Triton College coach covers more than the court
Steve Christiansen is in his ninth year as men's basketball coach at Triton College. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
The Triton Trojans’ next home game is at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19 against the Rock Valley College Golden Eagles, from Rockford, Ill.
Triton plays in North Central Community College Conference. There are 14 conference games in the season and in 2012 Triton won the conference with a 13-1 record.
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:12AM
RIVER GROVE — As head coach of Triton College’s basketball team, Steve Christiansen has tried to pass on his love for the game on to his players.
He believes having that kind of love is the secret to success as a coach in any sport and in life as well.
“You have to have a love for the game and helping people achieve more than they thought they could,” he said.
He says many college student athletes dream of fame and fortune through a sport -- but they often neglect an important component.
The college athlete is also a student and has to go to class and do well academically to stay in school, and in Christiansen’s case, remain eligible to play basketball.
“It’s challenging to help some young people see the light,” he said. “As simple as it sounds, it’s not always that easy.”
“It’s the student part that is challenging,” he said. “Trying to undo some bad habits that have collected over a lifetime and you only have three to four hours a day with them.
But he seems to have done well with the team over the past few years. The team has averaged about 25 wins out of about 30 games per season and so far, Christiansen’s overall coaching record is good.
“We’ve (team) been rolling here lately,” he said. “I had my 200th win in December. My record is 202 and 70 as a head coach.”
Christiansen’s love for coaching came through sports and his father.
“I was a basketball player and my dad was my coach as a little kid,” he said. “It was something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
“When I stopped playing it seemed like the next step,” he said. “Being a fan of basketball it seemed like the next logical step.”
Christiansen, 35, was born and raised in Hinckley, Ill. and attended Hinckley-Big Rock High School. He graduated from North Central College with a bachelor’s degree in finance with minors in marketing and coaching.
“I coached at my old high school while a senior in college,” he said. “I did that for three years.”
He later was hired as director of basketball operations at Northern Illinois University from 2002 to 2004.
“It’s a good job for a young guy who was ready to cut his teeth,” he said. “I was working on behind-the-scene stuff.”
But he could not recruit or scout for new players, which is something he wanted to do. And waiting to move up at that school would take some time so when the opportunity to coach at Triton College came,
He’s now in his ninth year as Triton’s head coach.
When not coaching basketball he enjoys being a spectator, as long as it’s a sporting event.
“Boxing, horse racing, football, I pretty much like anything,” he said. “I like to fish during my off-time.”
But attracting players to come play for him and do well on the court and in class is what he enjoys most.
“You have to sell these kids on the future,” he said. “See them turn the corner, have a successful life and a good future. That’s the reward.”