Rich Czeslawski has spent more than half of his 42 years on Earth involved with Crystal Lake Central basketball as a player, assistant coach or head coach.
No one had more Central in their blood than Czeslawski, which made his decision to step away as the Tigers varsity coach all the more difficult. Czeslawski announced Friday on social media that he is resigning after 13 seasons as Central’s coach.
Czeslawski, the chief operating officer of Pure Sweat Basketball, will focus his efforts on teaching players and coaches from the McHenry County area. Pure Sweat opened a new facility on Sands Road in Crystal Lake a few months ago.
“My passion from the day I got the head coaching job at Central has always been helping players and coaches,” Czeslawski said. “This is an opportunity to do it on a much broader scale. Over the last few years, all signs kind of pointed toward me needing to make a more concerted effort to do that.
“It’s been frustrating to see basketball take a back seat to other sports in our area. I would love to help the whole community raise basketball back up and shine a light on it again.”
Czeslawski’s teams were 170-198 in his 13 seasons. The Tigers were 20-12 this season and shared the Fox Valley Conference championship with Crystal Lake South. His best teams were in 2011 (24-5, Class 3A regional title), 2012 (22-6) and 2013 (25-4, Class 4A regional title).
Central athletic director Jeff Aldridge lauded Czeslawski for the time he spent with summer camps, a local summer league with other high school teams and starting a Thanksgiving tournament that each year donated to a different charity.
“First and foremost, it’s the unselfishness of him giving all the time,” Aldridge said. “He’s definitely a student of the game. He’s traveled the world learning about the game. ... Your best coaches spend that time behind the scenes doing things for their kids. He’s been selfless as far as that goes.”
Czeslawski, a 1994 Central graduate, played football, basketball and baseball there. He attended Arizona State and then returned to the Tigers to work on then-coach Jay Sargeant’s staff. He also assisted for 10 years with baseball.
Czeslawski’s work with Pure Sweat allows him to frequently travel and meet famous coaches and players. Pure Sweat is a national company that trains players from NBA to youth levels and also helps teach coaching techniques.
Jimmy Czeslawski, Rich’s 9-year-old son, has taken pictures with numerous NBA players because of his father’s basketball contacts. Jimmy has pictures with Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Zach LaVine and several other NBA stars. Czeslawski also has served on the board of directors for the National High School Basketball Coaches Association and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Pure Sweat plans to hold classes on leadership, teamwork, time management for multisport athletes, as well as doing coaching clinics. The staff also will run basketball training sessions for individual players. The 12,000-square-foot facility has classrooms and two basketball courts.
“Basically, anything around helping raise the game of basketball in this area and helping to teach players and coaches,” Czeslawski said. “That’s what we’re going to be about.”
Czeslawski feels like going out with this senior class, led by 6-foot-9 Bucknell-bound center Alex Timmerman, was fitting. He attended high school when the mothers of Timmerman and guard Will Welder were there. He competed against their fathers, who played at other District 155 schools.
“This was a really special group for me,” Czeslawski said. “Not just because I’ve known them for so long, but the way they worked together. This was just fun to be around. I couldn’t ask for a better group to step aside after coaching. It was really special.”