Giusti’s legacy lives on as he reaches 500th win


Head coach Ross Giusti (left) holds his 500th win plaque with assistant coach Phil O’Grady (right). (photo courtesy of Omar Alebiosu)

Emily Torok, Executive Sports Editor

After sophomore Matthew Fouch’s walk off single at Larry Pohlman Field on April 6, the Prospect boys varsity baseball team won 6-5 against St. Viator. Fouch’s single was enough to score in junior Drew Terpins, earning Head Coach Ross Giusti his 500th career win. As much as this must mean to Giusti, the team couldn’t be more excited for his huge accomplishment. 

“He has earned all the wins he’s gotten and he has fought through some tough times,” senior second baseman Jack Friar said. “He has brought some good teams through Prospect and has helped the team go down to state [in 2011], [and] led one to a super sectional [in 2021] … It is just so fun to be a part of all these wins with him. It’s been awesome.” 

The Knights have a 16-13 overall record and a 8-6 record in the MSL East Conference. The Knights currently stand third in the MSL East Conference, and Giusti plans to keep their momentum going from their milestone win against St. Viator. 

Giusti’s tenure at Prospect has been long. He has been coaching for 26 years at Prospect. He played baseball at Arlington High School for two years and one more at Prospect High School. Then, he went off to play in college. He played shortstop for two years at Kishwaukee junior college and another two years at Ball State University. After graduating college, he began coaching at Buffalo Grove High School in 1993 and then came to coach at Prospect High School as an assistant coach in 1996. A year later, he became the head coach at Prospect in 1997. 

All those years of baseball is what makes Giusti’s 500th career win so special; however, to him it’s just another win in the books for the team. 

“Quite honestly, I mean I know it sounds crazy, but you’re not thinking about those things,” Giusti said. “You are thinking about the game at hand. Those are milestones. They are great and it makes you reflect on everybody that has been a part of our program. Everyone that has helped contribute is what it is all about.” 

Through all his time of coaching so far, Giusti has developed a large appreciation for the program.

 “I think that is what we are most proud of is that we’ve sustained successful teams and seasons for a long time,” Giusti said. “And when you build a program that has a good reputation, that’s all you can ask for.” 

As much as Giusti appreciates the program, the program also appreciates Giusti.  Varsity player and junior, Alex Tabbert, is grateful for all Giusti has done for him as a player and for the team. Tabbert has only had Giusti as a coach for a year, but in this short amount of time, Giusti has already had a huge impact on Tabbert.

“I love how he is so passionate and always gets fired up during the games,” Tabbert said. “I can tell he is excited to be there and wants to be there to coach us.” 

Friar, a player with more experience being coached by Giusti, has been coached for three years now, and he remembers exactly what Giusti told him his sophomore year when he made varsity.

“When I first met him [Guisti],” Friar said, “ he told me I was going to be a very important part of this team. He saw it in me the first time I stepped on the field. He believed in me and just went all the way with me.”

Friar is not the only athlete whose baseball career Guisti helped shape. He also coached 2009 graduate Jason Leblebijan, who went on to be a Triple-A all-star in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, and 2005 graduate Matt Davis, who ended up being a third team Division I All American player for Eastern Kentucky University. 

However, to Giusti, coaching Leblebijian and Davis was an easy gig. 

“I give Jason all the credit,” Giusti said. “You know, as coaches when you get a kid like Jason, there’s not much you can do other than let them thrive … We [coaches] try to instill discipline, punctuality, understanding, teamwork, dedication, and from their physical skills take control, and Matt was another kid that was self driven and successful. He was a kid that grabbed the bull by the horns and went out and did it. He deserves all the credit.”

Giusti has not only made an impact on the athletes he has coached, but also other coaches. 

According to Assistant Coach Phil O’Grady, he shares a bond with Giusti that is unbreakable. Like Giusti, O’Grady has been coaching at Prospect for 26 years.  

“We are like brothers, and I think what makes us so successful is I’m not afraid to question him,” O’Grady said. “He’ll present something to me, and I don’t necessarily always agree. We don’t always see eye to eye, but like family … At the end of the day we always had the interest of the team and program at heart. We challenge each other to do our job the right way and what’s in the best interest of the kids.”

However, their relationship didn’t start then; it goes way back to when they were kids. In fact, Giusti’s dad was O’Grady’s baseball coach when he was seven years old in the Arlington Youth Baseball Association league. 

“So, my first real coach was Giusti’s dad,” O’Grady said. “Giusti wears his emotions on his sleeves and can be intense, and his dad was very much like that … so, he [Giusti’s dad] kind of brought that style of coaching, and I loved it. I really learned to love the game from his dad.” 

Not only did O’Grady respect Giusti’s dad growing up, but he looked up to Giusti as a baseball player when he was a child. 

“Giusti and I grew up in the same neighborhood, so I had known Giusti,” O’Grady said. “He is probably six to seven years older than me, and so knowing him from the neighborhood I had a lot of respect for him as a player. He played with my older brother, and I just always admired him.” 

The respect O’Grady has cultivated for Giusti growing up has now carried on to how Giusti is as a coach today. 

“I think I’ve always admired that he’s always putting in a ton of extra time,” O’Grady said. “Which you don’t see a lot of young coaches doing anymore … he’s always been one to be at the field early, get the field ready, make sure the kids have a first rate experience, and I have always admired those hours he’s put in.”

As a coach himself, O’Grady could not be happier for Giusti’s 500th win as a head coach and is thankful for his commitment to the program. 

“It’s awesome,” O’Grady said. “It’s a testament to his commitment to the program. As a head coach he is dealing with three other teams in your program, parents, administrators, the press, and just so many things to balance, and I think he has really done a great job over his career with that.”

All the time and energy he puts into the game may seem like a lot from an outsider’s perspective, but to Guisti it’s simply what he loves to do the most, and it’s clear that his pride for the game is unparalleled. 

“It’s just always been a part of my life,” Giusti said.“I’ve just always loved baseball. I always kind of thought as a player that I would enjoy coaching. When you see what you’re teaching has an effect on kids it makes it worthwhile.”