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posted: 2/19/2010 12:01 AM

McCuiston watches with a whole new perspective

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  • Driscoll Catholic High school girls basketball hard coach Steve McCuiston in the back, and his girls basketball team celebrates their State champions class 2A, Tuesday, during a rally at the school, in Addison.

       Driscoll Catholic High school girls basketball hard coach Steve McCuiston in the back, and his girls basketball team celebrates their State champions class 2A, Tuesday, during a rally at the school, in Addison.
    Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer


Steve McCuiston does ponder the year gone by from time to time and wonders what if.

This week he thinks about it a little more.

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It is this week ahead last year that the 50-year-old former Proviso West and Northern Illinois guard was living a coach's dream. Leading kids who came up through the Driscoll program with him in his first head coaching job. Winning the school's first state girls basketball championship.

Many of those girls are playing postseason basketball this week but with different school colors after Driscoll closed its doors last spring.

"You're turning a new page," McCuiston said, "and they're turning a new page."

McCuiston doesn't have to look far to recall Driscoll's greatness.

A framed Daily Herald back page from the day after Driscoll's championship hangs in his Bloomingdale home. Soon the championship trophy will be on display at the Addison Village Hall.

But the biggest reminders are still on the basketball court.

At Immaculate Conception ex-Driscoll starters Kasey and Taylor Reaber and Allie DiVito have given the Elmhurst school its best season and first sectional final appearance since 1980. Courtney Lindfors led Elk Grove to a 21-win season. Shaquira and Shaquina Scott are big contributors at Loyola.

McCuiston hasn't missed the big moments.

A fixture at several of IC's and Elk Grove's big games, there is McCuiston sitting courtside with ex-assistants (and dads) Frank Reaber and Tony DiGrazia at games.

The team might have been fractured under the most unusual circumstances.

The familial bond hasn't broken one bit.

"The fact that it wasn't your normal transition with the abruptness probably has made a bigger impact," McCuiston said, "and not only on us. A lot of the Driscoll football kids still follow their teammates at other schools. The fact that you actually have kids in high school playing on different teams, I don't know if there's an easy way to describe it."

One thing McCuiston will not do is coach from the stands. He rarely says anything to his ex-players during games. He might offer an occasional text message of encouragement or advice, but that is it.

"The last thing they need is distractions," he said. "You gotta let their coaches do their thing."

McCuiston hasn't dipped his feet back into the coaching pool just yet. He coached Taylor Reaber on the Full Package Lady Lightning Silver AAU team last year. This summer he plans to just evaluate players.

There was some contact with York and Resurrection about coaching openings, but neither led to interviews. At 50 and still even playing a little pickup, McCuiston isn't ready to give up the basketball bug.

Most of all, he misses coaching and the kids.

Making McCuiston's options a little more limited is he would not be an in-school coach/teacher, having worked for 16 years in sales with Fabreeka International.

Like Driscoll, a school has to offer flexibility and the right fit.

"I don't know what that fit is," McCuiston said. "I don't have to be in a position that's at the top, but I do want to be in the position where the school has reasonably good players coming in on a regular basis. When you've been the low man on the totem pole and worked your way up, it's hard to go back there. I gotta have kids that love the game of basketball."

What McCuiston appreciates most watching his Driscoll kids is how they have blended seamlessly into their new programs.

"I take pride in their mental toughness," he said, "and their will to win. What's really heartening to me is watching how well the kids have adjusted. They've made good friends at new schools and earned their mutual respect. It's fun to watch."

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