Adam McCloud represents an example of how one door closing can often mean another will open with an opportunity. McCloud started teaching special education at Vernon Hills, but reductions in District 128 forced him to look elsewhere. The 2002 Cary-Grove graduate landed at his alma mater and four years ago took over as head basketball coach.
This season, the Trojans (31-3) won their first Fox Valley Conference championship since 2010, their second regional title in school history and more games than any team in FVC history.
C-G finished its season with a thrilling 49-46 double-overtime victory over Huntley in their Class 4A McHenry Sectional semifinal. A day before the Trojans were to play St. Charles North for the sectional title, the IHSA ended all its winter postseason series because of health concerns with COVID-19.
C-G did not get a shot to join the 2001 team, the one it passed for the school wins record, as sectional champion, but its accomplishments place it as one of the top teams the league ever produced.
McCloud is the Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, joining Dave Otto as the only C-G coach to take that honor.
C-G had 6-foot-8 Frank Jakubicek (NCAA Division I Belmont) and 6-1 Beau Frericks (D-II Lewis) leading the way, but it was McCloud steering the ship.
The Trojans recorded a 66-65 victory over Glenbrook South for the Lake Zurich Martin Luther King Tournament championship. Narrow losses to York, Waubonsie Valley and Huntley were their only losses.
McCloud thanked his assistant coaches Ron Theberge, Andy Fritz and Dan Adams for their efforts.
McCloud answered a few questions from Northwest Herald sports writer Joe Stevenson about the Trojans’ magical season.
Who is the best speaker you have ever heard at a coaches’ clinic?
McCloud: Arkansas women’s coach Mike Neighbors has been a lot of fun. I have seen him three times, he comes to Chicago a lot. He really challenges our preconceived notions as coaches. He talks a lot about coaching today’s generations and it has been helpful. He also coached the NCAA all-time women’s scoring leader Kelsey Plum at Washington and talks about developing the green light for shooters. That was very helpful with Beau, who always had the green light this year.
You tend to have that hoarse coach’s voice, kind of like your predecessor Ralph Schuetzle. How long after the season does it get back to normal?
McCloud: Oh, it’s back. After a big game it usually is back in 24 hours. I never learned how to project from the chest, so it’s all throat. I need to talk to our choir teachers on that.
What is it like to teach and coach at your alma mater?
McCloud: It’s been a blessing. Due to enrollment issues at District 128, my sections got reduced and I needed a full-time job. I was ready to accept a job at our alternative school when (former C-G principal) Jay Sargeant asked me to come interview. After he offered me the job, he said they really needed basketball coaches. Being removed for a few years before coming back was huge. It has been awesome working with so many former teachers and coaches.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals for game days?
McCloud: This year I went over to my mom’s house in Cary before every game. It is great to see her prior to games and, if she is not there, I have a nice chunk of time to relax and unwind out of the building. Also, bad habit alert, I usually drink a RedBull before our games. Drinking coffee at 5 p.m. never went down smooth. No endorsement money from them yet.
If you played baseball, what would be your walk-up music?
McCloud: I’m sure there are other good ones, but since I was little I always loved AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” My older brother Chris played football and baseball for the Trojans back in 1993. I remember replaying that song over and over on his VHS highlight tape and he caught a long TD at the very end. That song still gets me going no matter what.
What is the funniest thing an official said to you during a game?
McCloud: One official asked me if we did blocking drills with Addison West (now an offensive lineman at Western Michigan) in practice after he was called for an illegal screen during a win at last year’s Hinkle Holiday Classic. I laughed it off as I thought the call was bad. We loved the physicality Addison brought to the court.
What is the nicest gift you ever received?
McCloud: As a coach, I know Kristin Frericks (Beau's mother) has a scrapbook for me that is supposed to be given at our banquet. She sent me a sneak peak the other day and it brought me to tears. It has messages from players and my wife and kids. I can tell you it will be the best gift ever. Hopefully it will help me with some closure for our amazing season.
Now that you have some free time, what will be on your viewing list?
McCloud: Lots of movies. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “1917,” “Uncut Gems.” I just started watching “The Hunters” on Amazon Prime video. I mix in a healthy dose of “The Office” on Netflix. Selfishly, I am hoping ESPN drops the 10-part Michael Jordan/Bulls documentary early. Man, that would help everyone during this strange time.
If the FVC coaches are playing 5-on-5 and you have first pick, who are you taking?
McCloud: That would be a heck of a scene. Is (Dundee-Crown) coach (Lance) Huber playing in a sweater vest? Probably (Jacobs’ Jimmy) Roberts or (Crystal Lake South’s Matt) LePage. Good combinations of size and skill.
What is something not many people know about you?
McCloud: My original goal prior to being hired at Cary-Grove was to be a head football coach. Playing football at C-G helped me learn so much about teamwork, dedication, sacrifice, etc. I feel that I have been able to bring a lot of that to our basketball program. Being the head coach at C-G has been a blessing. I hope that all the players I have coached feel that I have impacted them as young men more so than as basketball players.