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Lessons in Leadership: Phil LaScala, Lake Forest High School

Lessons in Leadership: Phil LaScala, Lake Forest High School

In the latest episode of Clubhouse Talks, we had the pleasure of hosting Phil Lascala, the seasoned head basketball coach at Lake Forest High School. With a rich history of building basketball programs and nurturing talents, Phil opens up about his nearly two-decade-long journey at Lake Forest, sharing pearls of wisdom on leadership, culture building, and tackling adversities. This conversation serves not only as an invaluable resource for aspiring coaches but also as an inspiration for leaders in various fields.

A Journey of Evolution and Growth

Phil’s journey is marked by his commitment to nurturing a brand of basketball that is deeply entrenched in the community. From his early years as a graduate assistant working alongside his father to becoming a business teacher and assistant dean at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Phil's trajectory is a testament to perseverance and passion.

After 300 wins and several successful seasons, Phil reflects on his initial days at Lake Forest, reminiscing about the tremendous support and cooperation he received from the community, as well as the efforts to create a feeder program that reflected his philosophy.

Building a Unified Vision: Staff Integration and Cooperation for Success

Phil lays emphasis on staff integration and cooperation as a vital part of building a successful program. Early on, he recognized the importance of creating a cohesive unit, one where ideas were not only shared but also meticulously discussed to form a unified vision for the program. This collaborative approach, which included social gatherings like barbecues and Cubs games, fostered a culture of camaraderie and intellectual symbiosis, helping the staff to work harmoniously towards a common goal.

Establishing a Strong Foundation: Understanding the Importance of Relationships

When stepping into a new role, building relationships stands as a critical task. Phil shares that the strength of a program lies not just in the strategies implemented on the court, but significantly on the bonds formed off the court. Encouraging interactions between the team members and fostering relationships between players and coaches stand as pillars in Phil's leadership philosophy.

Navigating Challenges: The Resilience in Leadership Journey

Every leadership journey encounters its share of challenges, and Phil's tenure at Lake Forest was no exception. He candidly shares the frustrations and lessons gleaned from difficult seasons, emphasizing the significance of maintaining focus and resilience. Phil notes that establishing an identity, particularly in defense, was pivotal in steering the team in the right direction even amidst adversities.

Insights on Handling Feedback and Criticisms: Strategies for Growth and Improvement

Navigating feedback, especially from parents, is a nuanced art that Phil has mastered over the years. He believes in the value of open dialogue, being receptive to constructive feedback while also holding firm to his convictions. This balanced approach has enabled him to steer the program with confidence, always seeking to improve and evolve.

Crafting a Legacy: Phil’s Advice for Aspiring Leaders on Leadership and Impact

As a seasoned coach with rich experience, Phil encourages aspiring leaders to be open-minded and adaptive. He emphasizes the need to understand the unique dynamics of each program, to craft strategies that align with the specific needs and strengths of the team. Moreover, Phil advocates for fostering a healthy culture, where relationships are nurtured, and collaboration is encouraged.


Phil Lascala’s journey is a rich tapestry of lessons in leadership, marked by perseverance, collaboration, and a deep commitment to community building. As he continues to shape the future stars at Lake Forest High School, his insights serve as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring leaders, beckoning them to lead with passion and purpose.

Join us as we delve deep into Phil's enriching journey on Clubhouse Talks, a conversation that promises to ignite a spark in every leadership enthusiast, beckoning them to forge paths marked with resilience, unity, and enduring success.

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