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By Mike Sandrolini
PROVISO | Coaching college basketball wasn’t something Marques Hatch thought about. But the opportunity presented itself in April, and Hatch jumped on it.
Hatch, the girls head basketball coach at Proviso West the past two seasons, was officially named women’s head basketball coach at Triton College after being approved by the college’s Board of Education last month. He replaces Kellee Robertson, with whom he served as an assistant coach at Proviso West.
Robertson, a former Proviso West girls head coach, resigned from her position at Triton. She has since moved out of state to be closer to her family.
“Triton has been great in the process of me transitioning from Proviso over to Triton,” Hatch said. “Harry McGinnis, the athletic director; Tim McKinney, the SID (Sports Information Director); and coach Kellee have made the transition as smooth as possible.”
After Robertson submitted her resignation, Hatch said “they (Triton) reached out to me and wanted to know my interest in the position.”
“I have been at Proviso for the past nine years; they were nine great years,” added Hatch, who in addition to coaching girls basketball as both an assistant and head coach, coached baseball for seven years—two as the Panthers’ varsity head coach.
“I was definitely intrigued by the possibility of moving up to the next level. It was definitely a tough decision to make, but ultimately I had to make a decision.”
Hatch said it was “very, very tough” to say goodbye to everyone at Proviso West.
“I love everything about Proviso,” said Hatch, who is a Proviso West alum. “It’s been a part of my life for the last 13, 15 years. It was definitely tough, but everyone there understood the situation. They all wished me well.
“Coaching there was one of my dreams that I was able to fulfill. I think when the doors opened up (at Triton), I wanted to step through them and everything lined up.”
Hatch led the Panthers to the West Suburban Conference Silver Division title last winter. The Panthers finished 19-9 but lost in the regional semifinals after being the No. 3 seed in their sectional.
A number of seniors graduated from last year’s team.
“It was a very interesting season with the group of seniors that graduated,” he said. “I had been coaching them since they’ve been in seventh grade. It was fulfilling for me to watch them achieve their goals, winning conference. Although the season didn’t end as we would have liked it, all seven seniors will be going on to college and continuing their education. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Proviso West grads have been instrumental in bring respectability back to the Triton women’s basketball program. Candice Madison, the third leading scorer in Triton women’s basketball history, was the school’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2014-15.
During her first year as head coach in 2015-16, Robertson—also a Proviso West alum—and the Trojans went 23-10 and advanced to the regional championship game for the first time in 22 years. Robertson was named the North Central Community College Conference (N4C) Coach of the Year that season.
“Kellee will always be a part of the program,” Hatch said. “I’m always in contact with her; she’s always been a vital part of my development as a coach.”
Coleanna Funches was named first-team all-N4C in 2015-16, while Tashianna Walton was a second-team all-N4C pick. Center Taylor Pate played for Robertson throughout Robertson’s tenure at Triton. During her freshman year, Pate established the school’s single-season record for blocked shots with 129.
Triton slipped to 13-19 last season.
Fielding a team for the 2017-18 campaign is a top priority for Hatch going forward. The Trojans had eight freshmen on their roster to begin the 2016-17 season, including Taylor Gaines (Maywood), Terri Jackson (Bellwood) and Andrionna Harper (Broadview), but it remains to be seen how many of those freshmen will return for their sophomore years.
“Right now it’s pretty late in the recruiting process,” Hatch said. “A lot of prospective students have chosen where they’re going to go (to college) already, so my biggest challenge right now is to put a team together and be able to get ready for the season.
“I’ve had a lot of friends and family that have attended Triton over the years. I’m just looking to continue what coach Kellee started, and we’ll keep up the winning tradition and try to take it even further.”
Hatch has been holding open workouts twice a week at Triton.
“I have fifth-graders through college players coming to work out on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.,” he said. “A lot of the young girls from the community are able to come out and see the facility and use the facility.”