Girls Basketball: Stagg’s Bill Turner named coach of the yearStagg's head coach Bill Turner shouts instructions from the side line. Oak Forest vs. Stagg girls baksetball at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Illinois, Tuesday, January, 3, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times
Updated: March 21, 2012 9:31PM
A lot of dads think they can coach.
Bill Turner actually proved it.
Not that he was out to prove anything when he volunteered in 1997 to be an assistant for the club team on which his daughters were playing.
“Basketball was simply an opportunity to coach them a little,” he said. “It was more a fun thing. I figured it would be the only chance that I would have to coach them. And I was just helping out. It’s not like I was calling all the shots.”
These days, Turner is calling all the shots as the head coach at Stagg, where enthusiasm for girls basketball has suddenly been renewed.
The Chargers finished 19-7 this season, a huge improvement from 11-19 in 2010-11. They also won the school’s first SouthWest Suburban Red title, and the first in any conference since 2001.
“A bunch of great kids, that’s for sure,” said Turner, the Beggars Pizza/SouthtownStar Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. “I think this team had great chemistry among them, they worked really hard in the offseason, and they had a great attitude. I think they overachieved, to tell you the truth.”
Turner, a Stagg graduate, completed his seventh year at Stagg, his third as the head coach. His previous experience was at the club level, where he started out coaching daughters Adrienne and Angela.
Turner was a baseball and basketball player in high school, and played baseball at Carthage College. He didn’t try to overthink things during his early days of basketball coaching.
“In club, you’ve got some players out there who are obviously pretty talented,” he said. “So we ran some basic offense, and the girls played. It‘s not like you have to be a mastermind with the X’s and O’s when you’ve got talent out there.”
Turner’s youngest daughter, Adrienne, one of Stagg’s top players in the mid-1990s, was a member of Brian Ade’s staff as a varsity assistant in 2003 when her father made his services available.
“I played basketball and baseball there, and I wanted to give something back,” Turner said.
Turner served as a volunteer assistant for Ade, and then Pete Gabel, while working full-time as the deputy chief of police for the Palos Heights police department. When Gabel resigned his position following the 2008-09 season, Turner applied for and got the job. He then retired from the police department.
Turner’s first Stagg team finished 16-12. The following season a small and young team got off to an 0-10 start before winning its first game at the Hillcrest Holiday Classic. The Chargers would play better than .500 ball the rest of the season.
“Toward the end of the season we got on a pretty good roll,” Turner said. “We beat a very good Andrew team in the regional. I think they started believing that even though an opponent was maybe taller or talented, if you stayed with it and kept on playing to your potential, you can do it. They bought into it, and it carried into this season.
“We’re not going to be much bigger next year. Hopefully, with most of the same nucleus returning, we’ll be able to carry it through and keep this going.”