DeKALB – Al Biancalana has 10 years of Division I coaching experience, which he'll be using with DeKalb's boys basketball program this upcoming season.
Biancalana, who has spent the past four years as an assistant at Illinois-Chicago, was approved as the Barbs' coach at Tuesday's school board meeting.
Biancalana takes over for Dave Rohlman, who resigned in April. DeKalb also approved a new girls basketball coach – Heath Kent, who was the coach at Clayton High School in Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Kent takes over for ChrisDavenport, who also resigned.
"This is a situation where by the first time that I talked to (new DeKalb athletic director) Tom Kim about the opportunity, I was extremely impressed with his unbridled enthusiasm for the position," Biancalana said. "I have really come to appreciate his passion for building programs and the vision that he has in order to do it."
Biancalana said he also was impressed with DeKalb Principal Tamra Ropeter's support for the school's athletics programs.
"We've talked several times and each time I've came away more impressed," he said. "... I think that any time when you're in a position where your administration celebrates programs instead of tolerating them, you have a chance to build something special."
Biancalana also has Division I experience as an assistant at Bradley University from 1999-2005, and has a 313-171 record in 17 seasons as a high school coach. Biancalana has had stints at Elmhurst York (2005-10), Palos Hills Stagg (1996-99), Downers Grove North (1993-95), Clovis, Calif. (1989-93) and Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union (1987-89). In 1988, Biancalana led Washington Union to a California Division IV state title and was named California Coach of the Year.
He said the decision to come back to the high school ranks had a lot to do with being able to spend more time with his family. He has three children ages 7, 9 and 12.
Biancalana, an Elmwood Park native, was familiar with the DeKalb area after spending time recruiting as a Division I college coach, and said DeKalb High has a lot to offer when it comes to boys basketball.
"I've seen the varsity play about three or four times on film, and I think there is great potential there," Biancalana said. "What we're going to do is we're going to provide opportunities for those student-athletes that have a passion for basketball and really enjoy the camaraderie and the willingness to work as a team. I think we'll find enough people in the community to get behind that."