Prep Basketball

Veteran coaches remember Xavier's opening

HS journalism: Saints celebrating 20th anniversary this year

Xavier girls’ basketball coach Tom Lilly conducts a drill as the Saints prepare for the 2002 state tournament. Xavier is celebrating its 20th anniversary this school year. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Xavier girls’ basketball coach Tom Lilly conducts a drill as the Saints prepare for the 2002 state tournament. Xavier is celebrating its 20th anniversary this school year. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Throughout all 20 years of Xavier High School, coaches Tom Lilly and Duane Schulte have been through it all.

Schulte has been a football coach for 25 years, starting at LaSalle High School then transitioning to Xavier. Schulte said it is easier to understand the transition of two high schools for the people who went through it.

Many wondered, as far back as the early 1960s, what it would be like if LaSalle and Regis were one school.

“Maybe what has been done the past 21 years would provide some insight to answer to that question,” Schulte said. “To merge two schools, which had outstanding championship histories, into one was remarkable.”

One of Schulte’s assistants included Lilly, along with Jim O’Connell, Stu Ballinger, Tom Ekland and Brad Stovie. For the entire existence of Xavier, Dave Gearhart has done stats and Jason Klein has done film. Schulte referred to these men as “pretty remarkable.”

Lilly has coached the girls’ basketball team for 34 years. He started his journey at Regis High School as the sophomore coach during the 6-player era. When it became 5-on-5, he still was a sophomore coach as well as a varsity assistant. The following year, he took over as head coach.

“It has been exciting and rewarding, not without some bumps in the road,” Lilly said. “I have had great support from my family, administration and some hardworking, solid players.”

Throughout the years, Lilly has seen a lot of really good players come through the program.

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“I guess if you go to the record books, Hannah Stolba (class of 2000) still owns performance rating and double, doubles (double digits for two sets of stats),” he said. “Then, Kristin Jennings (’03) was an MVC player of the year.

“Maybe junior Caitlynn Daniels will add her name to the list.”

Lilly has had 11 assistant coaches during his tenure. Stephanie Potts has been with him the longest and continues to assist the program.

Along with Lilly’s bumps in the road, Schulte has seen “a lot of peaks and valleys but the one constant has been tough, hard-nosed, gritty players who do their job and get what they earn, and awesome, loyal assistant coaches who know their stuff.”

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