Tom Kleinschmidt is back where he belongs at Gordon Tech

Like many working-class Catholic schools, Gordon Tech had fallen on hard times, a robust enrollment of nearly 3,000 boys dipping below 500 due to changing demographics and a bad economy. A decision to go coed and an ambitious marketing campaign are intended to spark a revival — enrollment is above 500, the freshman class is the largest of the school’s four and more than 200 eighth-graders took last month’s entrance exam.

Hiring Kleinschmidt and fellow Gordon great Carl Maniscalco to assist him is another part of that revival. The last of Gordon Tech’s 12 Catholic League titles came in 2000. The Rams were buried under a 30-game conference losing streak when Kleinschmidt arrived. It ended with an improbable victory over St. Joe’s. Saturday’s victory over UIC Prep was their 14th of the season.

The 41 points they managed represented a decent night for Kleinschmidt and Maniscalco in their playing days, but the Rams held Leo to 26 with good execution of a switch-and-trap defense they had practiced.

“It’s a process, and I have to be patient,” Kleinschmidt says. “They’re kids, and they can only do what they can do. Relationships are more important than technical stuff at this level. I’m trying to teach responsibility and accountability. If you’re a minute late, you’re late. If you get detention, you don’t practice. And if you don’t come with energy, effort and passion, you won’t see the floor.”

The Rams don’t have to look far to see energy, effort and passion personified.

“Tom’s going to be a better coach than he was a player,” Chabura says. “The way he communicates, how the kids respond to him — it’s really something.”

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