• Val T.

Winamac expected to hire Stesiak as new girls basketball coach

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

After a five-year absence, Tony Stesiak is set to return as a high school girls basketball coach.

Stesiak will be named the new coach at Winamac, pending approval at Monday’s Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation board meeting.

The Winamac Warrior Athletics social media account announced the hiring Thursday.

Stesiak would take over a Winamac program coming off a 7-17 season. Coach Kole Kroft stepped down following a five-year run as coach.

Stesiak did not acknowledge any future job opportunities on his personal Twitter account Thursday, but he did tweet a picture of a ship and a quote that said, “A ship is safest when docked at shore, but that’s not what a ship is built for.”

Stesiak had spent the previous five seasons as a boys basketball assistant coach at Rochester. Prior to that, he was the girls basketball coach from 2000-17 at Rochester.

Stesiak’s Rochester teams had 11 winning seasons in 17 years. They won six sectionals, two regionals and Class 2A semistate and state titles in 2004.

Stesiak’s Lady Zs might also be best known for defeating No. 2 South Bend St. Joe in the sectional final and undefeated and top-ranked Benton Central in the regional semifinal during a 2015 tournament run that ended in a loss to Tippecanoe Valley in a Class 3A semistate.

The 2015-16 season ended with a regional final loss to Lafayette Central Catholic after Rochester spent the balance of the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A.

He stepped down following a 9-14 season in 2016-17.

In a reversal of roles, Stesiak then helped Rob Malchow on the Rochester boys bench – Stesiak’s sons Trey and Quin were among the players – for the next five years after Malchow had spent time on his staff helping coach Malchow’s daughters.

Stesiak had also helped on Cory Good’s baseball coaching staff at Rochester during this time.

Stesiak might be familiar to Winamac fans.

Jim Swaney’s Winamac teams knocked out Stesiak-coached Rochester teams from the sectional in 2002 and 2005 while Rochester eliminated Winamac from the sectional in 2003 and 2004. The 73-62 triumph at Winamac in the 2004 sectional final in a battle of ranked teams was one of the hallmark wins during Rochester’s state run.

Then coached by Jeff Wagner, Winamac also beat Rochester 62-59 in the 2012 sectional final at North Judson.

Winamac loses all-Hoosier North sharpshooter Kingsley Kroft, honorable mention all-Hoosier North forward Ella Gearhart to graduation and point guard Kaya Campbell to graduation. Piper Link, who averaged just over 4 ppg, is expected to be Winamac’s leading returning scorer.

Stesiak gives the Hoosier North a second state title-winning coach. Jeff Brooke coached Pioneer to the Class 1A state title in 2021. Stesiak, Brooke, Knox’s Neill Minix and Caston’s Josh Douglass have combined to win 14 sectional titles.

Winamac has not won a girls basketball sectional since 2014.

Stesiak is a LaPorte native and a Ball State grad.






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