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Back Coaching High School Basketball, Chuck Driesell Returns To His Roots

April 15, 2016
Chuck Driesell went back to high school from college this year and did just fine. In fact, he loved it.

Driesell, the 53-year-old son of former longtime Maryland men's head basketball coach Lefty Driesell, has held coaching jobs at several colleges during the last three decades. The Citadel did not renew his head coaching contract after the 2014-15 season, and Driesell became an assistant at San Jose State in April 2015 before Maret -- a private school in Northwest Washington, D.C., for grades K through 12 -- called about a month later.

Maret (pronounced Ma-ray) offered Driesell a job as the head coach of the boys' basketball team, and he accepted the position. The Frogs went 18-12 this past season, and Driesell said he truly enjoyed being back at the high school level.

"It was an awesome year, both on and off the court," Driesell said. "I thought we had a tremendous year. It was really a pleasure coaching these young men."

Much of Driesell's coaching career has been in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area. He was an assistant at James Madison under his father (1989-1996) and was also an assistant at Georgetown (2003-04) and at Maryland (2006-2010). Driesell also served as head coach at the Naval Academy Prep school (1985-88), Marymount University (1997-2003) and the Citadel for five seasons until last year.

But Driesell also worked as a head coach at Bishop Ireton, a private school in Alexandria, Va., from 2004-06, an experience he enjoyed and something that made him think when the Maret offer came along -- even though it was in high school and he'd already been working with San Jose State for a few weeks.

"For whatever reason, my time at Bishop Ireton was such a great experience," he said. "It was really something that I enjoyed and got a lot out of. It was very refreshing. I leaned a lot on my experience at Ireton [this year at Maret]."

Driesell also worked as a physical education teacher at Maret and praised the school's administration's support of both the students and faculty.

Driesell understands the emphasis on winning in college basketball. Victories translate into publicity and interest, which also turns into dollars in the bank.

"There's certainly a lot more pressure to win in [college] and to build a successful program, not just from within … [because] there's a lot more outside pressure at college," Driesell said. "It's a money-making endeavor for those schools, and I get it."

Driesell said returning to high school coaching also meant shedding another college-level obligation -- recruiting. It's a tough job that puts college coaches on the road, something Driesell enjoyed not having to do at Maret.

"In terms of the whole picture, I think you can have a much better quality of life," Driesell said. "There's a lot to be said for that. I haven't been in a hotel room all year long, haven't been on a plane … all of which you do at the college level. There's just a better quality of life I had this year."

Driesell is trying to work his way into the Maret community. He wants to help his players learn about basketball, enjoy the game and maybe even help some of them advance to the college level.

In fact, Driesell said what he's doing at Maret is nothing different than the way he worked at his college jobs.

"I put the same amount of pressure on myself in high school as I do in college," Driesell said. "Whatever you do, you [want] to do a good job."

Driesell probably deals with pressure that other coaches don't due to his last name. Lefty Driesell became one of the best-known basketball coaches in the country during his glory days at Maryland (1969-1986). His gregarious personality and relentless drive to win helped make the Terps one of the nation's top programs on a regular basis.

Chuck Driesell said he's fine with being the son of someone so well-known -- and being in the same business. He does not have any issues with it and probably never will. In fact, Chuck Driesell is proud to be the son of someone like Lefty.

"It's not hard for me at all," Chuck Driesell said. "It's awesome when people come up to me and say how great he is. I'm doing the best I can. I love coaching. I love the game and am very similar to my dad. He was awesome."

Issue 220: April 2016