Posted on: March 5, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Ethan Holesha, JRN-111 Student

As head men’s basketball coach for Moraine Valley, John Chappetto balances seriousness and caring, and he brings experience unlike that of any other coach in the area—including a long-time friendship with NBA superstar Dwyane Wade.

“I’m lucky enough to have been able to have been around him, so it’s provided me with experiences that probably no other coach has been able to experience,” he said.

But his connection with Wade is not the only reason the Moraine Valley men’s basketball team has seen instant success upon Chappetto’s arrival. After securing the no. 1 seed in their region, sealing the co-conference championship, and capping off an impressive regular season of 24-6, the team is looking to make a push towards the national tournament.

Born on Oct. 28, 1970, in Evergreen Park, Chappetto has literally been around the game of basketball his entire life. 

“My father, Charlie Chappetto, was a longtime Catholic league referee, and so I always used to go to his games and watch him ref,” he said. “My godfather is Tom O’Malley who is just the retiring coach at Saint Xavier. So my whole life, I’ve been around it.”

Too short to play in high school, Chappetto knew he still had to stay around the game in some aspect. His first coaching job was at St. Laurence, but it was at Richards High School where Chappetto really made a name for himself.

From 2002-2014, Chappetto was the head coach at Richards High School and left a massive impact on the program. With a record of 220-115, he became the winningest coach in the program’s history. The 2008 4A state championship was the solidifying moment in Chappetto’s long run at the school. Wade, a Richards alum and former NBA superstar, even flew out from Miami for the state title game. 

“In 2008, when he showed up, the inspiration that it provided our players was nothing like I’ve ever seen down in Peoria,” Chappetto said. “He stormed the floor with us when we won. I mean, he paid $60,000 to fly a chartered flight from Miami to Peoria, and then right back to Miami.”

Chappetto has known Wade since the basketball star was just a kid, and he and Wade have had a very close relationship throughout the years.

“Just seeing him grow from 7th grader to superstar has just been a blast,” he said. “To watch him on TV, to watch him in person. To be at his 30th birthday party in a club in Miami. It’s been some of the really cool things that I know a lot of other coaches, that are great coaches, haven’t been able to experience.”

Between being the head coach at Richards and becoming the head coach at Moraine Valley, Chappetto took the job as top assistant coach at Saint Xavier University. This allowed him to dip his feet into college coaching, but he says there’s still a huge difference between being assistant coach and head coach – especially at the college level.

Even with all of his unique experiences with the game, he still faced challenges with this new head coaching gig at Moraine. 

“Whenever you start something, wherever it is, you have to prove to the people that you care and that you’re good at what you do,” Chappetto said. 

He credits the staff and players around him for allowing his transition into head coach to go much more smoothly than he anticipated. 

“My assistant coaches have been fantastic,” he said. “They have helped recruit, they have helped coach day to day, they have helped prepare us for our next opponent…and we have talent.”

The respect is mutual between Chappetto and his players, as he has been praised by many of them this season. Freshman basketball players Trevon Jones and Chris Harrison had nothing but good things to say about the first-year head coach. 

“He’s got a winning attitude,” Jones said. “I mean, he doesn’t mind losing as long as we work hard, but he loves to win.” 

Harrison talks about how Chappetto prepares the team every day: “He stays on top of what our objectives are for every week so we know what to expect.”

Sophomore guard Jalen Hughes also gave the coach high praise. “He motivates each and every single guy on our team not just on the court, but with staying on top of our books, and becoming the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be,” he said.

Although he is ecstatic about the quick success of this team, winning isn’t the only important thing to Chappetto. He likes to have very close relationships with each player, and he wants to help them grow into young adults. 

“There’s a lot of reasons I coach,” he said. “It helps you remain competitive. The ability to help young people get through their high school or college years, which is not always easy. To get them to a point where hopefully they can use what they’ve learned in sports, or from us as a person, to carry on the rest of their life.”

Now in his 27th year of coaching, Chappetto took this job knowing that it could be his last one as a head coach, so he wants to leave a legacy at this school that no one will ever forget. 

“I don’t want to be a one-year wonder here,” he said. “Get the no. 1 seed, maybe go to the national tournament, and then be bad next year. It’s gotta be a year-to-year thing.” He also wants to leave a lasting impression on his players as well as the new community. 

“I would like my players to say that I cared about everything,” he said. “About their academics, about their basketball careers, about them as people. That’s what I want people to say the most, that I cared about them and their success.” 

Ethan Holesha can be contacted at