Triton College men’s basketball coach Steve Christiansen (standing right) provides instruction to sophomore John Joyce during a recent game.

Christiansen Breaks Triton Men’s Basketball Coaching Wins Record

When Steve Christiansen was hired as the seventh head coach in Triton College men’s basketball program history in 2004, he was one of the youngest head coaches in the nation. Now 13 years later, the Hinckley, Ill. native has turned the Trojans into a national power. Christiansen became the all-time winningest head coach in program history with the Trojans 70-67 victory over Madison College, Saturday, Jan. 28.

Christiansen’s 326th win at Triton surpassed the legendary Rich Maack, who served as the program’s first head coach from 1967-84. The victory in Wisconsin improved the Trojans to 22-1 on the season and most importantly kept Triton atop the North Central Community College Conference (N4C) standings with a perfect 8-0 record.

“Being mentioned in the same company as Rich Maack is truly special,” Christiansen said. “He is an absolutely wonderful man who set the standard from the inception of the program and thankfully he set it very high. After I got to know him over the years, I grew to have an even deeper appreciation for all the positive things he did to help forge the identity of Triton College athletics. He has been so supportive of me and the program and it is truly an honor to carry on his legacy.” 

Maack, who is now enjoying retirement in Naples, Fla., continues to follow the team by watching or listening to any Triton games streaming online. During his tenure, Maack guided the Trojans to nine 20-plus win seasons and five conference titles. He echoed his appreciation for what Christiansen has done with the program.

“On behalf of all Triton basketball players, cheerleaders, managers, faculty and staff, I want to congratulate Coach Christiansen on his winning record,” Maack said. “Coach Christiansen has done a wonderful job and is an inspiration for his young followers. It took me 17 seasons to accomplish what he has done in less than 15. It's a great way to celebrate the 50th season of Triton basketball.”

The milestone was a chance for Christiansen to look back at his time at Triton as he never envisioned all the success he would have. Christiansen has led the Trojans to 11 20-plus win seasons, seven N4C conference titles and three NJCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, including a second place finish in the nation last year. However, when Christiansen first arrived in River Grove, his main focus was learning his craft as a rookie head coach.

“Breaking records was the furthest thing from my mind,” said Christiansen. “I was simply delighted that Triton College took a chance on me and all I was concerned with was trying to get win number one. As this milestone has approached I have reflected back to the beginning of my career here and how underprepared I felt being in charge of this program. I was so inexperienced in so many different facets of coaching, but I did take strength from the fact that I had been groomed by some outstanding coaches prior to coming here.”

Some of those coaches include Christensen’s high school coach at Hinckley-Big Rock, IHSA Hall of Famer Bob Barnett, as well as members of the staff that Christiansen worked under as graduate assistant at Northern Illinois University including Rob Judson, Mike Shepherd, Donald Whiteside, Rick Ray and Carl Armato.

But Coach Christiansen's biggest influence is his family, in particular his late father Al Christiansen who passed away in 2009 after a courageous battle with cancer.

“I want to thank them for all the love and support, patience and understanding they have given me during my time in this profession,” Christiansen said. “I could've never made it this long without them and I feel so blessed to always have them in my corner. As for my dad, I am so sad he isn't here to experience these special seasons and to share this milestone. After all it was him, years ago, who fostered my love for sports and in particular the game of basketball. I know he's with me though and it's his presence that motivates me every day to try to do better. I was so lucky to have been blessed with parents who genuinely cared about my and my sister's success.”

However, most college head coaches would say they are only as good as the players they recruit, and Christiansen is no different.

“The lifeblood of any program is its players and I have been so blessed over the years to have many, many great ones,” said Christiansen. “As much as I would love to name names, there are so many, I would surely leave someone out, but what I can tell you is that those players have not only made my career but helped make my life. They have given me far more than I could have ever given them and I absolutely love them for that. Each and every one of them.”

In addition to the players, Christiansen acknowledged all his former assistant coaches at Triton including Jason Rossi, Bob Roumbus, Sidney White, Jim Rivera, Rob Hicks, Ryan Ward, Bill Genian, Chris Fuqua, Nate Fuqua, Pat Woods, Donnie Boyce and Oscar Macias. He offered a special thanks to members of his current staff including Plato Dimakos, Jelani Boline, Rex Parker and Tyler Jones.

“Without their efforts, last season's school record-setting campaign culminating in a national runner-up finish would never have been possible,” Christiansen said. “As you can see, our success here is a total team effort. None of it would've been possible without the players and coaches I have been blessed to work with.” 

The Triton College Athletic Department plans to recognize Coach Christiansen for breaking the all-time men's basketball coaching wins record prior to the Trojans' game *Wednesday, Feb. 15, against Rock Valley College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

For more information on Triton College athletics, visit www.triton.edu/athletics or call Athletic Director Harry McGinnis at (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3784.

*The recognition schedule had previously been scheduled to take place on Feb. 8.