||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
New Leyden girls basketball coach Drewann Pancratz graduated from college in May, making her one of the youngest coaches in the state. | George M. Wilcox~Sun-Times Media
Drewann Pancratz should be able to relate to her players, after all she is only five years older than many of her seniors.
Pancratz became one of the youngest varsity coaches in the state when Leyden officials announced in May that the former Schaumburg star would become its next girls basketball coach to replace Michele Szatko, who went 11-77 in three years.
Pancratz graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., that month and also was hired as a physical education teacher and as a sophomore girls volleyball coach.
She will turn 23 on Dec. 18.
“I think her (young) age is an advantage. We come to her more,” Leyden senior center Justyna Chojnowski said.
It took three games for Pancratz to earn her first career victory Tuesday with a 48-42 win over Northside in the second round of the Fenton-Addison Trail Thanksgiving tournament. One of Pancratz’s students in class, sophomore guard Alondra Chevarria, led Leyden with 16 points. Pancratz did something the Eagles (1-2) were unable to do last season, which was win a regular season game. Leyden went 1-28 a year ago and earned its only win in the Class 4A playoffs with a 61-28 victory over Schurz.
The Eagles’ last regular season win as 43-30 over Ridgewood on Feb. 10, 2011.
Leyden plays Lane Tech Wednesday in Addison Trail to end its Thanksgiving tournament. The Eagles open the West Suburban Gold Dec. 1 at Downers Grove South, but are 2-34 the last three years in the conference.
Pancratz might look like a big sister to many of her players, but she took over as coach starting with offseason workouts in the summer and the team participated in a summer league.
Drewann has followed her mother, Schaumburg girls volleyball coach Jeanette Pancratz, into the high school coaching ranks. Drewann played volleyball for her mother and basketball for former coach Bill Murmann at Schaumburg before playing both sports at Carthage. She became the school’s all-time assists leader in volleyball with 4,656 assists over four years.
“In high school, I was to into sports to know what I wanted to,” Drewann said. “Once I got into college, I knew I wanted to get into coaching.”
Members of Pancratz’s family attended their first Leyden game Nov. 17 in the opening round of the Fenton-Addison Trail Thanksgiving tournament. Addison Trail won 52-41. Her parents, Andy and Jeanette, cheered from the bleachers along with her older brother Jake and some family friends. Drewann is named after her father, Andrew, who played at Hersey and then at DePaul for legendary coach Ray Meyer. Drewann is the youngest of their four children. All of them played basketball at Schaumburg.
“I saw her (coach) in a summer league game,” Andy Pancratz said. “It’s like we’re starting over. This gives me something to do. We’ve had an empty nest for basketball around our home.”
Andy coached his son’s AAU teams while they played at Schaumburg and would like to start a feeder basketball program soon for Leyden.
Using her father’s DePaul connections, Drewann hired former Fenwick star Claudette Towers as her varsity assistant coach. Towers ended her college basketball career with DePaul in 2006.
“We’re not so different,” said Towers, who is 8 years older than Pancratz. “We were both basketball players that know the college game. We try to do what’s good for the game. It’s a good opportunity to come back (to coach) for the kids.”
One of Drewann’s assistant coaches is former Leyden head coach Tim Stark, who now coaches a freshman team.
“My staff is all older than me,” Pancratz said.
Jeanette was pregnant with Drewann in her first year as the volleyball coach for the Saxons. Jeanette recently earned her 700th career victory as a coach.
“This is my first time (seeing her coach). I don’t know if I can explain it. It’s surreal,” Jeanette said. “She has been very blessed to be given this opportunity. She has definitely had a lot of positive (coaching) influences in her life.”
Jeanette said Drewann did not show an interest in coaching while trying to maintain a mother-daughter relationship during the high school season. Drewann is Jeanette’s only daughter after giving birth to three sons.
Mark (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Zach (Northern Illinois) became Division I basketball players after leading Schaumburg to its only Class AA state championship in 2001 with a stunning upset over Eddy Curry-led Thornwood, 66-54. The Saxons became the first Northwest suburban public school to win a state boys basketball title since Maine South in 1979.
Their younger brother, Jake, went on to play at the University of Chicago.
Mark, 30, remains the Coordinator of Video Scouting for the Tennessee men’s basketball team under new coach Cuonzo Martin. Zach, 27, is an analyst for a hedge fund company in Orlando, Fla., and Jake, 25, is an analyst for J.P. Morgan in Chicago.
“It’s weird thinking my little sister is a head basketball coach,” Jake said. “It makes me feel old.”
Drewann Pancratz isn’t the only former Schaumburg athlete to coach at Leyden. Football coach Tom Cerasani Jr. quarterbacked for his father and coach, Tom Sr., in 1990. Tom Sr. graduated from East Leyden in 1965 and returned to become an assistant coach for his son at least five years ago before retiring.