RANTOUL — The start of a new season also marks the beginning of a new era in boys’ basketball at Rantoul.
A week after veteran Brett Frerichs resigned as Eagles’ head coach, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley graduate A.J. Richard was promoted to head coach.
“It has always been my dream to be a head coach and see where it takes me,” said Richard, a high school history, sociology and psychology teacher who has assisted for five years. “I’ve had a lot of good teachers along the way.”
Frerichs was his most recent mentor.
“Brett prepared me well,” Richard well. “He did a great job of teaching me different aspects of the game. He’s a great coach, a great friend, a good guy and I hate to see him go.”
Frerichs resigned last Tuesday for work-related reasons. He works for BSN Sports in Rantoul.
“Unfortunately, it’s a decision I had to make,” said Frerichs, a 1990 Rantoul grad who has coached basketball in the district since 1996.
Frerichs made the announcement to the team last Wednesday.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “These seniors, my first year (as boys’ coach) was their freshmen year and you become close with the kids.”
Eight of the 13 players on this year’s varsity are seniors. Frerichs is confident that Richard is ready for the job.
“He knows the game and has the respect of the kids,” Frerichs said. “He’ll be very good with them.”
Frerichs said he will continue to follow the program. “I’m always going to be a fan of Rantoul,” he said. “I’ll definitely go and support the team. It would be harder to stay away.”
Richard said his main points of emphasis will be “play up-tempo and get in their face and guard people.”
As for expectations, he added, “we’ll focus on getting better every single day and see where that takes us.”