Time will tell if Andy Bitto got the right man for the job when the Carmel High School athletic director tabbed Dann Giesey to replace Joe May as head of one of the top prep baseball programs in the state.
But if first impressions count for anything, the former Johnsburg High School coach (last six years) will, at the very least, be able to maintain the Corsairs’ tradition of excellence in the sport.
And possibly even take the program to new heights.
Monday night, in the 110-degree oven that also is known as the old gym at Carmel, Giesey met with his new team and their parents, and showed early on why Bitto plucked him away from Johnsburg.
In as organized a presentation as you’re ever going to get from a new coach at the prep level, Giesey explained his philosophy and hopes, and outlined a game plan for success.
Every head in the house was nodding in approval almost all of the time.
“Our priority at Carmel is God and family first, academics second, and athletics third,” said Bitto of his selection. “I asked him about faith, how he felt about praying with the kids. We wanted a leadership image that reflected the families and community that he’s going to be part of. That’s a big deal for us.
“Academically, 100 percent of our kids go on to college. It’s a high-powered academic environment. We don’t just change clothes and go out to play baseball. We change clothes and it’s an extension of the classroom. Those things were important, in that order.”
The coach also mentioned the important of hiring a coach who’s organized.
And Giesey most definitely is that.
For his part, Giesey made these points to the nice-size crowd in attendance:
■ “I’ve had a long tenure in everything I do. I’m not here for the short term. I’m here for the long term. That means starting off making the right decisions from the start.”
■ “We’re going to honor God every day on the field and between the lines. It’s an important part of everything we do.”
■ “As parents, you look at Carmel because of it’s excellence in academics. We want to match that with excellence in athletics.”
■ “I have to Carmelize myself and get up to speed on the school’s athletic regulations, but I’d love to get the players involved in camps and events in the area. When a young player sees one of our players wearing a Carmel jersey, that means a lot. I know that’s something that made an impression on me when I played. Sometimes being the best players we can be means teaching the game to other players. It makes us really think about why we do things the way we do.”
Giesey was the head coach at Johnsburg since the 2007 season. In 2009, he coached the Skyhawks to their first regional title since 1983 and their first-ever sectional-final appearance. They lost in the 3A sectional final to Grayslake Central. He had a 6-6 playoff record with the Skyhawks and his teams won 78 games during his tenure.
Giesey has also been heavily involved in the McHenry County high-school travel scene, running the McHenry County Hurricanes’ 18-under team. Eighty-six of his Hurricanes players have gone on to play in college.