ve got to play defense.”

Young credited Peck for building up the program the past few seasons, and with several returning veterans, the potential is there for Fenwick to be very successful next season. He’s eager to get in the gym with the Friars and get to work, and he offered a message to the Fenwick community.

“Next year, you’ll see a team that’s motivated and plays its butt off,” Young said. “I want to make sure the kids are proud to represent Fenwick. When we do that, all the other things will fall into place.”