The Montclair High School boys basketball team will have a new head coach on the sidelines come this December.
The Montclair Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Cecil Stinson, who recently was head coach at Cristo Rey Newark High School (formerly Christ the King High School), on Monday, June 20.
Stinson, a Montclair High School alum, takes over for Gary Wallace, who led the program the last six seasons. In 2021-22 the Mounties went 6-16 but were hampered early in the season because of a COVID-19 shutdown.
Stinson graduated in 2006 and scored more than a thousand points in his Montclair career.
He would later play at Southeastern Community College and then for three seasons as a guard at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, up until 2011.
The new head coach has been coaching since his days at Post University, where he earned a degree in human services.
Stinson is not only looking at his tutelage of the players on the floor, but also off the floor.
“As a former player, I am confident in my abilities and committed to the success of the
Mounties basketball program, which will be built on the groundwork of trust, communication, relationship building and integrity,” he said in a press release put out by the school district announcing the hiring.
“While there are a number of top-tier program expectations, it is immensely important to me that the players have an active role and take pride in their academic profile.”
In addition to his work as Cristo Rey head coach, Stinson has maintained his roots in Montclair. He recently was camp director for the Police Athletic League, which held the Bobby Hurt’s Basketball 101 Skills Camp at the township’s Glenfield Park for kids in fourth through eighth grades.
His work with the youth in the community reverberated with school district officials.
“What resonated was coach Stinson’s level of commitment and dedication to developing players in addition to his strong leadership qualities,” schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said in the release.
“We immediately recognized his passion about mentoring adolescents and helping to mold them into confident, responsible and productive young adults.”
That was reiterated by Montclair Athletics Director PJ Scarpello.
“Through the interview process I was moved by coach Stinson’s commitment to the community of Montclair,” Scarpello said, according to the release.
“Coach Stinson spoke passionately about his desire to not only grow our high school team to compete at the highest level but to also get the youth programs involved. I believe coach Stinson will be a great asset to the Montclair community.”
Montclair High School Principal Jeff Freeman added that Stinson is not just about Xs and Os.
“One of the things that stood out to me was coach Stinson’s emphasis on the importance of our student athletes being able to use what they have learned from being a part of the basketball team for life, both in and outside of Montclair High School,” Freeman said in the release.
“Coach Stinson wants our student athletes to experience success while at MHS and beyond.”
Wallace said he was looking forward to his seventh season with Montclair, but his contract was not renewed.
“I truly have enjoyed my time at Montclair,” he said. “I have learned a lot from my players. They might not know it, but I did.”
Wallace said he has had a long-term relationship with the new head coach.
“I’m glad to hear that,” he said Wallace upon learning that Stinson is the new coach. “We go back a long way and grew up together.”
The two had stints together on AAU teams.
Over the years Montclair and Christ the King faced each other on the court, including during the early years of Wallace’s tenure at Montclair, when the Mounties won a couple of close games against Christ the King.
“We always wanted to coach against each other,” Wallace said. “They are in good hands. He is definitely a basketball guru.”
Wallace said his days coaching basketball are not over. “I definitely want to coach,” he said.