GODFREY – Doug Stotler is coming back home and he’s thrilled about it. There’s an extra pep in his step.
Stotler, 52, the director of athletics at Jefferson Community College in Hillsboro, Mo., is returning to Lewis and Clark Community College. Stotler, previously at LCCC from 1993 to 2009, will take over his old duties as athletic director on July 1. He replaces Deon Thomas, who departed LCCC for an assistant men’s basketball coaching position at UIC.
“I’m so happy to be back. And I still have energy left to burn,” Stotler quipped.
Part of the reason Stotler returned to LCCC is his familiarity with the school. Yet the biggest lure is that he gets to coach basketball again. At Jefferson, he was strictly the director of athletics after the Vikings discontinued the men’s basketball program.
“I sure missed teaching the game because basketball has been a way of life for me for 50 years,” Stotler said. “Stepping away from the game for the first time left a void in my life that I hadn’t previously experienced.
“That convinced me to get back into coaching and I was lucky the timing was right at LCCC.”
He previously served as an assistant coach at McKendree University before taking over the LCCC program in 1993. The Godfrey school had discontinued men’s basketball in the late 1980s.
When it returned, LCCC changed its nickname from the Bucks to the Trailblazers and moved from the Hatheway Hall gym to the River Bend Arena. Men’s basketball had been around the campus since the early 1970s.
It was Stotler joining forces with LCCC administrator George Terry and school president Dale Chapman in resurrecting the program.
“The opportunity to build a program from the ground up was something special,” Stotler said of his first stint at LCCC.
He enjoyed his tenure at Jefferson, but wanted to do something more. The Herculaneum, Mo., native longed to be back on the court.
“While the committee assignments (at Jefferson) with the NJCAA were valuable to me as an administrator, they did not satisfy my on-court competitive spirit,” Stotler said.
He added, “Coaching college basketball is a tremendous challenge and it quickly became apparent to me that I need to fill that void with some kind of basketball,” Stotler said.
“I’ve been on a basketball court since my diaper age.”
And that’s where LCCC comes into the picture. Stotler built a successful program in compiling a 310-192 record during his 16 seasons at the school. The Trailblazers won conference championships, regional titles and had a pair of top-7 finishes in the NJCAA Division II finals.
“Returning to coach at Lewis and Clark will be made much easier because of the many great people that want to see our team succeed,” Stotler said. “I am thrilled to be returning to the LCCC family.”
Sean Hill, vice president of student engagement at LCCC, said Stotler is the right fit for the program.
“Doug’s knowledge of the area and familiarity with Lewis and Clark, combined with his experience at Jefferson College, made him an ideal candidate for the position.”
Chapman said, “We are fortunate to have the benefit of coach Stotler’s coaching and AD experience as he leads Lewis and Clark into the next level of sports excellence.”
The Trailblazers have competed in Division I for men’s basketball the past four years. Thomas took them to a fourth-place finish in the D-2 finals at Danville his first season.
A Chicago native, Thomas expects to be a big part of the UIC program. The Flames belong to the NCAA Division I Horizon League.
“I want to help put UIC basketball back on the map and win championships,” said Thomas, the career scoring leader (2,129 points) at the University of Illinois. “I grew up near UIC and would walk past the university almost every day, so this is like a homecoming for me.”