Girls basketball

Otis moves from Valparaiso boys hoops program to girls

2013-04-16T19:45:00Z 2013-04-17T00:17:08Z Otis moves from Valparaiso boys hoops program to girlsPaul Oren Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 16, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Joe Otis has done a little bit of everything in his coaching career, so the move the Valparaiso coach made Tuesday night shouldn't come as any surprise.

Otis will be exiting immediately as Valparaiso boys basketball coach in order to take over the girls program.

Otis volunteered for the coaching switch after spring break and hopes that one of his current assistants — Matt Thomas, Ben Lieske and Brent Kimmel — will be tabbed to take over the boys program.

The move was confirmed at the Valparaiso School Board meeting Tuesday night at Parkview Elementary School.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity, and it's something I'm looking forward to," Otis said. "I have three great assistants, and any one of them could get the boys job, and the program will be in great hands."

Otis took over the boys program before the 2009-10 season and went 65-27 in four seasons with one sectional title.

Otis is no stranger to coaching girls basketball, having served as the seventh-grade coach at Kesling Middle School in LaPorte. Prior to that, Otis served as the assistant girls coach with the Slicers under coach Skeeter Heath.

Otis is 361-216 in 26 years of boys coaching.

"I'm probably the only person who has ever landed one of the most coveted jobs in Indiana boys basketball after going 12-3 as a seventh-grade girls basketball coach," Otis said. "I've coached cross country and track before, so I have plenty of experience coaching different types of athletes."

Otis wasn't in attendance at Parkview on Tuesday night, but is eager to get to work with his new team.

"I haven't been able to talk to them yet, because we've been waiting for everything to become official," Otis said. "I'm just thrilled to be able to get started."

The girls program has fallen on hard times, with Valparaiso alum Jeanette Gray going 28-58 over the last four years. The Vikings last won a sectional title in 2005 under longtime coach Greg Kirby. Renee Turpa, Crock McGonigle and Gray all attempted to return the Vikings to regionals, a task which Otis accepts with open arms.

"The Valparaiso girls basketball program is every bit as historic as the boys program," Otis said. "From 1984 to 2005, the girls program won 17 sectionals, 10 regionals, four semistate titles and had two state runner-up finishes. There is a lot of history here."

Otis stressed that he doesn't have a choice as to who will succeed him with the boys program, but he is confident that any of his three assistants, all Valparaiso alums, would be able to lead the team.

"I don't get a say, but my hope is that one of them will get the job," Otis said. "All three of them are great assistants. I've been blessed for a long time with great assistants."

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