After 13 seasons Jon Deeb stepped down as head coach of the Roxbury boys basketball team on Monday night after becoming vice principal at Roxbury High School.
Deeb steps down just months after the Gaels finished 15-9, advanced to the Morris County Tournament quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed and won a division title for the first time in 55 years.
“It’s a degree I earned about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been teaching and coaching for nearly 20 years and have nearly 20 years of work to go,” Deeb said. “I have a family now and it was a career move where I could try something different and work my way through the administration, it was difficult to give up coaching and the classroom, they were both things I loved a lot but it’s the right career move for me and my family at this time.”
Along with having to find a new head coach, the Gaels will also have to find a new assistant and freshman coach as well. Deeb said he told his team on Tuesday of the changes the program will have to face.
“We have 10 seniors and they’re concerned obviously because they’re going into their senior year not knowing who is going to be their coach,” Deeb said. “The assistants I’ve had are also kind of moving on, even before this opportunity came up for me, so there’s a likely chance it will be an all new staff at Roxbury. It’s a big change for them, we’ve been together for a few years and they probably have some concerns but I assured them there will be a lot of good coaches interested in the job and they’ll be in good shape next year.”
Roxbury athletic director Stu Mason said he’s already received a few applications, and would like have a head coach in place before filling out the other two assistant coach positions.
“We just started the process and we’ve had a couple of applicants so far, it’s something we want to get into place as soon as possible, we’re just waiting for the right fit,” Mason said. “We want to keep the program going in a positive direction, we’ve had some success and we want to build on that.”
Jack Clevenger, a forward who will be a senior in the fall, said the team knew about a week ago that Deeb might be leaving, but hearing it from their coach still came as a blow.
“It was a shock and then we heard he’s going to be the vice principal so we’re happy for him, it’ll all be ok,” Clevenger said. “At first we were a little shocked, we had no idea, we thought he would be our coach next season. We have a good group of seniors coming back so we’ll all get together and keep practicing until we find out who the new coach is going to be.”
Deeb said he had already set up a summer full of league games and tournaments for his team in order to get ready for the winter season, but Clevenger said the Gaels won’t be participating in the Hopatcong Summer League, which starts next week.
“It just caught us off guard, the seniors will put stuff together throughout the summer to keep us in basketball shape when the season comes,” Clevenger said. “We’re basically acting like coaches now because we don’t have a lot of order because we don’t have a coach, but we’re putting things together.”
Despite having to step away from coaching, Deeb is grateful for the 13 years he had with the Gaels and feels the season Roxbury had this winter was the perfect send-off.
“We went out on a high note, the 13 years I was with Bob Capra, who played at Roxbury and was my assistant the entire time. We feel very proud of what we accomplished in those 13 years, we had some good years with the county tournament and semifinals and finals and a lot of firsts for Roxbury,” Deeb said. “We feel good with what we accomplished. For both of us it was time to move on to something else, it was difficult to do but I’m looking forward to new things.”
Staff Writer Lauren Knego: 973-428-6674; firstname.lastname@example.org