By Mark Gregory
Plainfield Central announced last week the hiring of Gregg Bayer as its new boys basketball coach.
Bayer most recently served in the same capacity with the Wildcats’ girls team and while he enjoyed his time at the head of the girls program, a move to the boys bench is a return to his roots.
“I had a phenomenal experience,” he said of the last few years. “The girls worked their tails off and they did everything I asked them to do. Having the opportunity to be the head coach of the program you played for is really, really special.”
Bayer grew up playing basketball as a Wildcat.
“I can remember since I have been three feet tall, I have been going there to shoot baskets and I have been going to (former coach and current principal) Dave Stephens’ basketball camp since third grade and that was the highlight of my summer,” Bayer said. “So, ever since I can remember touching a basketball, that is where I have been and where I considered home. I am really looking forward to the opportunity and the challenges ahead.”
During his time at Central, Bayer was twice named to the All-Suburban Prairie basketball team and was conference MVP, and honorable mention all-state selection his senior year. He helped the Wildcats win two conference championships and was the record-holder for 3-point baskets in a game and ranks among the top 20 individual scorers in school history. He was the Plainfield Enterprise Player of the Year his senior year and was inducted into the Plainfield Central Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bayer was an assistant in the boys program before taking the head job with the girls and is familiar with some of his new players to be.
“This incoming senior group, I coached at the lower level and the incoming juniors, I have had a few of them in class, so I am not walking into a situation where I don’t know anybody,” he said. “Some of the guys that I had before – they understand how I like to run a practice and how I run drills and the expectations that I have. That has been really nice to walk into because the other guys see that. We are working on developing some leaders. I know they lost a lot of guys that had a lot of key minutes last year. But, there are guys that I know and the sophomore team had some success and I want to build off that.”
He wants that success to start with being a team that competes in league play every year.
“I want to be a team and a program that is in the top half of the conference every year and when you have a good year, you are competing for conference championships and competing for regional championships,” he said. “I know some years teams have run away, but a lot of time, there is not a lot of separation in the conference and if you have a good offseason, you can make strides.
“I want to be a consistent program that every year a team knows if they are playing Plainfield Central, they have to bring their A game.”
Bayer said he is already getting the support he needs from former coach Steve Lamberti, who resigned as coach, but is still a teacher in the school.
“Steve has been really good. He and I have been in constant communication about personnel or what did they do in summer shootouts last year,” Bayer said. “He has been very good about any questions I have had and offering any support and help necessary.
“You can’t ask for better students and better people than at our school. The support in the building is phenomenal. Working with great people on the court and in the classroom – I can’t ask for a better situation.”