Former Nicolet basketball coaches Corey Wolf and Rick DeKeyser land jobs with rivals

Homestead and Whitefish Bay to benefit

May 14, 2014

It's like Nicolet Athletic Director Kirk Krychowiak said:

"This is very odd, but you can't take what happens on this job personally or you'll go nuts."

That's because instead of feeling like a man abandoned or someone at the helm of a sinking ship, Krychowiak is pleased. Pleased for old friends like his last two girls basketball coaches Corey Wolf and Rick DeKeyser, who have just been named to similar positions at North Shore Conference rival schools. Wolf at Homestead and DeKeyser at Whitefish Bay.

"I know how things work," added Krychowiak. "These are good people. (Wolf and DeKeyser) are doing what's best for them. I have no issues with them. They're doing what's best for them and for the right reasons."

Homestead made its announcement of Wolf's selection on May 9, while Bay made its selection of DeKeyser known on May 11.

Wolf was Nicolet's head coach for nine years and led the Knights to a WIAA state title in 2011 before stepping down after the 2012 season to take care of her young and growing family. DeKeyser had been her chief assistant on the title team and took over at Nicolet for two years following her departure.

He recently stepped down shortly after the end of a long season.

Wolf's husband is former longtime Nicolet assistant baseball coach and now Germantown head baseball coach Jeff Wolf. At the time of her resignation, he didn't think that she would be out of basketball for long.

"Sometime and sometime soon," he said in 2012, "she will get back to coaching basketball and the sport will be much better for it."

"We'll see," was her laughing response at the time.

It turns out he knew her maybe better than she did herself.

"He (Jeff) always wanted me to stay," said Corey, "and he still does, even though this will mean a lot more daddy time for him."

But their kids are older (Samantha, 9, Emma, 7, and Cal, 3) and that helped persuade her, too.

"They're of an age where they can be a part of it," she said. "That's what helped change my mind. Cal is always running around with a (baseball) glove on his hand."

Another major reason for Wolf's decision to return to coaching is that she and her family live in Mequon, about three minutes from Homestead.

"Life is different now," she said. "We live in the Mequon community and I wanted to do something positive for it. This community is very important to me."

Regarding Nicolet, Wolf adopts an attitude that Krychowiak would respect.

"I can't say enough good things about Nicolet," she said. "When they hired me back then, they were taking a huge chance on me. I wouldn't be where I am without the support of that school and administration."

Wolf will inherit a young and growing Homestead team from former coach Matt Heuser, who led the Highlanders to a 14-9 record this past winter.

"I have a lot of friends in the community and I learned who and what is behind the (basketball) program," she said. "The more I learned, the more interested I became and the more I asked myself 'Why am I questioning this so much?'

"This (Homestead) is a fun program, a growing program that has so much support and has had so much time and effort put into it. It could be a great fit."

Homestead Athletic Director Ryan Mangan is counting on that.

"It's a nice opportunity for both of us," he said. "She's very much a quality person with a strong ability to communicate with young people. We're hoping that she'll pass it along with us."

Whitefish Bay Athletic Director John Gustavson, who coached Wolf when she was Corey Bronson and both were at Nicolet in the 1990s, said very much the same thing about her longtime assistant DeKeyser upon hiring him.

"We had about 15 people (interested in the job)," he said, "and when he applied he was very much on our short list. He's technically very strong. His teams play strong defense and adapt to what is needed to compete.

"But above all and more importantly, his demeanor is a great fit for Bay. He'll hit the ground running. He has familiarity with the North Shore Conference and he works in a school setting."

DeKeyser said he was not actively looking for a head coaching position after he stepped down from Nicolet a few months ago.

"This was the only job that I would have accepted," he said of the Bay post.

He takes over for Bay interim coach Dave Markson, who had a successful season with the Blue Dukes this winter.

Gustavson was pleased with the work Markson did in leaving a good foundation.

"(He) did a tremendous job as interim coach this past season," said Gustavson of Markson. "His efforts helped put the program in a good position to continue providing a memorable experience for all involved."

DeKeyser, who said he likes to plan things well in advance, wants to get going on the job right away.

"They're such good kids (at Bay)," he said. "A very good group. I always had such respect for them. When (Greg) Capper and (Dave) Markson were coaching it was always such a good rivalry."

"...This was still a tough decision, but when I go into something I go into it with my heart all the way. Our schedule will be tough, but I think it's going to be fun."

Meanwhile, Nicolet is now in need of a coach of its own.

No worries, said Krychowiak.

He says he has about 40 interested parties in the job and will have one in place by early June. Furthermore, both he and DeKeyser pointed out that the cupboard is not bare. The sixth and seventh grade youth programs are overflowing with talent, they said.

In short, all that is needed is a little patience.

"We'll get back on the map soon," he said.

And he's looking forward to next year's games with all these familiar people in new positions.

"From a competitive standpoint, it should be fun," he said. "It'll just be great to be a part of it."

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