April 18, 2018
Head hoops coach Rick Malnati steps down after leading the Friars for five seasons.
Coach Malnati (standing) hands over the Friars' boys' basketball reins to Coach Peck (left, in gray), who played for Malnati at New Trier 18 years ago.
After five years at the helm of the Fenwick basketball program, Rick Malnati has informed the school that he is stepping down as head varsity coach. Players were notified this morning when Malnati, 58, met with the team to share the news.
In his five seasons at Fenwick, Coach Malnati led the Friars to a 122-33 record, which included a three-year, 38-game winning streak against opponents in the Chicago Catholic League (CCL). His 2016-17 team posted a 30-5 record and was the Class 3A runner-up in Peoria, marking the best basketball finish in school history.
“Five years ago Staunton Peck and I got a chance to come to Fenwick to coach basketball,” Malnati reflected. “I originally told Athletic Director Scott Thies that I would commit to three years and then Staunton would take over. I was having so much fun, I stayed five!
Malnati says coming to coach at Fenwick has put a smile on his face for the past five years.
“I’m very thankful to the Fenwick community, the faculty, and my players and parents for their support,” Malnati continued. “I have great confidence in Staunton. He has a great basketball mind and a heart for kids.”
Since coming to coach in Oak Park in 2012, Malnati’s Fenwick teams have averaged more than 24 victories per season. Other notable achievements include:
- Winning three consecutive CCL Championships, including the aforementioned conference winning streak, which is ongoing.
- Coaching three straight Lawless Player of the Year winners: Mike Smith in 2016 (now at Columbia University, New York), Jamal Nixon in 2017 (now at Minnesota State, Mankato) and sophomore DJ Steward in 2018.
- 15 Friars going on to play college basketball.
“We thank Rick Malnati and his family for all they have done for Fenwick and our basketball program the past five years,” praised AD Thies ’99. “We have experienced great success had some unbelievable moments during his tenure. Coach Malnati is simply one of the best coaches around but I will always be more grateful for how he pushed our kids to be better people off the court.”
The 6’4” Nixon, who played under Malnati for four years at Fenwick, said: “I am sad to see Coach Malnati leave after an outstanding [run] at Fenwick, but the program is in great hands with Coach Peck. Coach Peck was an integral part of my experience, and I know he will continue the great tradition and success of the basketball program.”
Staunton Peck joined the Friars in 2013 as an assistant varsity basketball coach and Malnati’s right-hand man. From 2011-13 Peck was an assistant coach at New York University, whose ’12 team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Fenwick's new boys' varsity basketball head coach: Staunton Peck.
Peck is a 2001 alumnus of New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL, and played for Malnati for three years there, starting on the Trevians’ 2000 super-sectional championship team. He is an ’06 graduate of Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, where he was a two-year captain of the Continentals’ basketball team. From 2007-09 Peck was a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin – Lacrosse, earning a master’s degree in athletic administration. In addition to being the new head varsity basketball coach at Fenwick, Peck also is the school’s assistant athletic director.
“I am really excited to have Staunton Peck as our head basketball coach,” Thies continued. “Staunton has learned from one of the best in Rick Malnati and has been a tremendous asset to the school community these past five years. Staunton really knows basketball, is competitive and carries a student-centered approach. I am confident he will continue to help our kids become better students, better athletes and better people.”
Coach Peck added, “I am extremely excited to take on the role of head basketball coach at Fenwick. I am grateful for all the mentoring that Rick Malnati has given me as a person and basketball coach throughout the past five years and beyond. He is an incredible coach and an even better person. I hope to carry on the great culture he has established over the past five years.
“I would also like to thank Scott Thies, [principal] Peter Groom and [president] Fr. Richard Peddicord for giving me this coaching opportunity,” Peck continued. “I will do my best to uphold the strong basketball tradition that has been a part of Fenwick for the past 90 years.”