Familiar face fills head basketball coach spot at CHS

Tim Ezzi (left), Catholic High School athletic director, poses with his son Todd Ezzi after Todd was named head basketball coach. Tim Ezzi held the head coaching job for 22 seasons before resigning July 16.
Tim Ezzi (left), Catholic High School athletic director, poses with his son Todd Ezzi after Todd was named head basketball coach. Tim Ezzi held the head coaching job for 22 seasons before resigning July 16.

Like a lot of guys who graduated from Catholic High School in Little Rock, Todd Ezzi’s education was marked by two father figures — his dad, Tim Ezzi, and the late Msgr. George Tribou, longtime CHS rector and principal.

It should therefore surprise no one that both men played pivotal roles in the event that launched Todd Ezzi’s coaching career.

While Todd Ezzi was still in junior high school in 1994, the Rockets qualified for the state basketball tournament. Famous for his no-nonsense attitude about academics, Msgr. Tribou kept teacher and assistant coach Tim Glancy in the classroom with his students and didn’t let him go to the tournament. In his place, 13-year-old Todd Ezzi was elevated to assistant coach.

“I don’t know how much actual coaching I did, but that was the first time I was dad’s assistant,” Todd Ezzi said.

For the past eight years, Todd Ezzi served as his father’s actual assistant coach, until July 16 when he was again elevated, this time into the head coaching job his father has occupied for the past 22 seasons.

“Todd has an unmatched work ethic and brings a load of experience as well as new ideas to the head coaching position,” principal Steve Straessle said.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Todd Ezzi said of the new role. “It’s a really exciting time for me and a new chapter for the program.”

Todd Ezzi, 33, graduated from Catholic High School in 1998 where he played on the baseball team. In 2003, he graduated from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville with a degree in education. Prior to joining his father’s staff, he coached basketball and baseball at St. Joseph High School in Pine Bluff. He and his wife Melissa have three children.

Despite working so closely with his dad for such a long time, Todd Ezzi said the passing of the torch still “caught me off-guard,” so much so that he is still getting used to the idea the program is now his.

“This school has been an important part of my life, and I look forward to this new challenge,” he said. “The only disappointment I have about this is that I don’t get to coach with (Tim Ezzi) anymore.”

Asked about his game plan in the coming season, Todd Ezzi told Arkansas Catholic his desire to stress all-around conditioning, particularly in the off season. He said players are completing workouts three times a week this summer and some are also playing in AAU games. He said improving the Rockets’ strength and stamina are keys to the faster, more defensively aggressive style he wants to achieve.

“On offense, you can have more skill some years and less skill some years,” he said. “Defense is something you can get better at just by working hard.”

In his more than two decades on the bench, Tim Ezzi led the Rockets to numerous state tournament appearances, culminated in the 2008 7A state championship, the school’s lone state title in basketball.

In resigning the post, Tim Ezzi cited an overloaded schedule that also includes serving as the Rockets’ athletic director and teaching classes in health, physical education and religion; both are responsibilities he will continue to hold. Over his tenure at the school, he has also coached football, baseball, golf and tennis. 

“The last couple of years, being both the athletic director and the head basketball coach made life very hectic,” Tim Ezzi said. “The time was right. Todd’s been around eight years and he knows what he’s doing. I know the program is in good hands.”

The school also announced Michael Drake, CHS Class of 2009, will take over as assistant basketball coach. Drake graduated from Christian Brothers University in Memphis this spring with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. Drake is no stranger to Rocket hoops fans, having played on the 2008 state basketball title team. In college, he was the Gulf South Conference basketball Freshman of the Year and All-Conference, All-District and honorable mention NCAA Division II All American in 2013.

Dwain Hebda

You can see Dwain Hebda’s byline in Arkansas Catholic and dozens of other online and print publications. He attends Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock.

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