Rend Lake names Gamber as next head basketball coach

Photo Courtesy Rend Lake Athletics

Rend Lake College has found its next head basketball coach, and he is awfully familiar with Southern Illinois basketball.

Friday, Rend Lake College Athletic Director Tim Wills announced Brian Gamber will take the head coaching position for the Warriors in the 2020-21 season. The decision comes after an extensive hiring process that saw more than 70 people apply. The hiring team whittled the list down to three highly qualified candidates before making its choice.

“It was a difficult decision, but we felt Brian was the best fit,” Wills said. “He is familiar with the college and his love for RLC really came through in the interview. As a former student and student-athlete from Rend Lake, the place means a lot to him — as it does to all of us who graduated. He is going to bring a passion for the players and coaching, and the college as well.”

Gamber played for the Warriors for two seasons from 2007-2009. The sharp-shooting forward was named to the Great Rivers Athletic Conference All-Conference Team as a freshman and helped the team to winning seasons during his two years as a Warrior. But Gamber’s playing career was actually sandwiched between some coaching opportunities. After graduating from Mt. Vernon Township High School, Gamber joined the Ram’s coaching staff as a volunteer assistant under Doug Creel his first year out of high school. He said he was always a role player at MVTHS, but a late growth spurt allowed him to extend his playing career when he transferred to RLC where he played under Wills during his time as RLC’s head coach.

“I loved my time playing at Rend Lake,” Gamber said. “But coaching was something I definitely knew I was going to continue.”

And he got right back into it once his playing career ended. During his time finishing his education at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Gamber coached freshman and sophomore teams at Mt. Vernon. After graduating from SIUC, he spent two years teaching and coaching in the Waltonville school district before being hired at Woodlawn where he has spent the past six years and built up an impressive resume. His first two years at Woodlawn were as an assistant coach and the Cardinals basketball team made it all the way to the Final Four in the IHSA state tournament during the 2015-16 season. Gamber then took over as head coach the next year and posted a winning season every season with the win totals improving ever year. His career record as head coach at Woodlawn was 91-34 with three regional titles and one sectional title. He was named the Midland Trail Conference Coach of the Year three of those four seasons and he was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year three of four seasons. Gamber said there were very few jobs that could lure him away from Woodlawn, but the RLC position was one of them.

Now, he’s looking to bring more success to Ina.

“We’re going to do things right,” Gamber said. “Hard work, discipline, respect — those are things you try to build off of. Wins tend to fall in line with that.”

And Gamber said he is looking to bring in recruits that have those high-character qualities to represent Rend Lake College. Although he hasn’t had to do any recruiting at the high school level.

“He isn’t an experienced recruiter,” Wills said. “When I was hired as coach 28 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of experience recruiting either. Recruiting is salesmanship and you can sell something you believe in. Brian Gamber believes in Rend Lake College. He will have no problem convincing kids it’s a great place to go to school and play basketball.”

Gamber also has high praise for the athletic talent in Southern Illinois and envisions RLC as a hub for that talent.

“I feel great about bringing in kids from this area and getting kids from other areas,” he said. “I’m a Southern Illinois guy. I’ve been living and coaching here for a long time and know the talent we have around here. With RLC being in the middle of it, it’s a great place to get players from all over.”

Gamber takes over for Tommy Holder who stepped down from the head coaching position in April. Gamber will be reaching out to the current players about their intentions of staying with the team. All current scholarships will be honored.

“I am really excited to have Brian on our staff. He is going to be a great addition to Warrior athletics. He is a high-character person with a lot of integrity. He is ready to recruit, and I anticipate we will be hearing about some basketball signees in the very near future,” Wills said.

Gamber said he is working on rounding out his coaching staff, but one assistant that he is locked in on is his former mentor Doug Creel. Creel recently stepped down as head coach of the Mt. Vernon Township High School basketball team and Gamber expects him to bring his decades of experience to Rend Lake College.

“For me, I couldn’t ask for a better assistant coach,” he said.

Gamber currently resides in his hometown of Mt. Vernon with wife Amy and sons Conrad and Wren. Gamber comes from a family with a rich local basketball tradition. He is the son of Mt. Vernon Township High School Hall of Famer the Honorable Judge Terry Gamber who went on to play college ball at Northwestern University and the younger brother of former MVTHS Basketball Head Coach Scott Gamber.

Tagged with: