DeVault named East boys’ basketball coach
By Greg Bates
Heading into his senior season, J.D. DeVault had a choice to make.
His mom was moving from Green Bay to Ohio, but DeVault told her he wanted to stay back and play basketball at East High School.
The year prior, DeVault had transferred from Preble and earned all-conference honorable mention status on the court. He had a number of friends playing for East, and he didn’t want to leave them hanging.
So his mom rented a small apartment on Pecan Street near Walmart on the east side of Green Bay for DeVault to stay in.
DeVault played his senior year under a new varsity coach, Rick Rosinski. His game flourished. The two bonded. DeVault’s love for East basketball started to grow.
Now, eight years after returning to Green Bay and coaching at various levels in the Red Devils’ basketball program, DeVault was hired as the East varsity boys’ basketball coach.
“There were other jobs open and I had no interest, I would never apply,” DeVault said. “I have no interest or pride in any other schools. I couldn’t even fake it. East was the only place I was ever interested in working.”
DeVault has even surprised himself by taking over the East boys’ basketball program.
If someone would have told him upon graduating in 2003 that two decades later he would be running the program, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“If you told me I would have been a teacher 19 years ago, I would have been like, ‘You lyin’.’ Never. I didn’t like school,” DeVault said. “Basketball was the reason why I went to school. But with my experiences through coaches and certain teachers, I learned that basketball doesn’t last forever, but
education does. This is the most important piece of it. Working with kids has always been natural to me. I’ve always been able to get kids’ attention and a group’s attention to follow me, so when I put that together with understanding what I’ve learned through basketball, like basketball’s going to end for me one day, so what am I going to do after that? So the teaching became that. It’s the same thing with coaching.”
DeVault played at East for two seasons and he had a lot of fun under Rosinski.
“He was down with our playing style, and he actually encouraged it, nourished it,” DeVault said. “Because of coach Rosinski, I got to go play college ball, because I got to show off what I could do.”
To college and back
A forward, DeVault played basketball at Division II Missouri Valley College.
“When I came back to Green Bay after college, I was just kind of hanging out, just working,” DeVault said. “I’d always checked in with Coach and I always went to some games and I always showed support, then he just asked me one time that he needed someone to help coach the eighth-grade team. I wasn’t like, oh, I want to be a coach, I was never against it. I started working with the group of kids and again, like teaching, it’s just something that came so naturally. I just had so much stuff to like to pass on and give, and I guess, I’m pretty good at conveying what I’m trying to say basketball-wise and showing.”
DeVault, who is a fourth-grade teacher at Howe Elementary School, started out coaching eighth-grade, moved up to junior varsity and then was a varsity assistant for the last four years.
When Rosinski had to resign in June due to personal reasons after 20 years leading the program, he endorsed DeVault as the school’s next head coach.
“That means a lot,” said the 38-year-old DeVault. “Like everybody knows, he coached there for 20 years.
That’s 20 years’ worth of kids. If you think about that, only do varsity teams, 20 times 15, we’re getting upwards of like 300 kids throughout his time.
“There’s other people that were interested in the job and all of that, but I think Coach just saw that it was different with me than everybody else. It’s really in my heart; it’s not just a job, it’s a passion of mine.”
After a solid 2021-22 campaign in which the Red Devils went 19-8, placed third in the Bay Conference and advanced to sectionals, DeVault wants the program to keep moving forward.
He’s going to implement some of his own wrinkles, but he’s also going to stay the same in areas that have been successful.
“With the traditions and all those things, the Silent Night, I’m going to keep all that because that’s East tradition,” DeVault said. “Those are things Rick and them started and I want to keep all that stuff going. I can’t say that I’m too much different than coach Rosinski, it’s just I feel like I have the youthful energy that he used to have. He’s getting a little older, so I feel like I’ve got the recharge from the energy that
he used to have. When I played for him, and I could never play for a coach that wasn’t this way, he was very commanding as a coach, he was very intense. But I feel like if you’re not intense as a coach, you don’t have to be screaming to be intense. If you’re not intense as a coach, I don’t feel comfortable going into this battle with you. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
“What I learned from Coach is you can be energetic, but you can still keep yourself under control at the same time.”
DeVault is already working to bring more interest into the boys’ basketball program and attract more young players to the game.
“I’ve already started, but I’ve got to jump into the youth program and tap in and try to get kids,” DeVault said. “After COVID, it was tough. COVID like killed our youth program. It’s hard with our population, being so transient in and out, it was hard as it was, but then COVID kind of just shut everything down and everybody went their own ways. I’ve got to bring that excitement back. I feel like I can, because I’ve
got a pretty good reputation in the community and I’ve a pretty good following out here from being a basketball player. I’ve had a lot of people that have reached out and are like following, so I feel like with them backing me and them reiterating the things that I say, I feel like I can draw people just to come in.”
Now that DeVault has landed his dream job, he is planning on sticking around for a long time.
“If all goes in my way and everything works out, I don’t feel like I would want to leave until I have to — until physically I can’t do it or age-wise I can’t,” he said. “I’m a lifer, if they keep me around.”