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La Salle-Peru alumnus Luke Yaklich (kneeling) instructs his team while coaching for Joliet West High School last winter. He was hired Friday as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Illinois State University. Yaklich coached the L-P girls basketball team in 1999-00 and the L-P boys squad from 2003-07. Submitted photo
Luke Yaklich already coached for one of his alma maters.
Now he will get an opportunity to coach at another.
Yaklich — a 1994 La Salle-Peru alumnus who coached both the L-P boys and girls basketball teams — was announced Friday as a new men’s basketball assistant coach at Illinois State University, from which he graduated in 1998.
“It is amazing,” said Yaklich, who spent the last six years coaching at Joliet High School, which during his tenure split into Joliet West — where he stayed — and Joliet Central. “I’ve pinched myself a little bit because I’ve always dreamed of coaching college basketball, and to be able to go back and do it at my alma mater of ISU is incredible.
“In this process of the last three weeks, it’s just been a whirlwind and so exciting. Some things happen in life and this is just an opportunity that I am fortunate enough to have and couldn’t pass up.”
The 37-year-old La Salle native was first contacted about the position in late June by ISU coach Dave Muller, a longtime friend.
After being one of a handful of interviews, Yaklich officially accepted the position on Thursday, three weeks after first being approached.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn and to grow in the profession of coaching and to play a role in the development of a championship program in the Missouri Valley Conference,” Yaklich said. “I’m very excited to work for coach Muller and his staff. He has amazing assistants and coach Muller is just such an intelligent, smart and up-and-coming coach. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and be around some great basketball people.”
After starring at L-P, Yaklich played two seasons at IVCC before he became the student assistant/manager for two years at ISU while Muller was a player.
The two stayed friends throughout the years, during which Yaklich served as the L-P girls coach for the 1999-2000 season, the Sterling boys coach from 2000-03 and the L-P boys coach from 2003-07 before he left for Joliet, where he went 104-62 and won two Class 4A regionals in six seasons.
“Coach Muller and I became close friends and we’ve stayed in touch over those 15-16 years,” said Yaklich, who named Muller the godfather of his oldest daughter Olivia, now 13. “We’ve had just a lot of coaching discussions, and he always knew I had a strong desire to become a college coach at some point, so when he had an opening on his staff I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview and ultimately be selected for the job. I was ecstatic and feel very blessed to accept the position.”
In addition to coaching at ISU, Yaklich will handle the team’s academic aspects as well as be involved in recruiting, scouting and skill development.
Last winter in Muller’s first season, the Redbirds went 18-15 and 8-10 in the MVC as they advanced to the MVC Tournament semifinals, where they fell to Wichita State.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
Article comment by:
Could not happen to a better guy!!
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