Today's Epilogue was written by staff member Connor Glowacki:
The storied history and legacy of DeMatha basketball is well-known around the world. Former DeMatha assistant coach Marshall Cho has worked to bring that same winning culture to Lake Oswego HS (OR), where he has served as the squad's head coach since 2015.
"This year will be the first time I graduate a Division 1 basketball player. It's an experiment in trying to apply here what I learned at DeMatha," Cho said. "Now, I'm building that culture from scratch."
Lake Oswego has won their league's championship for three consecutive seasons and were slated to appear in its second straight state tournament. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting high school sports this past year, Cho sought to change the expectations for his team.
"As a coach and a leader, this pandemic year has required you to redefine what success means," Cho said. "The ultimate success is about our community and the welfare of our young men who we are in charge of. Their mental health, their capacity to understand, and how their actions impact the greater community."
Prior to Lake Oswego, Cho was the Director of Basketball Operations for Portland University for two years. And before that was when he served as an assistant coach at DeMatha under Varsity Basketball Head Coach Mike Jones '91. Cho also served as head coach for the freshmen and JV teams and said the lessons he learned at DeMatha prepared him for eventually taking the next step of his coaching career at Lake Oswego.
"Learning from Coach Jones and his staff gave me a complete picture on what a premier high school basketball program looks like," Cho said.
"For me being a Korean American immigrant, I come from a collectivist culture and in some ways, DeMatha was really comforting to me because when you talk about being a part of something bigger than yourself, culturally that comes naturally to me as an Asian American. And also to those who become part of the DeMatha family. So DeMatha was a great fit for me."
That being said, Cho acknowledged that being an Asian American in the basketball world can be a lonely experience. While both DeMatha and the USA Junior National Team (which Jones also serves as head coach) had extremely diverse coaching staffs, Cho was the only Asian American. Despite this, Cho said it allowed him to realize how far he had come.
"Since you rarely see an Asian American coaching in the basketball space, me being at a place like DeMatha really allowed me to take it as a moment of pride," Cho said.
"So I'm challenged to carry that flag, but to also speak up any chance I get for Asian Americans to breakthrough in a field that is not normally occupied by our group."
Cho said it's been great to look back fondly at all of the memories he made over his three years at DeMatha. While his current coaching job has him on the west coast, he hopes to be able reach out to the current Asian American community on DeMatha's campus if they need someone to talk to in sharing their own experiences.