Rock Valley College is losing the driving force behind it’s highly successful athletic programs. Director of Athletics and women’s head basketball coach Misty Opat has resigned to accept the job as the head women’s basketball coach at Chicago State University.
Opat makes the leap from NJCAA Division III to NCAA Division I. In her nine seasons at the helm for the Golden Eagles, Opat amassed a record of 229-70 (.766) and she won four NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national championships. She also led her teams to runner-up finishes at the national tournament in 2014 and 2018, and compiled a career record of 16-2 in national tournament play.
Opat won numerous Coach of the Year awards at the conference, regional, and national level over the last nine years, including Spalding® NJCAA Division III Women’s Coach of the Year two times, Coach of the NJCAA DIII National Tournament four times, and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) NJCAA Division III Women’s Coach of the Year six times.
Chicago State has also hired Lance Irvin to coach it’s men’s basketball team. In a statement on the Chicago State website CSU president Z Scott said, “The hiring of Misty Opat and Lance Irvin marks a new day for Chicago State University. We are delighted to have them aboard…”
In the same story Opat released the following statement: “I’m thrilled to be joining Chicago State University as head coach of the women’s basketball team, which is a hidden gem in an incredible basketball city,” Opat says. “I have always focused equally on the athletic achievements and academic accomplishments of student athletes, and CSU’s shared commitment to those goals makes this program an ideal fit. I’m proud to lead this team of incredible women to victory.”
In a story posted on the RVC website Opat had the following statment: “I want to thank Rock Valley College and the greater Rockford area for their amazing support of me and my family over the past nine years,” stated Opat. “Mark Maneval, the Athletic Director when I was hired, gave me the opportunity to lead Rock Valley College women’s basketball as my first head coaching position, and I am eternally grateful to him. This championship ride has surpassed even my wildest dreams of what RVC athletics could become. None of this would have been possible without the amazing coaches and many student-athletes we have had come through RVC who bought into my vision of excellence.”
“We are excited for this opportunity for Misty and her family,” stated RVC President, Dr. Doug Jensen. “Misty is a very special person and will be missed at Rock Valley College. Misty was committed to this community, she has a heart of service, and is dedicated to her student-athletes on and off the court. Misty will not be forgotten. I will miss her very much.”
“I am very happy for Misty, sad that she is leaving us, but proud that yet another RVC coach is advancing levels in NCAA athletics throughout the country,” stated Jim Ryan, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “It is very rare for a head basketball coach to make the leap from a community college to the Division I level. But that just shows how talented and respected Misty is, and she will do great things at Chicago State. We can’t replace a Misty Opat. But what we can do is to continue to build upon what is already considered one of the best athletic departments in the NJCAA, and that is in large part to Misty Opat’s efforts and the systems she has built for the RVC athletic program.”
Opat will be introduced at a press conference at Chicago State on Wednesday. Her final day at Rock Valley College will be Thursday, August 9.