Billy Pitcher has been named the new head coach of the Lake Park boys’ basketball team.
Pitcher takes over at Lake Park after leading Lake Zurich to the Class 4A regional titles in 2016 and 2018, a season during which Lake Park went just 6-19.
"A really a tough decision for me," Pitcher told the Daily Herald making it clear that his decision ran much deeper than just wins and losses.
"Having those relationships, seeing kids grow from third-or fourth-graders into varsity players, was really cool," he said of his time with the Bears. "I certainly have nothing but love and respect for Lake Zurich and everything that happened here."
Lake Zurich took a chance on Pitcher before anyone else would, hiring him in his first head coaching job at just 30 years old.
In no time at all, Pitcher was paying dividends, transforming the struggling program into a 15-win team in back-to-back seasons starting in his second year.
Overall, Pitcher went 148-103 in eight seasons at Lake Zurich, including 111 wins over the last five seasons, highlighted by 26 in 2018, one shy of the school record set during the 2004-05 season.
"One of things I'm most proud of is the relationships -- the friendships made with players, people in the community, feeder parents, teachers, other coaches," Pitcher told the Daily Herald. "The other thing that I'm proud of is that I thought we were a class program on and off the court. We were able to be very competitive, but also our kids conducted themselves well. Our players didn't get personal fouls. We weren't talking trash going up the floor. We cleaned up the bench. We were model kids when we'd go to a hotel or restaurant."
At Lake Park, Pitcher will inherit a program that despite its recent struggles is also known for its pedigree. Before last season’s 6-19 showing, the team consistently posted double-digit wins. As recently as 2015, the Lancers were sectional champs.
"They've always had really tough kids," Pitcher told the Herald. "They've had a lot of skilled players too. I've always liked that program and the area around there. It's just a real good mix of kids. Very similar to Lake Zurich."