Passing the torch

Athletic Director Frank Griseto retires after 23 years


After 23 years at Jones, Coach Frank Griseto will be retiring from teaching, coaching, and running the athletic department. 

PE teacher, Micheal Strok ‘05 will be taking over for Griseto as the Jones athletic director. 

“[Griseto] is Jones College Prep,” said physical education teacher Lauren Vrettos.

After coaching baseball and basketball at St. Ignatius College Prep and Westinghouse College Prep, Griseto took a job at Jones Academic Magnet, a brand new school downtown with a focus on education.

“Jones was a new school starting up. Selective enrollment was new and I was looking for a new challenge, a new place to go, after my previous job at Westinghouse,” said Griseto. “I had previously known the principal that was taking over and that’s basically how I got here. She was looking to hire a basketball coach to build the athletic program, and things like that.” 

For 23 years, Griseto oversaw the formation of many sports teams, and brought Jones to the 4A conference (the highest level in Illinois). He coached varsity baseball for six years and coached boys basketball up until 2018.

“The number one thing that I’m most proud of is the growth of the athletic program over the years, but that’s a credit to the coaches and the students,” said Griseto.

Taking over the athletic program at a school targeted for high academics is a tough job. Griseto and his coaches persevered and built the program from the bottom up.

 “I think we only had boys and girls basketball, and maybe cross country,” said Griseto.

Griseto acknowledges that building the athletic department is not a one man job. Over many years, there have been countless people that helped build Jones athletics. 

“We’ve had a lot of dedicated coaches over the years that helped. Going  from  a  school of  275 to a school of 2000, there’s  a  lot of  growth   that came along  the way and, you know, just to see where the athletic program is today from where we came is the biggest satisfaction for me,” said Griseto.

Mike  Strok ‘05 was a student of Griseto, and developed a tight bond with him and the school. One so strong that Strok would eventually come back to teach at Jones and coach himself.

“I went to Jones from 2001 to 2005, when it was just the old building,” said Strok. “I always wanted to work in CPS because I felt like that’s where I grew up,with the teachers that I knew who had molded me during my youth and I wanted to go back and give back to the CPS community.” 

Even as fellow adults, Strok and Griseto maintain a similar relationship to what they had in the early 2000s. Griseto continues to teach and coach Strok to make him better.

“I think it’s funny because you almost never break the player to coach bond to a certain degree because he was my coach for four years in both baseball and basketball,” said Strok. “You kind of still see him a little bit in that youthful light because that was your coach and what he says is kind of something that you’re going to follow and do.” 

Over  the  past year,  Strok began to take on a larger role at Jones. He became the assistant athletic director to Griseto, and began to take on more responsibility at the school.

“I’ve been the assistant athletic director since January of last school year while we were all still doing remote learning,” said Strok. “I started doing odds and ends things to kind of help ease the workload on Griseto because it’s a big job to do. And he was doing it by himself for so long.” 

A year later, opportunity came again: Griseto announced that he would be retiring as athletic director. Naturally, Strok was intrigued and thought about taking full duties.

“When Mr. Griseto officially decided that he wanted to step down, that’s when I decided to essentially apply for the position and request to take Mr. Griseto’s role,” said Strok.

Admin accepted his request and effective January 31, Strok was declared the official athletic director for Jones. Griseto is happy for the ex-student turned co-worker. He   believes that Strok is a natural fit for the job.

“[Strok] is invested in the school. He is an alumni of the school, coaches multiple sports, has the knowledge of what the athletic world is,” said Griseto. “I think it will be a really smooth transition, and I am looking for nothing but success for him in this job.” 

Strok is ready for the responsibility, and will work hard to gain the respect of his peers. He wants to create a safe environment that can facilitate growth.

“I want to make sure that each coach knows that I am there to support them. That my main role is to be someone that they can go to whenever they need anything,” said Strok.

Strok is looking forward to the future, recognizing that Jones has come a long way thanks to Griseto. However, he believes that so much more can be done. Strok’s three year goal is to bring JCP athletics online and really step into the digital age.

“We’re working on a cleaner website. We’re working on getting a nice Jones athletics Twitter handle,” said Strok. “We have capabilities to live stream our home basketball games, volleyball games. We’re going to have the ability to have sideline streaming for soccer games, lacrosse games, softball, baseball, and just moving into that new 21st century light.”