Joliet native Marc Howard believes he’s ready to be a basketball head coach on the high school level.
Former Joliet Township coach Mike O’Connell, Lockport coach Lawrence Thompson Jr. and former University of St. Francis coach Pat Sullivan agree. They put in a good word for him.
Romeoville athletic director Jim Boudouris and the Romeoville administration liked what they saw and heard from Howard, who received board approval this week to replace Jeff Bambule as Spartans boys coach.
Bambule spent 22 years in the program, 13 as head coach. He stepped aside after last season for family reasons.
“My thanks to coach O’Connell, Larry Thompson and Pat Sullivan for stepping up and supporting me, and I’m grateful to Jim Boudouris and (Romeoville principal) Derek Kinder for this opportunity,” Howard said. “All I wanted was to be a head basketball coach, and I really believe Romeoville is a gold mine. I’m excited.”
Howard was a role player in the Joliet combined program in the 1990s. “I was on the 30-1 team (1993-94) that had Ty Calderwood and Gary Bell,” he said.
Howard went on to play at Joliet Junior College, has coached in the programs at Providence, Joliet and Joliet West, and had a two-year stint as an assistant with Atlanta Vision in the American Basketball Association, which was owned by Joliet’s Quentin Townsend. Howard also spent five seasons as head coach of the 17U Joliet Cougars AAU team.
The past two winters, he joined Gary Sonnenberg on the Joliet West bench as an assistant for Luke Yaklich, now an assistant at Illinois State. West was 36-18 in that span and won a regional last season.
Boudouris said Howard being in private business and not a teacher “helped us in this instance.” Romeoville does not have any available teaching positions.
“Marc has experience,” Boudouris said. “He has a lot of knowledge of basketball in the Will County area. He is bringing in some ideas.
“He is only the second boys basketball coach I’ve been involved in hiring, We’re leaving the Jeff Bambule era. Hopefully, Marc can be the same staple for our basketball program that Jeff was.”
Howard, who said he has “great candidates” interested in joining his staff, plans on the Spartans, who are coming off a 5-22 season, being “bulldogs on the defensive end. We will bring intensity, confidence and determination.
“On the offensive end, we will be uptempo, spread the floor, try to create opportunities to score. Romeoville is going to get introduced to exciting basketball.”
And, Howard thinks, it can be winning basketball.
“Romeoville has had great teams and players through the years,” he said. “They had it once and we can bring it back to that exciting level. From what I have seen of the (Southwest Prairie) conference, it’s pretty wide open. Different teams are on top different years. I feel we can be right in the mix.”
Howard credits basketball for the success he’s had in life. He runs a family owned day care center in Joliet, and he and his brother, Kenneth, have a small real estate business.
“I like having the opportunity to mold young men,” he said. “I like to use basketball as a means to success after high school.”
Howard and his wife, Charlene, live in Joliet.