HS FOCUS: Stagg hires Strus, Marist hires Simpson

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Stagg’s new coach Marty Strus talks to the Chargers during the Stagg Shootout in mid-June.

Stagg got its man.

All 6-foot-10 of him.

Former Chargers standout Marty Strus has taken over the boys basketball head coaching job after an affirmative vote from Consolidated High School District 230 on Thursday night.

Strus entered Stagg as an average-size freshman in 2004 and in the next couple of years had a growth spurt that seemingly wouldn’t quit and attended Lewis University, where he destroyed the school record for blocked shots with 181 – 41 better than Austin Real.

He coached hoops on the lower levels at Lyons Township before returning to his alma mater.

Strus has been able to watch his team throughout June in summer league play.

“It’s a special opportunity,” Strus said. “It’s a new job for me coaching at the varsity level but it will be nice to do it at a place that quickly reminded me of how special of a place Stagg is. I know there will be a lot of challenges with the job but I also know there will be a lot of people there who are more than willing to help. It will be a good spot to start.’’

Strus takes over for John Daniels, who won 310 games in 14 seasons but left to help take care of his ailing father, Robert, who lives in South Bend, Ind.

 Simpson is new AD at Marist

Eric Simpson was named new athletic director, replacing Steve Smithers, who left after one year because of family issues in the Quad Cities area, where he worked before coming to Marist.

Simpson comes to Marist from Sacred Heart Schools in Chicago where he served as the athletic director. Prior to that he worked as assistant athletic director at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago and spent four years as athletic director at Marquette High School in Michigan City, Ind. 

Simpson was the head women’s basketball coach at Loyola University for four years and the assistant coach at University of Illinois at Chicago for three seasons.  He attended Northwestern University for four years on a basketball scholarship.

“Eric delivers the whole package for Marist: administrative experience, coaching experience, and first-hand knowledge of Catholic education,” Marist Principal Larry Tucker said. “We feel confident he can lead our successful program to the next level.”

Simpson said he was attracted to Marist's Catholic values and tradition of academic and athletic excellence. 

“I look forward to working with a terrific coaching staff to support student development through competition in athletics,” Simpson said. “I also understand the unique role athletics can play in generating excitement, enhancing school spirit, and connecting alumni to Marist. As athletic director, I will work to integrate the athletic programs into Marist’s core values and important mission.”  

Simpson will oversee 26 athletic programs that serve Marist’s 1,700 students, and a campus that includes a turf stadium lined for football, soccer, and lacrosse, grass soccer field, varsity and lower level fields for softball and baseball, tennis courts, three gymnasiums, and a 4,000 square foot fitness center.

In recent years, Marist has won Illinois High School Association Class 4A state titles in softball in 2012 and 2015. The team finished fourth in state in 2017.

The football team finished second in state in 2009 and 2015. The wrestling team finished second in the state in 2014. The cheerleading squad finished second in state in 2013.