CHICAGO | Ken Mattini has won a state title and is not shy when he talks about taking the St. Francis de Sales program to that level.
"Come Nov. 4 (first day of practice), every coach's goal should be to win state," Mattin said. "That is what you play for and that is what you should have your girls shoot for."
Mattini was named girls basketball coach at the East Side Catholic high school Tuesday. He replaces Terrence Streater, who left to become the girls coach at Eisenhower. Streater took the Pioneers to new levels, winning three straight regional titles, including two straight trips to the sectional finals. Mattini said coming to a program in good shape is a blessing.
"We have something to build on," Mattini said. "That shows the kids here worked hard and know what success is. We want to continue that and take it up another notch."
Senior Jalen Burchett said there is always apprehension when a new coach comes in, but she is at ease with Mattini.
"You never know what to expect because you don't know if the new coach is going to yell at you or what," Burchett said. "We met him and we know he has our best interests and he wants to win and be successful."
Mattini won a Class A state girls basketball title at Elgin St. Edward's in 1985 and was runner-up in 1987. He also coached at Pecatonica, a small school near Rockford, and two years ago, the St. Viator grad was a freshman coach at Kenosha (Wis.) St. Joseph's.
The Wauconda resident doesn't mind the drive, which is a few miles from the Wisconsin border to a few blocks from the Indiana border. He is the caddy master at Wynstone Golf Club in Barrington.
"I really liked this place with the second-floor gym and the kids here in general," Mattini said. "You see you have great kids and part of this is not just sports, but the strong academics. That makes this attractive and a place where you can succeed."
He said one of the keys will be to get South Chicago, Hegewisch and East Side kids to stay home instead of venturing to other parochial schools.
"That is going to be the key here for all sports," he said. "We offer a lot and we have been winning, so the kids know they can have success in their own neighborhood."