by Steve Peterson
Former Akron-Westfield boys basketball Head Coach Craig Doty is excited about his new challenge as head coach at Rock Valley College of Rockford, Ill.
Doty began his duties there for the 2012-2013 basketball season and has been impressed with the Rockford school’s improvement in its facilities.
“This is an opportunity I could not pass up. They have put in a new 4,300-seat arena. It’s an exciting, special place. While I can’t recruit for this season, we’ll get the most of the student-athletes that we have, then recruit for next year from Rockford, metropolitan Chicago, Minnesota and Iowa,” said Doty, noting the size of Rockford metropolitan area with more than 430,000 population and its rich athletic talent.
Doty, 27, is one of the youngest head coaches in junior college basketball. The former Alcester-Hudson High School standout also played and coached at Morningside College; University of South Falls, S.D. and Riverland Community College of Minnesota. He served at NJCAA Division I Central Wyoming College (CWC) in 2010-2011 as Interim Head Men’s Basketball Coach.
At CWC, Doty received nine commitments and recruited a team that would achieve a 20-11 record, the most wins in over 20 years at the school. During his tenure at CWC, Doty coached three players who signed NCAA Division I scholarships including Bojan Mihajlovic (University of Texas-Arlington); Jonathan Mesghna (University of Maine); and James Johnson (California State-Fullerton University).
Doty is a native of Alcester, S.D. In his senior year season, he set the school record for points in a game and averaged 25.5 points per contest. He is an alum of Morningside where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in business administration in 2010.
The previous coach at Rock Valley College, Julian Springer, was hired this summer by Kankakee Community College in Illinois.
Doty will be working with mostly reserves and walk-on players this winter but vows a competitive team.
“They had a two-month search process. There were 80 applicants. They had 14 interviews over the telephone. Five candidates were called in for on-campus interviews, including an Iowa Wesleyan University coach with 200-plus wins and the coach at Rockford, Ill. College,” said Doty, adding he really enjoyed his year, 2009-2010, coaching the Westerners. A-W had a 9-13 record, won its last four games and won a playoff game before losing to eventual state champ Rock Valley in the playoffs.
“My time at A-W was incredible. I really enjoyed the community, the administration was great to work with and the one year as head coach helped prepare me,” said Doty in a phone interview.
The RVC Rocks are busy in practices these days. They started Oct. 1 and were ready for the conference season in the northern Illinois N4C league. The team has just three sophomores, or second and final year players.
Earlier in his coaching career, Doty became acquainted with the Rockford talent as he recruited former Rockford Boylan High School standout Armani Flannigan and former Rockford Auburn High School star Anthony Strickland to play for his CWC team in Wyoming. Doty hired a local legend as his assistant coach, retired Rockford Boylan High School Coach Steve Goers.
The RVC season begins Nov. 1 with a home game against McHenry County College of Crystal Lake, Ill.
On a personal note, it was back in 1974 when a Crystal Lake boys basketball team coached by one of my heroes, John Swenson, made it to the Illinois Sweet 16, one win away from the state quarterfinals. They were defeated by a Goers-coached Oswego team. Goers went on to almost 900 career wins, mostly at Rockford, Ill.’s Boylan High School.
It’s been 10 years now since I’ve been to Rock Valley College. The event was a win by a Johnsburg, Ill., boys basketball team, one of the smallest teams in its class, and it made state but lost in the quarterfinals to a star-led player who went on to Duke University.
In the first game of the season, Rock Valley fell to McHenry County College of Crystal Lake, Ill., 103-96, on Nov. 1 in Rockford. RVC led 55-47 at halftime.