The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

DeNard Resigns as Coach After Leading Latin Basketball to Historic Success

Steve Silk: @silkysmoothpix on Instagram
Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Aubrey DeNard post game.

After a historic season that saw the varsity boys basketball team advance to the super-sectionals, head coach Aubery DeNard has stepped down.

Mr. DeNard began coaching at Latin in 2010. He assisted then-head boys varsity basketball coach David VanderMeulen for three years, left to coach at St. Rita High School for their 2013-14 season, and then returned to Latin as a teacher and assistant varsity coach. In 2019, he took over as head coach when Mr. VanderMeulen retired. Mr. DeNard served as head boys varsity coach for five years. He has inspired players and left a legacy for the Latin basketball community.

“I thought about [stepping down] last year, I thought about it a year before that, I thought about it every single year I coached because I know I’m a really good coach,” Mr. DeNard said. “I think about it every year, but this year, I knew it was going to be the last year, because I knew we were going to accomplish the goals that I set up,” he said.

Although Mr. DeNard knew the team was bound for success this season, not everyone did.

“People on the outside told me that I would never win at Latin,” he said. “I took that as a challenge, and I told myself I’m going to win here, and I’m not going to stop until I do. I’m making history here at the school, winning the first-ever sectional and only sectional.”

He added, “I accomplished my goal, and I think it’s time to give the reins to the next person.”

As head coach, Mr. DeNard places a consistent emphasis on the future of both the players and the team.

“I’m a visionary,” he said. “I have visions of the future based on the amount of work I put in. So I knew those freshmen were going to be really good as seniors; they were already good as freshmen. I knew that if I gave them the right tools, they would be successful.”

Senior Calvin King IV came to Latin his freshman year with a passion for basketball–a passion shared by his coach.

Coach Aubery DeNard speaks to Nick Rotter during game. (Cherish Curtis)

“He called me plenty of times, building me up and telling me what he needed me to work on, telling me to always be confident in myself and never falter. No coach has ever done that for me,” Calvin said. “I couldn’t ask for any other coach.”

Mr. DeNard announced to Calvin and the rest of the team at the Winter Sports Banquet that this would be his final year coaching the varsity squad.

“It wasn’t so hard to tell those guys, because there were 11 seniors, so they were leaving, too,” Mr. DeNard said. “But it is hard to tell someone like Rohin [Shah], who’s a freshman who looks up to me, who was on varsity, who thinks that I’m going to be his coach for the next four years.”

But the goodbye isn’t all bittersweet—Mr. DeNard is certainly ending on a high note.

“The beauty of the season was that we brought the community more together. Us making this run in the playoffs, going really far, brought people out, brought administrators out, brought teachers out, brought the community out and together.”

He added, “We were all trying to accomplish the same goal. We all wanted to win as a school. We all had that school spirit that we should have more of. What I’m hoping that came out of that situation is that we realized that we can not only be excellent in the classroom, but we can be excellent on the playing field.”

Mr. DeNard started training senior Brendan Berman seven years ago, before Brendan attended Latin.

“He kind of referred me to the school,” Brendan said. “He helped me meet people here and find my place.”

Despite stepping down as head coach, Mr. DeNard will remain in the Latin community as a physical education teacher in the Lower School. Outside of this commitment, he has another way to devote his time.

Alongside his brother, Mr. DeNard started a nonprofit called the DeNard Bros. The program is rooted in community outreach—they aim to help players acquire both academic and athletic scholarships and connect them to other Chicago basketball players and professionals.

“We have exclusive access to that due to our reputation. So we want to be able to utilize that access. We have to create cohesion in the city and maybe lower crime rates at certain times. Maybe create more exploration and maybe mix and match this community with those communities so we can create more diverse people.”

Mr. DeNard says he was inspired to start DeNard Bros by his childhood on the West Side of Chicago.

“I wasn’t provided opportunities to be able to get away from certain crime activity and gang activity,” he said. “Hence, why I didn’t play basketball in high school. People didn’t know about me.”

Mr. DeNard added, “I manifested what I wanted to be in the future. I wanted to be someone that helps educate people, a teacher, a coach, a mentor to people who look like me or look like others—or people who are in distress or people who just need that push to achieve their greatness.”

Though the process to select a replacement has begun, no official decision has been made. In the Latin basketball community, there are bets on Mr. DeNard’s assistant coach, Justin Halloran.

“The dynamic of the team will definitely shift with Coach Justin Halloran,” Calvin said. “He can be strict, and he will let you know what you need to improve on, but he doesn’t do it using the same method as DeNard.”

Although they are different, Mr. DeNard has full confidence in Mr. Halloran.

“I think I’m leaving the program in good hands if he is [head coach],” he said. ”And of course, I’ll be at all the games, all the home games for sure, and some of the away games trying to cheer those guys on and to keep that legacy going that we started building.”

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About the Contributors
Caroline McHugh
Caroline McHugh, Opinions Editor
Caroline McHugh (’25) is back for another year of writing for The Forum! During her junior year, Caroline will be serving as an Opinions Editor. Since her freshman year, Caroline has written articles discussing social media and various events throughout the school.
Cherish Curtis
Cherish Curtis, Sports Editor
Cherish Curtis (‘26) is a sophomore at Latin and is thrilled to serve as a Sports Editor this year. She understands the importance of preserving memories and through the use of photojournalism, Cherish hopes to further her photography and bring readers a unique understanding of different topics. Beyond the school’s newspaper, she enjoys collecting records, studying psychology, and going on walks.

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    AriyaMay 8, 2024 at 7:13 pm

    Great article Caroline!